The sea, the land, the air-three vantage points that tell the same story. Nolan’s Dunkirk is different from his body of work, which has comprised of, among other things- a bungling space drama, a psychological dead-end and a saccharine sci-fi- because it’s not contrived, for lack of a better word. It’s simple yet majestic, it transcribes the fate of young men in the throes of war and doesn’t try to overstate the urgency. The thrill is visceral and the visuals are such a treat that they do not really conjure up comparisons with other movies. It’s sort of like Gravity, a lodestar that shines, as it truly stands out among reams of other war dramas.
The word drama itself doesn’t do it justice because Dunkirk isn’t the kind of movie you’d want to pigeonhole. Sure it’s a war movie, but so far as war movies go, it’s a totally different breed. War itself isn’t the theme, survival is. The human spirit is thrust in the midst of total chaos and emerges victorious and in between scenes of unimaginable horrors, we’re shown glimpses of altruism and camaraderie. Much like life itself, Dunkirk snakes rhythmically toward a cathartic ending, with moments of trivial goodness balancing out the grotesque.
Dunkirk shows us why dialogue is overrated. I, for one, abhor verbose soliloquies that ironically tend to remind people that the character is actually acting. With limited dialogue and scenes replete with mental intensity to compensate, Dunkirk is much like a voyage, a voyage through time, through the lens of young men and hardened men alike, whose struggles, deaths and survivals have shaped the world as we know it today.