Dunkirk

Dir: Christopher Nolan, with Fionn Whitehead and Mark Rylance

In retrospect, I can pick holes in this film, but while I was actually sitting in the cinema I was totally immersed in it. (More than I could bear at times: the drowning scenes were unwatchable.) The film covers three aspects of the retreat – land, sea and air – played out, but dovetailing, over varying time periods. The action is full-on, and the long waits (for the tide, for rescue) are suspenseful, but it lacks a wider narrative setting (unlike the impressive 1958 film of the same name). It shows both stoic heroism and desperate cunning to queue-jump.

Goodness knows how plausible it is (really, how long can you pilot a Spitfire without fuel?), and I found the splicing of the scenes too rapid at times. The music was sometimes too obvious and Nimrod-lite, and – surprisingly, as all the characters are British – I sometimes found it difficult to make out what they were saying. However, it’s impossible to ignore or underplay the courage of those civilians who sailed to Dunkirk to rescue the forces, or the horror of being target practice on the beach, and this film covered both those angles very effectively.

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