The Edit

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Let’s make this clear right now – this is not the kind of film where you just sit back, relax, and tune out as the story unfolds. And I mean that in the best possible way.

While in some movies I find that I play a role of a mere spectator to someone else’s story, that’s not the case with Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk”. Dunkirk’s brilliance is that in its more poignant parts, I found myself actually immersed in the story. Not as an outsider, watching it happen, but as someone who was there, experiencing it too.

From the minute the film opened, the first gunshot sounds nearly jolting me out of my seat (which would have been really embarrassing considering the IMAX theatre was packed and silent), I was completely engrossed. Dunkirk opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. They are trapped on the beach, backs to the sea, as the enemy closes in. There was a sequence right at the beginning (and I won’t divulge it here because #spoileralert) where I realized that while this is a film made last year, the reality is that as history dictates, this really happened. Seeing all the actors dressed in costume, all looking identical with their haircut, was sobering. I think we often forget that back in those days young men also went to war, and thinking about that in a modern context made me really sad.

Which naturally brings me to the ensemble. Casting choice is excellent (Will I ever be over how good Cillian Murphy was? Time will tell), and I love that the literal star-studded cast wasn't just a marketing ploy to promote the movie, but was an appropriate and fitting choice of actors to bring these characters to life. I also love that the younger actors took the lead in the story while the bigger names on the film played supporting roles. Not that one role was more substantial than the other. I actually thought that each of the characters was well developed and when their stories came to an end, the film did justice to the characters that they have crafted so well.

Then there’s the beauty that is the cinematography. Going into a Nolan film, I already had an inkling that it was going to be visually stunning but this just blew me away. I especially enjoyed the colour treatment (seen in the photos above) of the film and liked the contrast of how soft and light and pastel blue-y (LOL) it was - definitely a stark contrast to its dark subject. The scenes where the gleaming blue ocean quite literally took my breath away! Pair that with a Hans Zimmer score and you get an experience like no other.

Underneath the grim circumstance that Dunkirk presents is a story of hope, of resilience, of the inherent kindness of people in such an impossible circumstance. It is the kind of film that couldn’t have come out at a better time. We all need to be reminded of hope especially in trying circumstances, and although dark and at times uncomfortable to watch, did a great job in that. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry this time (I am known to be quite, ahem, emotional when watching films) but I left the theatre feeling a hopeful kind of sad. Dunkirk is a moving tribute and retelling of a story that deserves nothing less.

Dunkirk opens in NZ on Thursday, July 27, 2017. You can watch the trailer here. Special thanks to Undertow Media for supplying the images and my friend Steph for dragging me out on a Tuesday night. Also thank you Dan Hooker. You're the best. Literally, 

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