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Dunkirk

Lucie Dumont, Reporter

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In 1940, 400,000 allied troops were stuck on the beach in Dunkirk, France, surrounded by Germans and virtually unable to get home. This is the story that Christopher Nolan tells in his new epic titled “Dunkirk”. The film begins by telling three stories in three different locations – “The Air”, “The Sea”, and “The Mole”. Remarkably, all of the stories you see are intertwined somehow. They all take different amounts of time and they are set in different locations; yet, eventually, almost all of the characters meet. The film switches between showing you the hour the fighter pilot spends in the plane to the day the civilians spend on their yacht, sailing across the English Channel to save as many soldiers as they can, to the week the soldiers spend on the beach.
As the narrative unravels, we follow thousands of soldiers in their struggle to reach home. The movie does not provide us with their names and background, and in fact, we do not need to know this in order to appreciate the story unfolding before our eyes on the screen. Dunkirk is not a war drama where you root for the soldier to get back home to his girlfriend. It is a tale about survival that is replete with brutal truth about war. Watching the movie truly opens your eyes to the horrifying realities of World War II and reminds us about the numerous lives that were lost ruthlessly in just one of the thousands of battles fought during the war.
The actors’ performance can be plauded although I doubt that much effort was needed to make it so outstanding: the making of the film took on such a naturalistic approach (with little to no CGI used) that even the actors themselves have stated that many of their reactions in the movie were natural. The cast is a mix of talents, ranging from Hollywood veterans like Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy to acting newcomers like Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles (yes – that Harry!), however, his star quality does not outshine any of the other performances or the quality of the film.
“You can practically see it from here.
What?
Home.”
Constantly being watched by the enemy, the soldiers are essentially trapped in the dangerous situation, with the physical proximity of the motherland to where they are only enhancing the feeling of frustration: they cannot sail to England without getting torpedoed.
The atmosphere of the film is not comparable to most movies I had seen and the movie is full of interesting director’s choices – for instance, the constant ticking of an invisible clock in the background of almost every scene subconsciously makes you more and more on edge. While the film aims at a large scale and much of it is centered around explosions and yelling, there are powerful moments of silence as well, for example, as the main characters are walking alone in the ruins of a town or sitting on the beach watching someone attempt to swim back to England, only the sound of the wind whistling by break the silence. These moments add an almost eerie sense to the movie. There’s little dialogue, but you will find out that not much is needed to convey the strength of the message.
The result is a suspenseful, eye-opening epic that keeps you hooked for the duration of the movie and causes you to reflect upon watching it.

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Dunkirk