DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan LEAD CAST: Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, James D'Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Cilian Murphy & Mark Rylance SCREENWRITER: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz PRODUCER: Emma Thomas & Christopher Nolan EDITOR: Lee Smith MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Hans Zimmer GENRE: Action CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hoyte van Hoytema DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. LOCATION: USA, UK, Netherlands, France RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3
Cinema Rating: V14
MTRCB Rating: R13
Set in the second World War, thousands of British, Canadian, Belgian and French soldiers who allied themselves against the Nazis are tracked down by the cold-blooded German troops and are inescapably surrounded in the coastal village of Dunkirk. There is no way out to freedom except to fight, hold on to life and desperately hope for a rescue. Along the shores of Dunkirk, two soldiers (Fionn Whitehead and Damien Bonnard) spend a desperate time trying everything they can to be on-board one of the ships leaving for England. While out on the sea, a civilian (Mark Rylance) and two young men (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan) make the risky day long crossing to Dunkirk on a yacht—as part of a civilian effort to rescue the soldiers. Meanwhile, up in the air, three spitfire pilots attempt to provide air support for one vital hour of rescue.
Dunkirk banks on its grandeur simplicity in painting a picture of the horrors of war and its aftermath. While the scope of the film goes on epic proportions, its heart remains focused on the specificities of significant human experience. The audiences are brought to the specific time and place where its heart is. One would really feel the desperation, the trauma and the fear of soldiers trapped in a place and situation where even hope seems to be elusive. The audiences hold their breath the entire running time. The actors are all great even in the silent moments where they all swim for their lives, hide out of fear and embrace imminent death. Dunkirk is loaded with emotions on its visual storytelling that never fails to deliver. Here is a war film that never really shows the enemy yet makes it felt very strongly—an approach that is rarely seen on films of the same genre, making the film an experience that leaves a lasting impression on the real terrors of war.
While Dunkirk strongly paints the destruction of humanity during wars, it is able to utterly portray how humans become more human in time of war. This defies the usual persistent theory that war brings out savages among men. In Dunkirk, it is otherwise. Here, men are seen taking care of other men—they do not leave wounded soldiers behind. The entire journey of the film follows two young soldiers who got each other’s back no matter what happens. There are civilians who would risk their own safety to rescue soldiers, their fellowmen, trapped in the midst of the battle. There are pilots who would pawn their lives to rescue comrades. Soldiers are real heroes and in this film, they are real men—wounded, afraid and vulnerable, yet still choose to persevere to live. Their focus is not on killing the enemy but on preserving their lives—they want to be home for their families. The soldiers in Dunkirk long for peace—peace in their countries and more so, peace in their hearts constantly bombarded by threats, trauma and fear. War has so many lessons to teach humanity but it remains a mystery if we have ever really learned. For graphic scenes of violence, blood and gore, CINEMA deems the film as appropriate only for audiences ages 14 and above.