Praise Nolan for making Dunkirk a one of a kind experience – an unconventional war movie with three separate narratives in addition to its main narrative (the exodus of 300,000 soldiers cornered by enemies in Dunkirk), a supposedly anti-Hollywood war drama that isn’t really anti-Hollywood considering its not so modest budget.
Nolan plays with mirrors, contrasts; that old officer wanting to send his armies home and the other older guy wanting to take them in his boat; Cillian Murphy’s traumatized soldier who doesn’t wanna go back to hell and the eager young boy George who hasn’t been to war and hasn’t seen it all; Tom Hardy’s heroic pilot vs. the cowardly soldier who just wanted to poop. And also, Tom Hardy’s pilot who successfully completed his mission but got caught by the enemy and his buddy who couldn’t finish the mission and got rescued by the friendlies.
Technically, this is better than his Batman movies. It’s a great piece of filmmaking that, I hope was also equally thrilling. An epic filmmaking for a not so epic way of telling a story based on actual events. Nolan wanted to keep it small, personal, but also big and epic at the same time. How did he do that? He spliced the narrative, tinkered with the timeline.
It’s a film that thrills the eyes, the ears, sometimes the brain, sometimes the heart. But not something that thrills the eyes, the ears, and the brain at the same time, and better leave your heart at the door because there’s little use for it. The three way climax makes for very little emotional build up; Nolan wants you to calculate it, time it, instead of feel it. And since I’m not good at math, my biggest emotional response was “Shucks! That guy from One Direction didn’t make it!”