Dunkirk is a Masterpiece: Palm-Sweating Visual Storytelling at its Finest (Review)

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Christopher Nolan has worked his way up to not only one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, but also one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His nonlinear storytelling combined with consistent use of practical effects give his films a very unique look and feel. With Dunkirk, I was extremely anxious and slightly nervous because the early reviews were saying that it was Nolan’s best film and his masterpiece. I kept thinking, there is no way he can top Inception or Interstellar right? Well I’m here to tell you guys, he very well might have. Dunkirk is a beautiful film that tells a story from three different perspectives with very little dialogue and exposition. With virtually no blood or cursing, it’s definitely the most unique war movie I’ve ever seen.

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“Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.”

Dunkirk is based on a true story of the largest evacuation in history. Nolan approaches it looking at 3 separate intertwining stories, coming from land, sea, and air. This is executed beautifully because of slick editing and wonderful pacing. The entire movie has a feel as if you’re racing against the clock, because that’s how it was during the evacuation. Approaching the story from these perspectives instead of the evacuation as a whole was a risky creative decision from Nolan. However, it paid off in ways I didn’t think it ever could. Each scene had me on the edge of my seat.

The beauty of Dunkirk is that there is very little dialogue. Each setting has one specific character or characters it follows. You have Tom Hardy (The Revenant, 2015) in the air flying a fighter plane, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, 2015) driving a civilian boat, and Fion Whitehead (Him, 2017) as a solider on the ground. The entire cast has great performances. The fact there is a small amount of dialogue and exposition is very odd, but it works SO well. The story is told visually by camera movements, character actions, and facial expressions. Nothing feels forced, and the characters aren’t telling the audience things they already know. It is truly a unique way to tell a war story. It is almost like a silent film. Because of Nolan’s confident vision and use of practical effects, it feels incredibly authentic. It takes an incredible amount of boldness to tell a story this way. Christopher Nolan is the only director in Hollywood today that could pull it off.

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Dunkirk really hits the ground running, and does not let up throughout the 107 minute runtime. The pacing is perfect. The fact there is very little dialogue makes this even more impressive. You are really on the edge of your seat the entire time, with your palms sweating and simply unable to look away. Dunkirk gets everything right. There were some very intense scenes in the water as well. Be ready to bite your fingernails off.

From a technical standpoint, Dunkirk is absolutely incredible. The sound mixing and editing will definitely be getting some Oscar Nominations. When the planes would be diving in for an attack, it felt like you were there and it was truly terrifying. The cinematography is gorgeous as well. There a lot of pretty shots and the plane scenes are shot brilliantly. Hans Zimmer’s score is one of the best scores of the year and of his career. There is a constant ticking sound in each scene, and it truly keeps the audience engaged and anxious. The score will get an Oscar Nomination as well.

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Dunkirk should finally be the movie to get Christopher Nolan his long overdue Best Directing Oscar Nomination. With such a confident vision executed so perfectly, it would be a crime if he gets snubbed. This is the best movie of the year and the first worthy Best Picture Nomination as well. Are we sure it’s not November? Because Oscar Season has arrived early. Dunkirk stands right up there with Saving Private Ryan and will go down as one of the best war films of all time. Go see it this weekend!

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