“We shall film them on the beaches” (Dunkirk Review)

So okay, I know this review is 7 months late. I saw Dunkirk in July before I had my blog, but after attending a re-showing at the Odeon last night, I feel compelled to rave once again about Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece.

The first time I saw Dunkirk, I was utterly blown away by its sheer cinematic value. The scale, the practical effects and the stunning cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema all create a breath-taking piece of film making. Hans Zimmer’s score also orchestrates the thrillingly intense action, utilising a musical technique called ‘The Shepard’s Tone’ to have tension in the music constantly building. I also realised that the narrative was in three parts, with three different time frames, but because of clever editing, I never even clocked onto it.

So that was the first time I watched it.

The second time I watched it, I already knew I was going in for a huge cinematic experience. I began to notice the different time frames, and how they slotted together. And I heard Michael Caine’s small cameo in the film (but I won’t spoil it). However, the major thing I noticed the second time around is that as soon as the stopwatch began clicking, the massive emotional weight of the story suddenly dropped on me like a ton of bricks. The sheer horror of the events, and the gleaming hope that all the soldiers had was suddenly beaming once more. The second-time round, I was obviously still utterly blown away by the film-making, but the emotion of the story finally got to me, and I’m not ashamed to admit that there we’re several moments when I felt tears rolling down my cheeks (especially when ‘home’ appears on the horizon). The stunning, awe-inspiring imagery of Dunkirk really helps to portray the patriotism of such a crippling war defeat. It is a credit to Christopher Nolan that with such a huge scale, the most poignant moments are the human ones, and this is why I loved it quite so much.

After re-watching it, I still maintain, perhaps even stronger than before, that the film should win one of the major Academy Awards. It’s a stunning piece of work with perfect direction.

10 Stars

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