okay so, i had A LOT of thoughts about this film post-screening and literally whipped out my phone almost immediately after leaving the screen to make notes but half-way down the escalator, on my way out, i kinda stopped typing and was like ‘hold up b… put your phone away and just think about it fam, let this white man patriotic af piece of #art just wash over you’ so basically, i can’t remember all the fake deep and (probably not so) important thoughts i had and wanted to share.
i think that when i initially left, i felt somewhat blown away by it (idk why i just wrote that when talking about a war film smh) but in hindsight, i’m a bit… underwhelmed (ish)… i can’t say i care much for nolan or war films, maybe bc i’ve not seen enough of the latter but i can see why ppl are so into him. i totally get why all the bros think the dark knight is the goat, 16 y/o me even tweeted about how inception apparently ‘blew my mind’ (oh to be that young and dumb again) anddd i even took a train to birmingham to see interstellar in an imax cinema so like, there’s obvs some kinda appreciation and love etc for him but i wasn’t at all interested in dunkirk? even harry styles didn’t sway me! in the end it took the whole 70mm / IMAX bullshit on twitter for me to be like ‘okay fine, i’ll see it’.
in a weird turn of events, i actually ended up north last weekend which meant it was super easy for me to escape to manchester and catch a screening the way nolan intended. this came after bitching for like a good half hour that there were only THREE cinemas in the uk showing it in 70mm IMAX (smh!!) so yeah, well blessed about that bc honestly, fuck paying £££ go catch a train to ldn or mcr just for a movie, right???
this whole 70mm debate thing is a weird one. i can’t say i particularly care much about film formats? occasionally, it’s nice to see a 35mm print of an old film i love on the big screen and i’ll definitely pay stupid money to see a blockbuster in IMAX but generally speaking, i don’t rly give a fuck… re: dunkirk, i haven’t seen it on a regular screen (yet, most probably will) so i suppose i can’t compare / contrast w accuracy but i can safely say – fuck me, dunkirk in 70mm IMAX is for sure a pure cinematic experience BUT i think that’s probably the extent of the praise i can give it. i understand that not everyone can afford to see it that way and ofc, cinema should be accessible to everyone but i rly don’t understand the ppl out here bitching about nolan (kinda like that whole netflix debate all over again, well, it essentially is) for asking that his work be seen in 70mm IMAX… like… wyd? either way, it’s all gna eventually trickle down to netflix and tv, so what’s so wrong in it getting a 70mm IMAX release for those ppl who wna see it in that format? cinema IS meant to be seen on the big screen, it’s as simple as that and with a film like this, that big screen experience is its only merit? anwayyy, that was a somewhat unnecessary and pointless rant… let’s talk about harry styles.
the cast is a good place to start on my thoughts in general. SO. how fucking handsome are those guys??? this is the part where i shamelessly profess that i fell in love w a bunch of white guys; the main guy and the (spoiler alert) french guy and, even harry styles and tom hardy and cillian murphy (major heart eyes) and the scottish dude who i thought was ewan mcgregor (lol) and fuck it, even daddy kenneth branagh (you’re lying if you say you don’t love all 5000 of his shakespeare adaptations). granddad mark rylance was alright too, i guess… i sort of hated the bfg and it’s all i could think about every time he was on screen so meh. but yeah, kudos to nolan for picking a bunch of handsome white bros + harry styles, who (maybe not so shockingly) can actually act? someone put him in some dumb rom-com bc i will pay to see it. i’m thinking now that maybe it was just the lack of dialogue in the film that made me think he was incredible whenever he opened his mouth – in reality, he’s probs mediocre at best.
edit: on the topic of white guys, would it rly have been so difficult for nolan to drop a bunch of south asian and black troops in the film? i mean, they were certainly there, fighting at dunkirk along w the white men, so why not include them? the film has such limited dialogue, they wouldn’t even have to speak, so why not include a few faces? i read a very excellent thread on twitter (and didn’t save to share bc i’m an idiot) where the writer talked about how you’re racist and complicit if you choose to ignore this issue. i initially ignored it bc in a way, i sort of understood why nolan didn’t bother but after reading said thread, i’m very much inclined to agree w what the lady wrote and actually feel quite disappointed. on a somewhat similar note however, i disagree w the whole feminist / lack of woman issue; i mean, yh, he could have made a movie about the women in dunkirk, the ones who were heavily involved in the war effort and whatnot and yh, it’s disappointing that i think a grand total of one woman speaks during the whole film? but asking for more females in a film that’s literally about a section of history that involves men literally being blown up on a beach is a pretty dumb take, in my humble opinion…
ANYWAY, now that i’ve got harry styles and feminism covered (ish), the fuck was up w that narrative? i don’t get what nolan was tryna do like we all know he loves to fuck shit up ie. inception and memento, etc but for dunkirk i felt like he tried to do that whole 3 different time periods thing; one hour, one day, one week and it was just shit… i rly wasn’t into it. maybe i’m dumb but i didn’t *get* it?! there was this part where we went from c murphy in a boat post-rescue to him tryna get off dunkirk and then he’s on a plane and i just… idk what i missed? clearly a re-watch is in order but even then, i’m sure i would still find this film completely disappointing from that perspective.
a good thing about this film tho is hoyte van hoytema. my dude did a seriously good job, i mean he always does a good job but the more i think about this film as i write, the more i’m like wow that was actually an incredibly boring film BUT the cinematography was beautiful, each frame stunning. in a way, the whole feel of the film is this weird small scale epic? i realise that calling it an epic perhaps might be contradictory given its claustrophobic nature and setting but like… it kind of definitely is an epic? it’s uncomfortably quiet also, it has that standard haunting hans zimmer score and it’s probably less than 20% dialogue; deathly quiet ft. the sound of the sea and gunshots, kinda dig it except for the whole jumping in my seat bc of unexpected gunfire.
i’ve realised i’m already out of words and thoughts and that actually, maybe this film wasn’t all that and is probs one of nolan’s weakest… i don’t want to slate it though bc it’s certainly an ‘experience’ (if you will) and absolutely worth a watch (absolutely in 70mm IMAX IF you can but if not, you definitely do not need to do that) yet despite all its cinematic glory, it’s actually completely forgettable… tbh, the only thing that i’m left w (like after most films about war tbh) is the monumental loss of life of the real life soldiers? so to end on a v fun and fake deep note: perhaps that was the point of this film… a lesson in how wars are bad, and how hideous and tragic it was that all these men lost their lives like that, in a war that should never have even happened? hmm