TV/Film

Dunkirk: Nolan tells a story of survival, heroism and cowardice

We just got back from Dunkirk, where we were to attend the premiere of the film. We did film our journey but we’re still pondering whether to upload it online or not (loads of screaming and short glimpses of the cast). Anyway! Warner organised a special pre-screening of the film yesterday evening for the locals; we managed to get a seat and here’s what we have to say about one of the most anticipated films of the summer…

Just like with La La Land, the world is fond of Dunkirk, even before its release. Now, we disliked the first one and so, we decided to ignore the hype and discover the later with an open mind.

This film is one of a kind: it’s not your classical story-telling motion picture because you’re not given any back story or specific information about any of the characters. Without preamble, you’re thrown into the streets of 1940 Dunkerque and moved onto the beach of Malo, along other soldiers. Many, many other soldiers; about 400 thousands, to be precise.

 

The story is told from three different points of views: the mole, the air and the sea. All three stories involve different characters that each represents a different way of reacting to the events. Some show bravery, some cowardice, some will be fearless, some will break under the pressure. Some will live and some will die.

We don’t want to single out any actor because they all do a fantastic job. Newcomers are just bloody brilliant and veterans of the big screen give outstanding performances. It feels like a proper ensemble and it flows naturally, no one being misplaced.

The soundtrack is keeping you on edge throughout the whole duration of the film. Not in an obvious way, just as a reminder than time is moving against the characters. It makes you want to shout: “FASTER, MOVE FASTER” pretty much the whole time!

The enemy is not embodied, which could have been a tricky decision. Nolan expects you to know at least the very basics on Operation Dynamo and WW2.

The only downside we have to express – because, come on! nothing is ever 100% perfect – is that the ending feels a bit too heroic in the sense that the events that happened in Dunkirk in 1940 have been seen as a failure for a long, long time. It was a tipping point in WW2 and we could have simply lost the war over it. For years – and that is probably why we had to wait so long for a motion picture this big on Dunkirk – soldiers that escaped from those beaches didn’t want to mention what happened. So, the whole heroic feeling is not quite historically accurate. We guess Nolan wanted to finish on that positive note because, nowadays, Operation Dynamo is considered for what it really is: a bloody miracle!

To go the extra mile: watch “Weekend at Dunkirk” (French film from 1964 about the evacuation of French soldiers).

Little add-on because we have Belgian roots: 16,000 Belgians soldiers were also evacuated from Dunkirk.