By Ian Morton
A truly sublime piece of work, Dunkirk writes the book on what true cinema should entail.
Closely following the stories of allied soldiers during the World War 2 evacuation of Dunkirk, the plot follows the event from 3 different perspectives, based solely on their topography; land, sea and air.
With another entry in his increasingly impressive resume, director Christopher Nolan not only gives us one of the best films of year but also one of the most immersive and inspiring films of the 21st Century. From top to bottom, every facet of production is finely polished – the camera work is hypnotic, the story riveting and the sound hauntingly raw.
Pushing the boundaries of the cinema experience, Nolan pays homage to the past by breaking new ground. Traditional 35/70mm film techniques with the innovative IMAX format work in juxtaposition resulting in an otherworldly yet authentic look into the past. Whether strapped to the front of a spitfire or bobbing along the ocean, the audience are drawn in to scenes that feel more like restored historical footage than an epic Hollywood blockbuster.
Choosing to avoid the concept of linear storytelling once again, Nolan delves back into his bag of tricks when it comes to structure and pacing. With 3 interlocking stories seemingly not providing enough of a challenge, each one is then confined to its own time frame that engenders a truly unique experience at the cinema. While this would immediately worry the average film maker, Nolan takes it in his stride by not only balancing each arc perfectly, but even harnessing its complexity to build intensity throughout.
While Nolan has stated numerous influences when making the film, none can be felt more than those from the silent film era. Pairing once again with music maestro, Hans Zimmer, the music moves away from just setting a tone to becoming the key plot driver. As the audience are cursed with a continuous stream of impending clock-ticks, you soon find yourself at the mercy of the orchestra, with each tick dictating your heart rate to near hypertensive levels. Backed up by some of the most impressive sound design in the last few years, the effect is a hauntingly moving score that perfectly narrates each unfolding event.
Rounding things off nicely are some impressive performances from both experienced and inexperienced alike. While Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh provide a strong backbone, new bloods such as Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden and even Harry Styles all give good reasons for being there.
In short, Dunkirk is without a doubt the definition of the cinematic experience. A well deserved 5 out of 5 stars.
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