Christopher Nolan, one of the finest directors in history, tried his hand at World War II by bringing ‘Dunkirk’ to the big screen. The combat-thriller is fighting for the No.1 slot on the box office. While the movie with a budget of 100 million USD can be perfectly declared a ‘Cinematic Masterpiece’, certain reasons make me believe Nolan has not been up to the mark this time.
The movie opened with a blend of suspense, thrill, some great music by Hans Zimmer and excellent Cinematography that left me super-excited for the scenes to come. Nolan prefers showing and not telling the story and that too in his ‘trademark’ non-linear way. The movie had the story running from three different perspectives i.e. infantry, navy and air force but this time, non-linear story-telling destroyed the continuity of events.
As the movie progressed, lack of character development became one of the major issues with it. Without any background story, the characters jumped into the action and boredom crept in when none of the characters was allowed to do something unexpected or surprising.
There was nothing wrong with the acting. One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles made his first big screen debut and a fine one in “Dunkirk”. Tom Hardy brilliantly played an almost dialogue-less role of fighter pilot. Cillian Murphy played shivering soldier whose acting was undoubtedly great but his role was way too restricted. To sum it up, Nolan did choose good cast but couldn’t utilise it to the best of its potential.
The British American director reiterated his tradition of not using Computer Generated Imagery in Dunkirk too which was a poor idea for a movie that was to depict a massive evacuation of 338,000 allied troops. Nolan, instead of using CGI, resorted to 1500 extras; a crane and a Spitfire plane to recreate history. However, he missed the boat when he failed to retain the original scale of Operation Dynamo in the movie.
The absence of dialogues made me heavily reliant on the chronology which incessantly messed up the ‘already scattered’ plot. ‘Dunkirk’ was supposed to be a World War II epic but how can such an ‘epic’ be so emotionless? The movie remained cold throughout and the actors did not show any emotions. How could one expect emotions of audience to be stirred up? Being a Nolan fan, I am not used to this sort of dryness and which is why I felt really disappointed.
Being a lover of World War II epics, it was natural for me to compare Nolan’s Dunkirk with the others of the same genre but there is no comparison at all. What added insult to injury to a movie without conflict and absence of emotions was; Nolan did not attempt to provide a strong story-line.
Dunkirk successfully delivers the message but it’s the only thing that it does. If it were not Hoyte Van Hoytema’s brilliant Cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s intriguing composition, I am afraid the movie would have been a total disaster. Hoytema may get nominated for Oscar for his awesome Cinematography.
As the movie approached its ending, I was expecting Nolan to compile the scattered plot on a great climax but nothing happened there. I believe a gifted film-maker of Nolan’s caliber should not forget the basic fundamentals of film-making like he did in ‘Dunkirk’. Looking at it from the Britain’s Nationalist standpoint, Brits would like to watch “any” recreation of a historic World War II event but Nolan’s fans wouldn’t.
Christopher Nolan is well-known for his mind-boggling plot and twist ending but Dunkirk is devoid of both. Having watched all of his movies, I can say that Nolan’s depiction of ‘Operation Dynamo’ is a weak, if not the weakest, link in his chain. The much lauded director needs to understand that with The Prestige, Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, he has raised the bar too high and he is not expected to come up with ordinary stuff.