To my surprise, the theater near my workplace still had showings for Dunkirk in IMAX. I love Christopher Nolan movies (shoutout to Inception) and I happened to have a free Friday night, so I thought, “Why not?” I heard that watching it in IMAX is the only way to appropriately experience this film so I might as well watch it before they take it off the big screen for good.
Boy, am I glad I watched it.
In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
The concept of time is a strong theme in Dunkirk. Like Inception, this movie jumps between three different timelines and vantage points. As the film progresses, the timelines slowly converge into a single stream. The different vantage points will start making sense in helping the audience piece together the events that centered around the evacuation.
Dunkirk uses many nonverbal cues to communicate to the audience, like facial expressions, silence, and sound effects. For example, the constant ticking of a watch can be heard during certain parts of the movie. The ticking becomes more apparent and powerful during intense scenes to the point that it becomes stressful. This helps reinforce the theme of time as the soldiers have no idea how long it’ll take for them to be rescued or how much time they have left to live.
Throughout Dunkirk, we see soldiers and civilians making sacrifices for one another. Many are praised for carrying out their duties, but there are some unsung heroes that don’t receive any kind recognition. But that’s war, right? Sacrifices are expected to be made, and it’s no surprise that it’s a major theme in this film.
The film does a great job of giving me a glimpse of how the nonstop stress of war might’ve felt. During the movie, when an attack seems to have concluded, I immediately start wondering when the enemy will attack next. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to take a sip of my drink, only to be stopped by the fear of not knowing when the next impending attack will happen. Can’t spill the drink on myself because of a surprise bomb attack, ya know?
All in all, Dunkirk lived up to the hype. I enjoyed the use of subtle communication to help amplify the storytelling experience. The IMAX experience was pricey, but I would say it was worth it for the added effects that the bigger screen brought.
If you’re reading this and Dunkirk is still in theaters, I highly encourage you to watch it before it’s too late!