War movies have a long history in cinema. There are some famous ones like Acopolype Now (1979) from Francis Ford Coppola or Full Metal Jacket (1987) from Standly Kubric. Both tells us a story in or around the vietnam war. Also in the modern days the topic war is still present. This will showen by movies like Saving private Ryan (1998) from Stevan Spielberg or the untypically Italian Western Inglourious Bastards (2009) from Quantin Tarantino. All of these movies are totally different in presentation. The question is, which intention will be focused, the war or the consequences of the war?
Like Tarantino, Christopher Nolan is one of the last directors with an strong focus on analog production. So there is no wonder that Dunkirk will be produced in 70mm. It is a high-resolution film gauge for still and motion picture photography, with higher resolution than the standard 35 mm motion picture film format. This makes totally sense if you look at the screensplay. In Dunkirk you will find a lot of scenes with the intension that only the pictures tell the story. These pictures are very detailed and full of shocking facts about war. There is no doubt that Dunkirk is a success if you look at the sound effects and camera screenplay. Also music composer Hans Zimmer adds an great minimal soundtrack.
The movie it self tells us three different stories. 1. The Mole: The perspective of the soldier Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead. It starts at the streets of Dunkirk as he was under attack by the germans. Later he met another young french soldier Gibson. Both support them each other in all different war scenarios. 2. The Sea: The secound one is about a family and the evacuation by sea. Mr Dawson played by Mark Rylance and his sons started thier own rescue mission without the help of the Royal Navy. This risky plan includes some dramatic experiences by sea. 3. The Air: The air strikes are focused on three Spitfires, piloted by Farrier, Collins and their Squadron Leader. They encounter German fighters and get into a dogfight, during which ‘Fortis Leader’ is shot down. Farrier assumes command, and although his fuel gauge is shattered, they continue towards France. His colleagues machine was damaged, so he have to fight still alone in the next attacking scenes.
Conclusion: If you expected a feature film you might be disappointed, because Dunkirk is very minimalistic and more an art movie than a normal story telling movie. And there is also the strengthen and the weaknesses. The presentation by screen and soundtrack is impressive because if you look in the younger past you will not pick a lot of movies with these strong intension. Nolan purports only the pictures and the story that results in. The thoughts of the protagonists can be imagine by the spectator himself. This results in a very personal an oppressive war movie that we haven’t seen until now!