I grew up on Dunkirk street. I lived in a town where all the street names have some sort of historic significance. All I knew of the event growing up was that it was a large retreat in early WWII. That certainly doesn't mean much on its own, it's hard to understand or fathom the logistics in moving 400k men off a beach that has only one pier large enough to dock ships.
Christopher Nolan has succeeded in doing something very special here, making you not only understand these things but feel what it was like to be there on that beach. Feel the impending dangers from all sides, from sea, land and air. You will feel the sense of purpose in being the owner of a pleasure boat and being tasked with saving human lives. You'll certainly feel the moments of panic and terror, but you'll also feel the pride as a Spitfire clears dangers for helpless troops on the ground.
I luckily got to see this in 70mm and would strongly recommend doing the same. Anyone that waits to see this on their iPad is doing both the film and themselves a disservice. It's visually striking in many ways, most of which are following thtee RUF pilots as they try to provide air cover. Even just the wide expanse of the beach is something that needs to be seen on 70mm to be felt.
This war movie will set the tone early that it is not your typical gore-filled war movie. An early dropped bomb sends a handful of soldiers up into the air, and you are sitting there bracing for body parts to rain down on the beach, but they never come. You are spared what they were not. The movie delivers the full sound and fear of having dive-bombers coming right for you, without the need to show the gritty aftermath. I think the movie is the better for it as well.
I loved the newspapers at the end as well. I had my hopes up pretty high for this movie and it surpassed them. Must be seen on the big screen.
Heart rating: 4.5 stars
Brain rating: 4.5 stars