It would appear that Dunkirk has survived its first week at the UK Box Office, taking in a hefty £10.2m from the opening weekend alone. We’re not surprised, of course, Nolan has once again produced a film worthy of an Oscar. Dunkirk provides classic realism without the gore and all of the claustrophobic nightmares you can imagine a war film to be filled with. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The film opens with 3 British soldiers entering Dunkirk. Scavenging for food, the trio are surrounded with leaflets from the enemy, stating that they have them surrounded. No sooner have they read this, when gunfire drives them away. Two of the soldiers are killed, and one is left standing – our main protagonist Tommy. Played by Fionn Whitehead, Tommy is a young soldier, gaunt and thin. His will to get home can be seen from the get go, and this determination carries on throughout the duration of the film. After reaching the beach, Tommy sees the thousands of soldiers stranded, waiting to go home much like him. Multiple references are made throughout the film that home is “so close” and that England can be seen from the beach. This only adds to the feeling of claustrophobia.
Claustrophobia is a theme that runs through this entire film. From tightly packed soldiers on The Mole to the small cockpits in the planes, to the large carrier boats filled with men and rising water when they’re bombed by the enemy. This is done to evoke a feeling of terror, and paired with the music from Hans Zimmer and the vast openness of the beach and the sea, is done really well to portray war and fear in the soldiers.
In classic Nolan keeping, Dunkirk is slightly disjointed. Shown in 3 areas, the land, sea and air, and in three distinct time frames, the film really showcases how Nolan can interweave narratives and portray a classic action packed film.
Another major theme we can see in Dunkirk is its focus on the British. We hardly see French or even German soldiers in this narrative. Those that we do see are hidden in planes, or blurred from the view of the audience. It’s a great way to focus on one narrative and show exactly how Dunkirk played out for the British soldiers who were stranded there.
This film really is action packed from the get go, and the fighter jet scenes will have you swaying in your seat. If you’re big into your action films, this is definitely one for you. Although the film portrays a lot of violence, blood and gore are sparse. This is done tastefully by Nolan, as it gives the film a high-quality feel, compared to other war films such as Saving Private Ryan, which depicts a lot of blood and guts throughout its runtime. Let us know your thoughts on Dunkirk below…