Let it be known before I get into the rest of my article: I am a complete Christopher Nolan fanboy. As I run through his entire body of work, every movie of his has a big place in my ‘movie’ heart. The Batman series revolutionized the way the comic book genre showed on the big screen. The campy, light-hearted stories that were told over and over again gave way to a new, darker style that catered to an entirely new fan base. Interstellar told a story that went beyond the scope of our universe and let us dream. Inception made us wrack our brains to fully grasp how the layers unfolded.
With Dunkirk, Nolan ventures into a genre with which he has no previous experience. Making a war film requires combining historical accuracy with solid storytelling and rich character development. Some movies have been able to get one or two parts right, but rarely have all three been meshed together with such exactitude. Dunkirk immediately has a place alongside Saving Private Ryan, as long as people give it a chance and allow the movie to age in order to appreciate it.
For those of you who do not know what Dunkirk is about, I will summarize it as best I can. And without referring to Wikipedia.
A massive troop of Allied forces are forced onto the beaches of Dunkirk without any escape (WWII). Bombers and submarines attack the helpless solders who can only hunker down, hope for escape, or await rescue. Myriad heroes from varying nations jumped in their boats, making their way to the beaches and evacuating as many people as possible.
It has been argued that, had the Dunkirk incident been a total failure, the repercussions could have greatly and negatively altered the course of the war.
The film itself tells the story at an absolute breakneck pace, without losing a single fiber of the connection between the soldiers and their impossible situation. One cannot truly understand the desperation and tragedy of war without living it themselves, and this film conveys that message in no uncertain terms. Because of this, we can more fully appreciate the efforts of common men and women who put their lives on the line, crossing dangerous waters to help their fellow soldiers. If I ever doubt that we are all capable of heroics and helping each other in challenging situations, I’ll simply recall a few specific scenes from Dunkirk to reaffirm.
Do yourself a favor and check this flick out. My advice: 9 AM on a Saturday or Sunday morning – once you start watching movies this way, it will change your life.