Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a movie about one of the most famous battle in the Second World War. Its outline has clever twist on a familiar trilogy of land, sea, and air.
Dunkirk movie is about a week of combat during the Second World War, from May 26 to June 4 in 1940, and the effort to rescue British and French troops into those three components. The movie leaps about in time with each thread of action moving ahead fitfully until the three threads unite in the movie’s evident conclusion as the successful retreat of more than three hundred thousand soldiers across the English Channel from Dunkirk (France) to Great Britain. It was crucial for the preservation of Great Britain, but the retreat was the defeat that helped to secure victory.
In the movie, Nolan has formed a construction that turns a forward tread into a mosaic and breaks the sense of a unified dramatic arc into a series of observational anecdotes of isolated deeds and lonely confrontations. His intention is to highlight individual acts of courage and heroism on which the overall historic event depends. In separating three through-lines and fields of action, Nolan suggests the uncertainty, the indeterminacy and the quasi-metaphysical randomness. Also, the seemingly miraculous synergy of disparate events of which the outcome was comprised.
In the opening scene, Nolan hands off pure chance weighs heavily. For instance, it features one British soldier reaching the beach where thousands of other soldiers are lined up and waiting to board ships. Suddenly, a German bomber roars overhead. The soldiers drop to a crouch, bombs fall, and some soldiers are blown to oblivion while others get up and reassemble bearing stretchers carrying the fallen toward ships. That bloodless opening scene is the first sign that Dunkirk is not a kind of Saving Private Ryan. The director suppresses the mutilations and agonies of war to focus on its basic moral horror.
You could say that Dunkirk is a movie of paradox as its very subject being character. The mettle of men faced with decisions that could mean life or death for themselves and others. They have to master their emotions and act thoughtfully, responsibly, honorably and potentially self-sacrificingly for the good of their collective mission. Dunkirk movie is both literally and figuratively, a collection of war stories that emphasize the courage and the severity in the existential moment of war while showing nothing of the soldiers outside the realm of battle.
There is a recent trend in movies to blank out characters. In many cases, this seems less a directorial choice than a lack of artistic imagination. In Nolan’s case, it’s something of a surprise. In Dunkirk, Nolan feels morally inhibited about ascribing to real-life characters and situations the depth of imagination that he feels free to pour into fictional ones.
There is much else from the times of Second World War that is almost impossible to imagine, but “Germans”, “Hitler” and “Nazi” are what people may immediate think of when heard of the War. Still, in Dunkirk movie, none of those words appear. Nolan’s subject lies elsewhere in the collective purpose, the national unity and the total mobilization for a total war. Nolan achieves that paean to patriotic unity not by seeing and hearing it forged from multiplicity, but by excluding multiplicity, filtering out everything that isn’t already a part of it.
The fastidiously severe images that are usually a watermark of Nolan’s willful artistry here give way to an anonymously practical excessiveness rather than inflect his images. The scale of his movie’s format is left at the 70mm, negative and the IMAX screen to do the bulk of the visual work. Hans Zimmer absurdly overbear music that made the floor rumble and the seats.
The sensory overload of Dunkirk is also an anti-intellectual barrage that effaces the actual differences that were overcome with difficulty in pursuing the war. The movie seems like one of the self-censoring exhortations of wartime itself. Nolan’s sense of memory and of history is as flattened-out and untroubled as his sense of psychology and of character.