For a movie about World War 2, Director Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ seems to lack actual combat.
It depicts the historical events of the Battle of Dunkirk through a beautifully shot and composed series of scenes; (Nolan again used film for this movie rather than digital,) but with all the astonishing visuals and sound, the movie was at times incoherent. In addition to having a choppy feel throughout, ‘Dunkirk’ leaves out critical details about the battle, which would have greatly enhanced the film.
The Battle of Dunkirk: The defense and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Dunkirk, France from 26 May to 4 June 1940. With the German Army closing in on over 400,000 troops on all sides, the only option was to evacuate all soldiers to Britain, just 26 miles over the channel. However, since the water was too shallow for large navy vessels, hundreds of civilian boats came to the soldiers’ rescue from Britain, and in the end 330,000 troops were rescued.
The movie does a good job of documenting that last part, but it fails to show anything other than the British perspective; Canada, France, Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands all had men on the beach as well. Furthermore, there were some 40,000 French troops left behind and forced to surrender to the Germans – ‘Dunkirk’ never once acknowledges this.
Other disappointing qualities in the movie are some meaningless dialogue, and unessential plot elements at times. Although the cast is filled with stars like Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Harry Styles; they are unable to save the movie from the sparse and mediocre writing. There’s no real ‘message’ in Dunkirk. Also, the film has a sub-plot line about a man’s son, whose friend is injured on a rescue boat, and while adding nothing to the story, it provides a superficial layer of emotion.
Now with all that set aside, ‘Dunkirk’ is a beautiful film. The score, sound effects, and cinematography are fantastic, and it’s great in 70mm film IMAX. But with its greatness comes many, many flaws – and it doesn’t really compare to some of the other great WW2 films in past decades.