by H. Thomas
***** 5 Stars
‘Dunkirk is incredibly tense, thrilling and gives a beautiful representation of the historical event it is named after, throwing viewers into the perspective of multiple people involved in the Second World War.’
Director: Christopher Nolan
Actors: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy
This film explores the struggles that those fighting in the Second World War faced, moving away from the traditionally-used narrative of soldiers in the middle of battle and instead telling the story from multiple perspectives – that of Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young soldier trying to escape from the shores of Dunkirk, France and return home across the English Channel; Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), the owner of a fishing boat being recruited to rescue said soldiers from the shores and bring them to England safely, and Farrier (Tom Hardy), one of a group of Spitfire pilots focusing on shooting down German Heinkel-111 bomber planes while also concentrating on getting himself and his fellow pilots to safety on their limited fuel tanks. The three stories told take place in May 1940, with the film stating when each begins – “The Mole, One Week,” “The Sea, One Day,” and “The Sky, One Hour” before the three plots converge as the characters come across each other, Mr Dawson rescuing a shell-shocked soldier (Cillian Murphy) from a sunken lifeboat and coming to know the story of the soldiers waiting at Dunkirk, including Tommy and the soldiers left stranded from the crowded lifeboat, who he comes to rescue. The struggles that each and every person involved in the war are fully portrayed, such as their own morality and constant suspicion.
Dunkirk perfectly displayed how many people survived the Second World War – mainly luck. The soldiers standing on the jetty or the beach were shown to be near misses of where German bombs had not dropped, and this perfectly depicts the luck of survival for soldiers. The effects of shell-shock, now known as PTSD, are also reflected in Murphy’s performance of desperation not to go back to Dunkirk after escaping.
Additionally, the device of little dialogue throughout the majority of the film is used expertly to give the audience a sense of how the soldiers could not trust anyone until they heard their voice – many characters, such as the French Soldier that escapes with Tommy, are left suspicious to both the characters and the audience themselves, and we are left guessing at who to trust, accurately representing how soldiers in the Second World War would have felt towards anyone. However, to someone with little historical knowledge of the events at Dunkirk, this device may also be confusing as there is very little indicative dialogue to set the scene and introduce the audience to the historical event being portrayed.
Despite this, Dunkirk is incredibly tense, thrilling and gives a beautiful representation of the historical event it is named after, throwing viewers into the perspective of multiple people involved in the Second World War.
Dunkirk is currently available on Netflix and was rated 12 by the BBFC.