Nolan, Christopher (dir.): Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk, Syncopy, Warner Brothers and others, UK, US, France, Netherlands, 2017

Set during the Second World War, [the film, with an ensemble cast] portrays the Dunkirk evacuation … Nolan wrote the script, told from three perspectives—the land, sea, and air—to contain little dialogue and yield suspense through the visuals and music.

The film’s narrative follows three major threads covering different periods of time: one beginning on land and covering one week, one on the sea and covering one day, and one in the air covering one hour. These are interwoven in a non-linear narrative.

An introductory text states that in 1940, after the invasion of France by Nazi Germany, thousands of Allied soldiers retreated to the seaside city of Dunkirk. As the Allied perimeter shrinks, the soldiers await evacuation, a seemingly hopeless situation. (Wikipedia)

The film is reviewed for Honest History by Peter Stanley. Other reviews: David Walsh on the World Socialist Web Site (war ‘without history or politics’), Richard Brody in the New Yorker (‘patriotic ciphers’), the Guardian (Mark Kermode (‘utterly immersive’), David Cox (‘bloodless, boring and empty’), actor Tom Glynn-Carney (‘about courage and community, not war’ cf Brendan Nelson line that Anzac Day and the Australian War Memorial is ‘not about war’ but ‘love and friendship’, David Edelstein on Vulture (‘a great war movie marred by Christopher Nolan’s usual tricks’.) Trailer. Sunny Singh in Guardian on the colour of the movie – the lack of Indian and African faces. Evan Williams review in Pearls and Irritations:

I thought of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan – his devastating account of the Normandy landing, with its harrowing urgency and realism. At its best, Nolan’s film achieves something of the same power and immediacy.  A pity, I think, that it ends on a note of sentimental patriotism, with  Churchill’s most famous wartime speech heard distantly on the soundtrack.

On Indians (there weren’t all that many), see this from Logical Indian and on the lack of reference to Cypriots (not many), see this piece. A British journalist in the New York Times makes some points about Brexit and Dunkirk while an American Alt Right site reckons Dunkirk is a plug for robust nationalism. An SBS show from this year (expires early September) reckons it has new evidence – and shows the event was much bigger and messier than Christopher Nolan manages.

Other films and TV shows reviewed on the Honest History site include The Water Diviner (Peter Stanley’s review is by far the most-viewed item on our site since we began in 2013), Testament of Youth (David Stephens), Snowden (Alison Broinowski), Gallipoli (Peter Stanley), The War that Changed Us (Michael Piggott, David Stephens). For more, scroll through our Reviews.

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