After we walked out of the theater having watched Christopher Nolan’s new masterpiece Dunkirk, my DOD said, I know this wasn’t really your cup of meat*, but did you like it?
I gushed. I adored this movie. What a great movie. Look at how he told the story. Yeah, he said. The acting wasn’t so much the force of the movie. It was the direction. And the story.
And the soundtrack, I added.
That’s the thing about Dunkirk. Nolan goes out of the way specifically to not tell you this story in the typical way. There is no clear protagonist, no clear story arc. There is only one trumpeted moment of Hollywood victory. Every other moment of the film drops you into wartime and doesn’t pull you out until the credits roll.
Nolan has chosen to show everything and to tell nothing. Exposition in Dunkirk is held to a luddite minimum. And in most films, this would be where enjoyment breaks. In Dunkirk, it is a brilliant raconteur. It is a virtual reality machine. You viscerally experience the confusion and terror of war. By way of comparison, Saving Private Ryan toyed with this VR experience but spent most of itself creating the typical story arc. Dunkirk doesn’t do this.
Dunkirk is fully committed to showing and not telling. So if you have a friend or S/O who is the sort who asks questions during movies?
But go. This is a cinema experience you don’t want to miss. This is a gritty, horrible story beautifully shown.
*This is a phrase my Dad finds quite clever and I do not entirely disagree with him