Dunkirk : an immersive and overwhelming cinema experience

Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on August 28, 2017.

It’s a film with no particular star of the show, and a non-linear timeline of events. It doesn’t over-explain anything and leaves many things up to the audience to decide. It is a self-confessed selective and somewhat romanticised look at a truly horrific period of history. Nevertheless, ‘Dunkirk’ is one of the most overwhelming experiences […]

Dunkirk, (2017)

Dunkirk, (2017)

It’s a film with no particular star of the show, and a non-linear timeline of events. It doesn’t over-explain anything and leaves many things up to the audience to decide. It is a self-confessed selective and somewhat romanticised look at a truly horrific period of history. Nevertheless, ‘Dunkirk’ is one of the most overwhelming experiences to have crossed a cinema screen for many years.

There are many familiar faces but they all appear to be of the time; they all look and sound exactly right for their characters (as they should, since Christopher Nolan refused to cast anyone who wasn’t British or Irish for any role, for authenticity).

Nolan has been criticised for leaving out key historical points such as the efforts made by Britain’s allies and for not depicting a multicultural British army. However, he freely admits that this was not ever supposed to be a factual war epic; it was intended as a collection of human stories, interlinked and interwoven throughout a terrible time in history.

Tom Hardy in Dunkirk (2017)

Tom Hardy in Dunkirk (2017)

The viewer gets thrown in the deep end whether they like it or not. After watching this film, whether impressed or disgusted, you will have experienced a birds-eye view of the French coast from inside a British Spitfire. The camera angles used when the huge metal gunships keel over on the screen have the disconcerting effect of making the viewer feel like they are on the boat as it sinks. You can nearly feel the salt and sand with every bomb that explodes on the beach.

Having said there was no particular star of the show, it should be noted that there were many. It’s not a traditional film layout and Nolan has also been criticised for lack of character development but as many of the characters explain during the course of events, they are simply men trying to survive and get home – how much more character development is needed, really?

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk (2017)

It may not be the usual Hollywood fare; it’s not Saving Private Ryan. For those who know Christopher Nolan from Inception and Interstellar, it’s closer to the latter than the former. It will leave you guessing on some fronts but will leave you in no doubt of the tremendous bravery and sacrifice that characterised this period in history.

If you’re looking for other unusual screen offerings, Christopher Nolan’s previous non – Hollywood – style films, Interstellar and Inception, are both available in Fingal Libraries.

For those who feel Nolan may have left out too much historical detail, an extensive range of history books covering the period in the film are available in Fingal Libraries.

By Aileen Gallagher, Fingal Libraries