“You can practically see it from here”, Kenneth Branagh’s stoical naval commander is referring “home”, the word that reminisces throughout Christopher Nolan’s long-cherished epic of wartime retreat. Still, he could relatively have been talking about the Imax 70mm presentation in which I watched Dunkirk full movie, and which was also probably visible from France – a breath-taking spectacle in which the image for the most part extended beyond my field of vision, vertically and horizontally.
“We have a big love for the big format”, cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema says, who works graceful wonders with the bulky movie cameras used to capture such marvelous shots. Available in a dizzying array of projection formats (digital, 35mm, 70mm, etc.), Dunkirk full movie hits our screens with aspect ratios varying from square to oblong and all those found in between, depending upon which version you choose to watch. But you must definitely see it.
The story of the Dunkirk evacuation, which spotted a fleet of small civilian vessels help in the rescue of stranded troops from France in 1940, has been announced before on screen. As early 1942, William Wyler’s Oscar-winner Mrs. Miniver was painting a morale-boosting picture of normal people volunteering to make the cross-channel crusade, while in 1958’s Dunkirk Leslie Norman (Barry’s father) brought us John Mills and Richard Attenborough presenting British pluck.
More recently we’ve had the wonderfully planned beach scene of Joe Wright’s Atonement (2007), and the quirkiness of Bill Nighy bumbling through a wartime movie shoot (“Can someone please get Mr. Hilliard out of Dunkirk!”) in Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest. Still, despite such various precedents, writer and director Nolan marks this land his own with a movie that will surely become the definitive cinematic description of this epic chapter of history.
We begin with a street fight, as Fionn Whitehead’s young Tommy hurries toward the Dunkirk full movie free seafront, dodging bullets and falling leaflets that threateningly proclaim “We surround you!”. Titles say that British and French troops are “hoping for deliverance, for a miracle”, while the Bergman-esque ghost haunts the beach. Named “The Mole” (after the jutting stone and wood structure from which marine evacuation signs), this land-based story strand is one of three. A second, “The Sea”, shows Mark Rylance’s decides Mr Dawson piloting his “pleasure craft” across the Channel, helping Cillian Murphy’s traumatized soldier along the way. A third, “The Air”, projects Tom Hardy’s Spitfire pilot Farrier as he fights with the Luftwaffe.
Brilliantly, these strands play out over three different timelines; one week, one day and one hour respectively. As the stories engage, with boats, boots and planes uniting at Dunkirk full movie, so time itself is multiply compressed and elongated in Inception-like loops, conjuring shifts and reversals as complex – yet still substantially as obvious – as those of Memento, a psychological thriller in 2000 by Nolan. For all its visual magnificence, Dunkirk 720p is a pro at skilled temporal elasticity, a recurrent theme for Nolan, stimulated by his love of Graham Swift’s work Waterland and explored most recently in Interstellar.
With its grumbling sound design, Dunkirk online attacks our senses. Yet minimal dialogue indicates that huge sections of the movie play like classic silent cinema, owing more of a debt to Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) than to Guy Hamilton’s The Battle of Britain (1969). As for the plane fights, they battle against Howard Hughes’s 1930 Hell’s Angels regarding the audience impact, positioning us right there in the cockpit amid stunning expanses of sky. It’s a completely immersive experience that fulfills Nolan’s pledge to create “virtual reality without the googles”.
Beneath it all is Hans Zimmer’s devastating score, a combination of regret, tension and expectation, moving from metronomic staccato stabs through grumbling bass beats to heavenly mournful suspensions that weirdly connect the gap between Elgar and Angelo Badalamenti. Even the most intense scenes have an elegiac quality – Nolan cites All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) as a tonal inspiration – with which Zimmer is superbly in sync.
Yet, there are a few false notes. Although structurally refine, Nolan’s plot needs former One Direction star Harry Styles to convey a line about someone having “an accent thicker than sauerkraut sauce”, a head-scratching task even for an experienced actor. But such quibbles aside, I was left astonished that a movie of such scale was eventually defined not by its action shots, but by quieter images – of a man wandering hopelessly into the sea, or the look on Branagh’s face as he stares out into the lost horizon. These are the highlights that stayed with me and that will strongly test the time.