Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Dunkirk


If you said to me what  cinematic memory I have of the depiction of the wartime evacuation of Dunkirk, I would tell you the shock machine gunning of Bernard Lee through the back of his dufflecoat on a French Beach would feature high on my list. So it is with some interest that I went to see Christopher Nolan's version of Dunkirk with The Prof this evening.

Nolan's film is an intimate epic. It follows the intersecting stories of just a handful of servicemen juggling time jumps within the narrative  as it does so and with a sparse and incredibly tense style we follow the increasingly desperate  plight of the survivors as they await rescue.
Nolan shows the forces on the beaches but pulls away from the massive " crowd" shots of previous films keeping the action more intimate with close scenes of the claustrophobic sinkings of the navy ships, and the tight dogfights above the grey channel.

This is not a " talkie" film. The overwhelming noises of war, the screams of the bombs, and of the men IS the dialogue of the movie ( supported by a stunning musical score)  and I must say that the movie is at times an uncomfortable, exhilarating  and incredibly tense rollercoaster ride.

Kenneth Brannagh almost steals the show in one brief scene as the commanding officer of the British forces. To the strains of Nimrod he stands fast on the one functioning jetty and weeps a tear as the flotilla of little boats proudly sail into view from the channel ports.
It's a wonderfully uplifting moment in an otherwise very dark movie.
Mark Rylance and Tom Glynn Carney play father and son civilians who pilot their boat to help with the evacuation. An oxygen masked Tom Hardy turns up as a heroic Spitfire pilot and Fionn Whitehead is especially good in his role of a lone soldier desperate to get home at any cost.

You don't quite feel the scale of Dunkirk as a sweeping military event in this movie, but boy do you get the feeling of what those poor trapped souls went through nearly eighty years ago!
9/10

29 comments:

  1. I saw it last night and loved it. So intense from the first scene! Really great acting all around. I agree with your review.

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  2. Reading about it would be grueling enough for me, I'm afraid. I can't imagine sitting through this film watching horrific things unfold of what we humans have done to one another. .....the same feelings about seeing 'Schindler's List' which I will never see.

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  3. Thanks for that review John. Mark Kermode also really rates this film as does Derek Faulkner of "The Sheppey Bugle". I must go to see it before it moves on.

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  4. I saw it last night and your review is spot on, it is an intimate film and the sense of the various characters being trapped during this very large event was very well portrayed. As you said very correctly there was not a sense of the large event but of the individuals and their struggle, and continuously they were all just trying to figure out what the hell was going on! Made it seem very real.
    I have just been reading about Dunkirk and I was very anxious to see this movie, it did not disappoint.

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  5. I want to see it but I have to be in the mood .. I know I will cry .. that story deserves tears, so I won't feel bad about weeping for those who died a long time ago but look what they did !

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    1. We won't discuss the fact that I got weepy when I read your review.

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  6. It is a long long time since I have been moved by a movie like this one. With its limited dialogue it managed to still deliver with the images and noises.

    Julie

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  7. Too much tension for me I think......I know it happened and it was horrible but I don't fancy it as 'entertainment'.

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  8. Your people did something not seen before: the rallying of a people, military and civilian, to come to the aid of their own. In the whole history of England (and I kind of know it), this is a bellwether mark. I plan to see it as I can.
    Hope you and Chris are well, all my best.
    Mike

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    1. Mike- You said it better than I could .. I plan to see it and I know I will weep through the whole thing.

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  9. I don't know if I can see it right now. I must be in a good mood and feeling well. I would be crying every second.
    It is getting rave reviews over here.
    As always a great review.

    cheers, parsnip

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  10. I am going this weekend to see it. It os getting rave reviews here in Canada.

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  11. I'm looking forward to seeing this in a couple of weeks. Nice to see Tom Hardy get a role as a hero for a change.

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    1. Even though he was ten years too old for the role

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    2. Ooh I love a bit of Tom 😁 Might give it a whirl 😚

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  12. A really good review and pretty much echoing my thoughts after watching it. What I found amazing at the end of the film is that, after enduring such stress and emotion and finally getting back to England, most of those survivors were then sent back to fight for another 4-5 years.

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  13. The film compellingly captured the mood of desperation both of the helplessly entrapped and those charging over the channel in little boats to be their rescuers, J.G. You're right about it capturing the intimacy of the personal, enforced involvements of just a handful of the young men who would rather have been anywhere else in the world than in their situation, something I didn't bring out in my own review.
    As for the 'Nimrod' moment, although I too was on the verge of welling up it was baffling for me to hear that music so elongated that I kept waiting for each next note to sound. I've never heard it taken so slow. If it had been played at the tempo one usually hears, and I'm sure was intended, I think it would have been the crowning glory it should have been, at least for me. Smallish point, perhaps, but for me it detracted from a potential dramatic peak.
    Glad you recognised the value of Hans Zimmer's quite extraordinary musical score, an aspect which requires essential mention in any discussion of this film.


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    1. Yes i agree raymondo... The film needed that one huge flag waving moment and Nimrod full speed would have accompanied it wonderfully having said this, the final scene with Tom Hardy's heroic flypast more than made up for it

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    2. I had no idea that fighter planes like Hardy's could glide unpowered for so long, J.G. Unless I'm told categorically that they can I'm going to take it as director's licence. Either way it made for exhilarating cinema.

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  14. Film opens in Vienna today, Thursday.

    The reviewer this morning's paper has awarded it the maximum 5 stars and used words like "masterpiece".

    I'll be going to see it sooner rather than later. Maybe even today.

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    1. There is a risk here ofthe film being overblown by the publicity machine

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    2. It's even on the front cover of Time.

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  15. I stay away from war movies but was convinced to go see it by a weekend guest. I kept my head down and did not watch some scenes. It was too hard. However, this was a great artistic film that will touch every viewer.

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  16. I will see it IF it is on at the Arts Centre where they sub title them for deaf people. I can hear the noise, but the words run together.

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  17. My maternal Granda was taken prisoner there.

    Somebody gabpvecme food for thought when they said he was lucky. Granda survived his second war.


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  18. I've heard good feedback too. Mark Rylands is one of my favourite actors.
    Arilx

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  19. The older I get the less I seem to be able to enjoy a film with a lot of killing and blood. I know it's history, but aren't there some uplifting stuff in history too? I guess I've just reached my saturation point on hate ,death and blood?

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  20. I am going to see this movie this weekend. I have been putting it off as I get weepy just thinking about it. My Great Uncle was killed there and it makes me so sad to think this poor 19 year old boy never got to "come home" and I never got to meet him. My Nan was the last one in the family to speak to him before he left to serve and he told her he didn't expect to come back.

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