Film Reviews
Dunkirk Rated: 12A

The brilliant Dunkirk! Now showing at Bridgnorth Majestic Cinema. 

Times: Daily: 2:50pm, 5:30pm and 8:10pm

Review by Charlie Pugh.

In the first year of World War II, the Nazis have trapped thousands of British, Belgium and French troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. As they close in it seems the troops are done for, but help is at hand from both military and civilian forces alike in one of the largest rescue operations in history….

In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s usual output of sci-fi films, Dunkirk breaks the mould telling a story long overdue, complete with fantastic filming, heart stopping sound and clever non- linear narratives – which set this film apart from the vast amount of World War II films released every year.

Three different perspectives of the 1940 battle of the land, sea and air, tell three separate plots and how each of the featured characters are affected by the battle. Whilst the the land narrative has the most intensity and feels closest to a conventional war film as the perspective shows the soldiers, played by Harry Styles and newcomer Fionn Whitehead coping with the conflict itself, the sea narrative in which a captain (Mark Rylance in ‘the best performance of his life’) and his sons are forced to deal with an unnamed soldier (Cillian Murphy) suffering from shell shock is gripping as it relies on thriller elements and drama in which the struggle to rescue soldiers leads to tragedy. The sky narrative features a Pilot brilliantly acted by Tom Hardy, protecting the soldiers and rescue boats from attack has elements from serials, in protesting the character’s heroism. Although the differences between these three plots could have derailed the narrative in less talented hands, Nolan manages to keep them interesting enough and manages to tie all of them as different examples in portraying heroism.

As usual with Christopher Nolan films, the practical use of real ships and planes and use of the real location of Dunkirk helps in making this film feel epic, yet gritty enough to get the horrors of war across, and the wide acting talents of James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and the previously mentioned new faces of Whitehead and Styles all give heartfelt and intense performances that show both the unity and division between the different people on that fateful day.

Overall, Dunkirk is a triumph. How a retreat became one of the victories of WW2 as the story of Operation Dynanamo unfolds. And the image of the single Spitfire gliding over the troops will be one that stays for some time.

 

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