Film Review: Dunkirk

Searching this title on IMDb last night, returned more than one match. Not all that surprising really, the evacuation at Dunkirk, if not just a great turning point in World War II, definitely had its impact on not only the soldiers, but the people back at home, also embroiled in the conflict.

Invasion was a very real fear for the Allies, especially after so many countries were invaded and taken by the Germans before and after Poland was and war was officially declared.

England stood very much alone and having allied soldiers - English, French, Indian - trapped on the beach in Northern France, they were in very real trouble. Understating things by a lot, but yes.

Making a film about this event, seems more and more obvious, all the usual tropes and wanted elements of the story are there, and to make it better, its based on a true story.

I had very high expectations going into the film and they were all met. Christopher Nolan proves once again he is a master behind the camera, and at choosing his film crew, most notably in editing, sound effects, special effects, composer and of course, the actors. All of them brought their A game.

Some of his favourites return, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine, only his recognisable voice used for the radio communication for the pilots, engaged with German planes over the beach.

Some relative unknowns and others more known for indie and critically acclaimed are the ordinary soldiers, Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard and Jack Lowden among them. Harry Styles is also in there, Mr Nolan compared his casting to that of the late (great) Heath Ledger, as both were underestimated.

In the officer class we have Kenneth Branagh (clearly) and James D'Arcy, growing more and concerned and worried, the orders from on high are at odds with their very scary and steadily worsening situation.

Mark Rylance portrays a character, one among many more ordinary Englishmen, who said yes to the call and steers what Mr Murphy's character disparagingly calls a 'pleasure yacht' through twenty odd miles of open sea under fighter jets on both sides, with his son and a friend (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan respectively) to help him rescue as many soldiers as possible.

According to the IMDb trivia page, his character, Mr Dawson, is based on a real person, who was 66 years old at the time of the evacuation.

Not exactly a walk in the park, and even if it wasn't just for the truly evocative score (included for most of it is the sound of a clock ticking) by the great Hans Zimmer, the tension would still be felt. There is barely any dialogue in this film, which helps.

For most the film, you are kept so very firmly on the edge of your seat and for the climax is most definitely tear inducing. Just to add to the patriotism, Elgar's nimrod is woven into the score.

Bring the tissues, you will definitely need them.


  1. This quote comes from another film about a major event in World War II.

    “Sergeant-Hauptmann Strachwitz: Your name?
    Archibald 'Archie' Ives, 'The Mole': Ives.
    [Strachwitz looks through his prisoner profiles] Sergeant-Hauptmann Strachwitz: Ives... Ives... Oh, yes. Sergeant-Hauptmann Strachwitz: The photograph doesn't do justice.
    Archibald 'Archie' Ives, 'The Mole': I'd like to see one of you under similar circumstances.”


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