Us humans are weird.We inflict atrocities of every imaginable kind on each other whenever we engage in conflicts and once we are done, we look back, searching for moments that unveil the humane side of our nature as a species, those very aspects that make us human and epitomise our infallible spirit, amidst the trail of death and destruction we leave behind.We have done this with every major and minor wars we have fought, using every medium of expression at our disposal in the era they were fought, from art to literature to cinema.Of all these wars, the Second World War has proven to be the most popular source material for cinema, which is especially true for Hollywood.The recent Netflix documentary “Five Came Back” narrates the experiences of five major Hollywood directors who were enlisted to document WWII.Maybe this is one of the reasons why the war has been a prolific backdrop to countless war movies in the past seven decades or so.So it would have been a conspicuous absence in his repertoire in terms of genre if Nolan did not have a war film to his name.He “announced” a while back that he was coming our way with his take on the war and now he has arrived, and how.
Dunkirk is not a movie by Nolan, rather its nothing less than a military assault on the viewer by this master of the craft of filmmaking , if you ask me.Nolan drowned me, set me on fire ,shot at me, let me fall from the sky and yes of course,bombed the hell out of me, to his heart’s content for a little over an hour and a half that it left me deeply disturbed and strangely hopeful at the same time, by the time the movie was over.Now I do not know if that was his intention, i can only speak for myself and this indeed was my experience and the movie wasn’t even in 3D, nor did i watch it on an IMAX .He followed up every moment of hope with another moment of deep despair that you almost ended up hating him for doing that to you, on a consistent basis.
The Sundowner,the original yacht on which the “Sea” part of the movie is based ,ferried 130 people to safety and was captained by a 66 year old former second officer of the Titanic, his son and a teenage scout. Nolan relies entirely on visuals and music to retell this tale of one of the most poignant rescues in the history of human conflict. I can’t recall watching another war movie which has built up such tension on screen that the viewer’s heart rate matched the crescendo of the background music right from the word go to the final scene.In fact i think it would be unfair to call Hans Zimmer’s work in this film “background” music so to speak, the movie would be something else entirely, without it.Tom Hardy hardly gets to show his face or his body from neck down to be specific, still he is a major presence, throughout.Cillian Murphy, another Nolan regular shows up as a haunting character too.
To take a cue from Dunkirk’s dialogue, the men who are of the age to decide to send men who are of age to fight on the ground, to wars, should be asked to watch this film.There’s an off chance that we might end up with lesser news of death and destruction to wake up to every morning.But hey then again, as Ozzy sang, I’m just a dreamer.