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Dunkirk

When 400,000 men couldn't get home, home came for them. 

Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 (70mm) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Christopher Nolan 
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, Tom Hardy 
An image from Dunkirk

Review:

Dunkirk is an unshakeable account of Britain’s darkest hour as the British army, surrounded by German forces, attempt to evacuate their men across the channel.

The film follows multiple immersive and engaging narrative strands which continue to overlap as Nolan stitches together stories which jump around in time. We are shown three perspectives of the rescue, at sea, in the air and on land, each with a different time-scale.

The protagonist’s generic name, Tommy, used for all British soldiers, reflects how he represents the individual stories of thousands of soldiers in a hopeless situation just trying to get home. The longing to get back home is a recurrent theme, with the word ‘home’ repeated numerous times throughout the film. However, though England may be tantalisingly close, their escape across the channel is a near impossible feat.

The script is half the length of what Nolan normally works with as the primal simplicity of the need to survive is reflected in the minimalistic and urgent dialogue. This allows the audience to focus on the textures and the wide-angle shots as the moving, dramatic sound-track engages and invests us in each narrative.

Throughout the film, the gritty isolation of fear is explored as we see ant-like soldiers peppering the long stretches of empty beach and as we experience the terrifying drowning scenes which recur as the different timelines overlaps and parallel each other. This feeling of panic and despair continues throughout the film; as we intimately follow the experience of the soldiers Nolan shows us the visceral reality of Dunkirk and the bitter reality of war.

Alice Saunders

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Autumn Term (70mm)
2017/2018 Autumn Term (70mm)