Review: 'Dunkirk' is a powerful cinematic experience

KUSA - Dunkirk isn't Saving Private Ryan and that may be my favorite part about it. 

The film, which is best viewed in a theater with 70mm capabilities, is a cinematic masterpiece in its direction and cinematography. 

It's dialogue is sparse, but powerful. That restraint is one of the film's strongest attributes. 

The theme music, composed by Hans Zimmer, is intense. For some, it may take away from the film, but for me, it added to its art. 

The screams of the German Luftwaffe Stukas bring more drama than any spoken word. 

Even Harry Styles (yes, that Harry Styles from One Direction), puts on a moving performance, alongside young British actor, Fionn Whitehead.

This isn't a story about America, but it doesn't matter. The struggle of French and British troops brings light to a part of the war many in the millennial generation may have never even heard of.

With beautifully shot, authentic scenes, Dunkirk shares the story, in a non-linear timeline, of the evacuation of British Troops from Dunkirk, France back to England, while under attack from heavy German forces from May 26, 1940 – Jun 4, 1940. 

It runs a bit shorter than the typical 'war' movie. At under two hours, it's an ideal length to tell a powerful, moving story without gruesome violence or unnecessary drama. The true story behind the film makes it powerful enough all on its own. 

9NEWS Promotions Producer and Photographer Enrico Meyer provides a detailed synopsis and breakdown of the film below.

This is the first time I’m reviewing a movie for 9NEWS. Instead of an overview & thoughts, I’ll break it down into five categories: Story / Script, Audio / Music, Cinematography, Editing, Acting, & Direction. I’ll award each a rating 1-5. Warning: very slight spoilers ahead.

Story / Script
4

There’s very little dialogue in this movie – and that’s what sets it apart. It gives you a realistic feeling of what the evacuation may have felt like. Another smart choice – no one says the phrase Nazi, or are we even shown swastika’s, typically prevalent in WWII films. Onscreen, they are the enemy, and, rarely seen on camera, which adds to the intensity of the film.

Audio / Music
5

A highlight. The soundtrack and sound mixing both enhanced the movie. Whether it was the tension filled music or bombs going off in the distance, both were mixed beautifully. 


Cinematography
5

Nolan’s best camera work, period. The shots are big, and the style is used smartly. Here’s an example: two men are transporting a wounded soldier on a stretcher. While running on the beach, it’s shot handheld. When they get to solid ground, it switches to a Steadicam / stable shot. That’s helping tell the story. That’s smart filmmaking.

Editing
3.5

The pacing of the movie is what stands out. Running at 106 minutes, it’s not too long, but not too short. It felt right. The non-linear story took a minute to understand. Once you did, it made the story even better. Some poor jump cuts stood out to me.

Acting
4

With so little dialogue, the actors did so much. You could see the fear in their faces. Dunkirk is classic example of a great ensemble cast. For a movie with three parts – you weren’t waiting for one part of the story to come back – they were all equally told well. A lot of that is a testament to the cast.

Direction
5

This has been said a lot – and I’ll echo it: this is Christopher Nolan’s best movie. His direction is smart, his story is tight, and his movie is well told. It’s his vision that makes Dunkirk what it is. Look for him as a front runner for Best Director at the Oscars. The things I didn’t like were very minute. (noticeable jump cuts, not much history given on the actual event, the final aerial battle)


Overall Grade
4.41 out of 5

Dunkirk has been one of the better movies I’ve viewed over the past five years. It’s a rare thing now, but the audience was silent during the entire screening. No phones out, no talking with each other – just experiencing the film.

The things I didn’t like were very minute, (noticeable jump cuts, not much history given on the actual event, the final aerial battle), and didn’t get in the way of the story. The movie grabs you from the start, and keeps your attention the whole picture.

Is it necessary to see in 70mm? Not sure. I did, and will say, the picture looked gorgeous and rich. Whether it’s that version, or a regular 35mm print, seeing it in theaters is a must, and well worth the time and money.

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© 2017 KUSA-TV


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