Tom Hardy in a scene from the movie Dunkirk.
Tom Hardy in a scene from the movie Dunkirk. Warner Bros. Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW: Dunkirk is a true epic

THE events that took place in Dunkirk have served as a turning point of the Second World War that united a nation and created a resolve to win the war.

After what has been a pretty average year for movies, expectations are high for Christopher Nolan's (Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) historical movie.

Beaten back to the coastal town of Dunkirk in France, a total of 400,000 British troops are surrounded. With the Nazi war machine closing in every day and their aircraft ruling the skies, somehow an army has to get across the channel and prepare for Hitler's next attack.

For 10 days the troops sat on the beaches waiting for the next boat. Left in the open, they are easy targets for German planes, and with Winston Churchill imploring every boat in the UK to get across to Dunkirk it was a race against time.

Fionn Whitehead in a scene from the movie Dunkirk.
Fionn Whitehead in a scene from the movie Dunkirk. Melinda Sue Gordon

There's the everyday man who takes his young son and his friend in a simple pleasure boat to bring back as many troops as they can, and the sole survivor of a sunken ship picked up in the channel who is a shadow of his former self with what we now term as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

While the movie 'stars' Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and One Direction's Harry Styles (who is rather good), this is an ensemble cast of actors who share the screen time.

Watching Dunkirk is an emotional experience. How would you feel seeing a hospital ship bombed before your very eyes and seeing people screaming for help? You are watching a movie, but you feel the fear and the despair of what is happening on the screen.

One scene depicts hundreds of men crowded onto a pier, waiting for the next boat to turn up. As they look up, they see three German Stuka's bearing down on them at full speed, loaded with machine guns and bombs. The sound of their approach gets louder and louder. Every breath could be your last. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and nothing you can do.

A scene from the movie Dunkirk.
A scene from the movie Dunkirk. Warner Bros. Picture

You genuinely feel their hopelessness and their terror - it is that effective.

Much of the credit has to go to the music score and the sound effects produced for Dunkirk. The sound of a bomb landing metres away is something that will stay with you long after you've gotten home. For many it was the last sound they heard, and there is no way to sugar coat it. Don't be surprised to see Dunkirk clean up in the technical categories at next year's Oscars; it is absolutely outstanding.

This is why Dunkirk is quite possibly the best war movie ever made. It grips you in the first 30 seconds by the collar and doesn't let go.

Authenticity is also at the forefront of Dunkirk; that's a real Spitfire you're seeing trying to protect the troops on the beaches in scenes that give you a whole new appreciation for those pilots who fought in the skies day in, day out.

Dunkirk makes the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan seem like a kids' picnic, but don't be turned off by that. For Dunkirk to work as a movie, it has to make you feel like you are part of what you are seeing and Christopher Nolan has achieved that in spades.

Harry Styles, Aneurin Barbard and Fionn Whitehead in a scene from the movie Dunkirk.
Harry Styles, Aneurin Barbard and Fionn Whitehead in a scene from the movie Dunkirk. Contributed

You will spend most of Dunkirk despairing at the evil of humanity, but by the end you will be inspired by the best of it. The events in northern France in 1940 remain to this very day one of the greatest examples of community spirit ever shown.

Dunkirk is epic filmmaking from a writer/director at the top of his game. It is a movie that everyone should see, and one that you will never forget. Go out of your way to see it on the biggest, loudest screen you can.

Dunkirk is more than a movie - it is an experience.

Dunkirk is now screening nationally at cinemas everywhere.

Dunkirk

  • Stars: Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles.
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Rating: M
  • Verdict: 5/5 stars


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