Dunkirk (2017) 6.10pm, Sunday, Sky Cinema Greats
‘’All we did is survive’’
There are plenty of war movies being screened on Remembrance Sunday, but few better than Christopher Nolan’s good oldfashioned war story shot on good old-fashioned celluloid (and 65mm celluloid at that). Dunkirk retells the remarkable true story of how more than 340,000 besieged Allied soldiers were rescued from the eponymous French beach during WWII by a huge otilla of small boats, mostly manned by British civilians who had bravely made the short journey from England’s south coast. With a ne ensemble cast, including Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and a trio of Irish actors – Kenneth Branagh, Barry Keoghan and Cillian Murphy – Nolan’s tale is recounted from various viewpoints.
There are de nitely elements of Leslie Norman’s excellent WWII drama, Dunkirk (1958), at work here, plus echoes of the many silent lms ( Greed, Silence) Nolan viewed before the shoot to see how earlier Hollywood directors handled crowd scenes. Interestingly, the director was less interested in producing an action-packed war movie than he was in delivering a taut, suspenseful drama that would convey the terror of those waiting anxiously on the beaches to be rescued. That’s why Nolan watched Cluzot’s The Wages of Fear (1953) before shooting began and that’s also why Dunkirk clocks in at a lean 107 minutes. Though it’s beautifully shot and powered by a resonant Hans Zimmer score, the impact of Dunkirk is diluted at times by the director’s decision to cut between stories. That said, Nolan and his team (notably the excellent Mark Rylance) manage to convey the horrors of war in general and, in particular, the miracle that was the evacuation of Dunkirk. And that’s no small feat.