“Dunkirk” a Relentless War Movie
By Skip Sheffield
“Dunkirk” is a war film that just won’t quit. From the first frames to the finale, “Dunkirk” is all action, all the time. Writer-director Christopher Nolan captures the desperate plight of 400,000 Allied troops, from France, Belgium, England and Canada in that dark time from May 26 to June 4, 1940 on the northwest coast of France.
The film unfolds in real-time fashion. The surrounded men are helpless and pretty much hopeless. Their only defense was hotshot British Spitfire fighter planes, with Farrier (Tom Hardy) offering us a point of view. On the beach we have Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance representing the grunts and Kenneth Branagh as their Commander Bolton.
“Dunkirk” occurred before the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941 forced the United States into the Second World War. For that reason the desperate stand-off between Allied and German forces is little-known in America. British-born writer-director Christopher Nolan (the “Batman” Dark Knight Series and “Inception”) has corrected that oversight.
“Dunkirk” is relentless, underscored by a fiery score by Hans Zimmer. This is not light entertainment, but it is a vivid history lesson, building to a climax of ragtag civilian boats coming from England, just 26 miles away. It is impossible not to be moved by Winston Churchill’s famous speech on British resolve to never surrender. In this case it is spoken by a British Army grunt, reading from a newspaper account. That is a fitting touch.