This was my "must see" movie of the summer. Ever since the seven minute prologue/trailer was screened during Star Wars: Rogue One, I was making plans to attend an IMAX screening so I could wonder in it's 70mm brilliance (this is no small feat, as I live 2.5hrs from the closest IMAX theatre).
Unfortunately, the movie I was looking forward to for the last six months turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Should this movie win an Academy award for cinematography? Yes. Should it win for sound editing? Yes. Where them some excellent performances from the actors (including Harry Styles)? Yes. Was it a movie that inspired me to tell all my friends that they had to go see it? Not a chance.
I understand what Chris Nolan was trying to do. He was portraying war in a non-glorious way, telling a simple story set in a much larger conflict. Unfortunately, the Battle of Dunkirk is not the time to skimp on visual effects. Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" has many flaws, but one thing it did extremely well is made me understand the horrors of the Omaha beach landing. For 25 minutes I was on that beach, and the visuals and sound effects told a story that I never forgot (the rest of the movie's plot is troublesome).
Nolan did not take me to Dunkirk. The Battle did not seem "massive", in fact, his attempt to show the story from different character's viewpoints did cause some chronological dissonance (which I was fine with), but at no time did the battle seem massive. At times it looked like the soldiers were lined up waiting for a soup kitchen to open or for Santa to put them on his knee. Aside from sweeping the bravery and sacrifice of the French army (which protected the British flanks as they retreated) away, Nolan also did not demonstrate the colossal loss of equipment, life, and absolute horror that was Dunkirk.
It is sad to think that many will receive their education about "Dunkirk" from this movie. They will have a jaded and narrow view of the battle, and will not understand what a massive undertaking the evacuation from the beach entailed. Watching Nolan's version, it seems like 10 little boats (not 100s) made one voyage over the water and plucked a few soldiers off the beach (not the 1000s of boats that made dozens of voyages..and some of them being ferries not simple little fishing vessels). The fixation the director has of putting Tom Hardy in a mask for 80% of the movie (Bane revisited?), also was a bit disappointing. The use of real Second World War aircraft was spectacular, but only having 4-5 planes dog fighting over the beach, surely undervalues the role of the RAF during Operation Dynamo. Same goes for the Navy.
Do not get me wrong. Nolan created a solid entertaining movie. However, he should have called it something other than "Dunkirk", as he did not do justice in retelling that story.
secondary school teacher, amateur photographer, movie buff, computer nerd .