Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk essentially unveils the nuances of hope, in its various hues, in the direst circumstances of the Second World War, without romanticising it. By bringing out the best and worst of people as they struggle to survive, Nolan has managed to produce a war-movie with such finesse that it evokes a sense of being more than a war film.
Even as your seat vibrates as the deafening grenades hit the sea, you cannot help but be a part of this violent war as a mute spectator. The stories of British and French soldiers marooned on a French sea town awaiting their impending doom by the enemy is bleak enough, but Dunkirk does not let you wallow in its depression. Death, obviously inevitable, is often seen happening in the movie in a flash, as if to null the grief it would evoke. In one of the scenes, as they lay trapped in a ship, one of the distraught soldiers would say that survival is shit, but in the end, rejoices as he approaches home. Dunkirk is not a story of valorised martyrdoms or exalted heroes; on the other hand, it recounts war, its various stakeholders and the subtleties of the soldiers’ relationships with one another, as well as the nation.
It goes without saying that the aesthetics of the movie is unmatched with any of its contemporaries. The breathtaking visuals- under the water and over it- coupled with Hans Zimmer’s astounding background score gives one the impression of having felt the depth of the war to the fullest.
The fire sets the sea ablaze; the fighter places serve and swoosh in mid-air and soldiers line along the coast of the beach as you watch this from above. As they watch such scenes, the spectator feels powerful and powerless, at the same time. Perhaps this was the miracle that the soldiers, as well the spectators were waiting for.