So I watched this movie yesterday with my two other friends after the cinema told us that Despicable Me 3 wasn’t being shown anymore (Oh noooOOoooo, darn). So it was about 8:30 PM and I already felt tired due to my recent earth-scorching terra-forming fight with the common cold, which is a surprising amount of factors that still made me want to see this 2 hour Christopher Nolan-christened history lesson. The film is set in war torn France predominantly on the beaches of Dunkirk focused on Nonetheless, this was an extremely solid movie and was very well done, so here’s my thoughts on it.
Naturally, spoilers ahead.
So music in movies are meant to evoke emotions, fill in a silence in a scene, or even create immersion. Very, very organic way to make a movie come to life. Luckily, in most Christopher Nolan movies, he teams up with ear-virginity slayer Hans Zimmer to produce a sound track that allows you to see into the fourth dimension while doing laundry if you’re listening to him. He’s great. Ha. So back to the movie, most of the soundtrack consists of very low-toned music with not much differences in pitch. That’s an amazing thing I realized, as Hans Zimmer managed to completely capture the mood. War isn’t supposed to be bouncy or even exciting in a way, but instead supposed to be reflected as somber or mournful (evident by the overall color tone of the movie, which essentially was a stark gray). However, when the music doesn’t consist of several notes played over very long intervals, it radically shifts into fitting into a situation with extremely high tension (there’s a lot of these moments). For example, at one point, the British soldiers (including a French imposter and a British singer) are trapped in a boat that was recently used for a bullet sponge by Germans with water slowly flowing into the boat as the ship gets smacked by high tide. The music suddenly changes into a set that has singular notes spaced out, but slowly the space in between them gets much shorter, reflecting a heartbeat. So in a way, this music makes you feel the paranoia and tension that the soldiers feel, evident by the fear shown by their heart pounding.
Oh, and the music definitely foreshadows some shit’s going to go down by how much it escalates in intensity. Textual representation:
The acting was pretty solid, seeing grown men shell-shocked and watching soldiers turn on their own fellow human beings really show you the horrors of war and how a ridiculous amount of stress can affect a person’s psyche. Like, war sucks, a lot, and these people knew how to show it. Another key point in the movie is that there is hardly any dialogue, but here’s the thing, there’s no fat, no sugar coating, no bullshit in the dialogue. Nearly every line said possessed some meaning or was essential in the plot, what they couldn’t fill in with words, they conveyed with actions. Oh also there’s a part where this kid gets an overdose of concussive blast to head and the soldier is SUPER messed up about it.
This film was praised for its historical accuracy, and if you’re an average person living in the United States, what the hell is a Dunkirk? Well it was a very pivotal battle in France that also included a mass evacuation, which is what the film focuses on. The movie has 3 separate parts: The Mole, which is the beach all the soldiers were essentially stranded on. The Sea, where a bunch of ships are being taken over by the military to be sent to help evacuate the solders on The Mole, and The Air, where Bane/Mad Max is in the air shooting down German pilots who are bombing the ever-loving shit out of everything happy in this movie. The movie pretty much plays out like this: These people are stranded on a beach and it’s actually complete ass. Meanwhile, pretty much all the ships being sent there have had a trouble with being exploded, so MORE ships are being sent there, and up in the air the awesome face-changing dude from Inception is suffering from a fuel shortage and has to sacrifice some fuel to shoot down fun serial killers. Eventually, casualties were at an unprecedented low and over 300,000 men were saved, while some kid on a civilian boat suffers from head bleedy outie and Mad Max gets kidnapped after being essential in taking down a bomber that would’ve caused even MORE mayhem.
So What Went Wrong?
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie but there were some points that I couldn’t really get past.
Okay, so you know how before I was talking about how the Navy was Mr. Steal Your Boat? Well there was this one boat that was like, “nah” and kinda disembarked without anyone’s permission. The crew consisted of old man Dawson, a mariner, his son Peter, and his son’s playmate, George, who’s whole shtick was that he wanted to something noteworthy. Keep that in mind. The only noteworthy thing he really did was load supplies onto the boat at the beginning. Otherwise, throughout the movie, he was hardly evident or even essential to the plot. How I described it to my friend during the 15 minute ride home, “You can like, totally remove him from the movie and there’d be NO difference.” So the whole big thing surrounding him is that during a power struggle on the civilian’s boat, he becomes mind blasted and falls down the stairs, which is bad. There was blood. And it eventually lead to his death. To respect his friend’s wishes, Peter goes to a newspaper and gets George immortalized as a hero during the battle of Dunkirk.
Call me a cynical ass all you want, but I really really really REALLY disliked George’s role in this. He contributed actually nothing to the plot. Some may argue that he was a tangible representation of the horrors of war and the results of being in wartime, but that’s the thing. He wasn’t in it, at all. He wasn’t even present or alive when the boat was in ACTUAL danger. So what happened is that this kid fell down the stairs and earned a significant section in the newspaper while all the other soldiers who literally either get killed or maimed severely in the line of duty get nil. His whole presence in the movie sort of made me very frustrated.
Drifting our attention to The Air, Tom Hardy was a pilot who in the grand scheme of all kerfuffles, gets the short end in terms of fuel, to the point where he has to benchmark how much fuel he has based on time, since the gauge broke, war is hell. Near the end of the movie you can see how insane his actions are. He sacrificed his own well being and fuel to take care of the bombers that were literally ruining EVERYTHING and relatively every dogfight in the air was intense. But therein lies the rough. My friend thinks otherwise, but I personally did not feel the intensity or even completely importance of his role until the end. Due to the camera angles and the way all of his parts were shot, it sort of just seemed that he was pretty much flying through the air pew-pewing German birdies. The way the movie portrayed it, in my opinion, just seemed like it severely downplayed his importance by a huge amount of scale when compared to, ugh, George.
There are two vital parts that I think can be considered a climax. At one point, the military commander sees a bunch of ships coming towards the beach and he’s like “oh no” then he looks through his binoculars and sees that it’s a bunch of British ships, and he’s like “oh yes. :’) ” The other moment was when the beach sees for the third time in the movie, a big ol’ swasticopter glide towards them and everyone thinks it’s gonna drop the un-fun boomy boomy. But wait! TOM HARDY saves the day by shooting it down and everyone cheers.
In history and in the movie, these were two very very essential turns in the battle, leading to a successful rescue attempt and strikingly low casualties. However, the way the scene played out, as well as how it transitioned into it just made the moment seem not that grand or amazing. If anything, it kind of makes you go “Oh, neat” instead of “OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS OKAY BREATHE, JUST BREATHE, I WAS ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT.” Like, for as HUGE as these events were, it just didn’t seem like it got the spotlight or attention that it really deserved.
Dunkirk is a great movie with its flaws, naturally, everything isn’t perfect. Its soundtrack is very well done and highly reflective of the situation it shows, and the action in the movie was thrilling and intense. Albeit, there was a lack of showcasing the importance of some people or events, or in other cases, the highlighting of things that don’t need it. The way it was directed and produced, how the story played out and how it was constructed worked perfectly and meshed together to make a confusing, yet very coherent plot that all wraps up in the end.
The Annoyance Test: