Dunkirk - a review

Christopher Nolan is one of the most successful film directors of the 21 st century – and his latest film Dunkirk looks like being another blockbuster success.

It’s the true story of the allied soldiers of Britain, France and Belgium stuck at Dunkirk in France while the German army closed in on them.


The film tells its story visually. Nolan said he wanted audiences to care about the characters because of their “physical dilemma, because of the task they’re trying to accomplish, because you fear for their physical safely, because you wouldn’t want to be in their position," as he explained in an interview with Simon Mayo on Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review.

The story is told using three different narratives taking place on land, in the sea and in the air over three different periods of time.

And the cinematography is awesome. Right from the get-go, as we follow Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), we see a vast, epic wide shot of the beach with hundreds of thousands of troops lined up on the sand.

It makes for an extremely immersive and impressive shot.

A large part of the film is spent in the sky with British Pilots Farrier and Collins played brilliantly by Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden. The dogfights between the British and the German aircrafts are authentic and realistic and make for some of the best sequences.  But as great as Jack Lowden was as a Collins, Tom Hardy’s eyes steal the show.

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Dunkirk was an acting debut for Harry Styles, a casting choice which triggered some scepticism but he’s great in the film, as are Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan and Fionn Whitehead.

Nolan, once again, worked with Hans Zimmer to compose the film’s score which has a recording of the insistent ticking of a watch as its background.

Dunkirk is not a typically enjoyable film - it is about war and shows how bleak war can be. But it’s a film everyone should experience.

“400,000 men on a beach, their backs to the sea, the enemy closing in on all sides, in sight of home, practically but no way to get there and they’re faced with the choice between surrender or annihilation and the fact that this story does not end in either surrender or annihilation is why it’s one of the greatest stories in human history,” so said Christopher Nolan speaking on Kermode and Mayo’s film review.  (July 2017)

Score: A+

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By Sonny Etchell

Media Journalism student at West Herts College.