There have been a lot of war films. Many of them are steeped in patriotism. Many others depict the gruesome realities soldiers have to face. Others delve into the insanity some have to embrace in order to get through the day. And then thereís films like ĎDunkirkí, which better than any other film Iíve ever seen, embraces the chaos and sheer will one needs to survive.
The film weaves together three different stories. One takes place on the beach of Dunkirk, where hundreds of thousands of British troops are waiting to cross the English Channel; theyíre surrounded by German troops. The second story takes place at sea, where a man, his son and his sonís friend set off in a small pleasure boat to help ferry British troops to the mainland. The final story takes place in the air, where three small fighters are deployed to assist in the evacuation. What makes it a true stroke of genius is how these stories are told. Thereís (roughly) equal screen time to each, but they take place over different time lengths (one week, one day, one hour, respectively). As a result, you can see several different events from different perspectives. It also adds to the drama; you can see one event from an outside perspective before it happens from a different one. Itís very innovative.
As memorable as the editing is, what Iíll remember more than anything else is how intense everything is. We get minimal context; we merely get the will to survive amidst all the chaos. This is particularly evident in the beach timeline. Itís simply one manís struggle to get off the beach (and, well, survive). But the other story lines are just as intense. On the sea, three non-combatants work together to reach the French coast. They are risking their lives to do the little bit of help they can. Some of the most intense scenes belong to Tom Hardy, who plays a combat pilot. Again, we donít get much context to his thoughts, but that only adds to the immediacy of his actions. Heís simply there to destroy German planes and protect his brethren. The three stories put together make quite possibly the best war film ever made.+4