Everything that raises passions, in general, also raises hatred. They are two correlative reactions, parallel in space and time, and that in times of technological evolution become more visible than ever. One of the main objects of study of this phenomenon is Christopher Nolan. For many, an unparalleled filmmaker, masterpiece maker and probably the best director of his generation. For others, a vulgar filmmaker who, through gimmicky tricks, hides an alarming lack of narrative creation. This year it was his turn to come to the fore, after his gigantic space odyssey released three years ago that goes by the name of ‘Interstellar’. But this year, he does it differently. It is presented in a more accessible genre, with a story close to empathy. An adaptation of a historical miracle called ‘Dunkerque‘.
The film is an epic of the survival of a generation thanks to the one that preceded them. Not the best nolan, but it is the most intimate, and it is not a war film, but a major dramatic exercise, impregnated with frenetic tension. Nolan corners everyone in the movie theater on a boat, in the water, or in the air.
The British director forces the viewer to fear and despair on the beach or on the jetty, to shoot down and dodge fighters with Tom Hardy, to endure with stoicism and patience a miracle from home with the professionalism of Kenneth Branagh and to boost the courage of Mark Rylance. All structured in three spaces and times, so that everything is visible, so that the quinary that an entire army passed through becomes unforgettable, so that it is recorded that there was no corner on that beach where there was no suffering.
‘Dunkerque‘is about human incapacity, about war as a brutal and brutal struggle where winning is getting out alive, is getting home. But it also means the redemption of a people who see their offspring pay the price for their violence. The third generation of England cleanses its soul with a rescue that Nolan paints with a patriotism that is not self-centered, but rather proud.
The soundtrack, again, as usual when it comes to Christopher Nolan, is provided by Hans Zimmer, who again is fantastic. Maybe your more refined, more ornamental work. Here it doesn’t sound so colossal, but its “tick tack” infuses the scene with anguish and vertigo. Zimmer understands that scenes are not experienced the same without an engaging musical environment, and he helps Nolan build ‘Dunkirk’ as an experience, end and goal in the life of the English filmmaker.
‘Interstellar’, ‘The Dark Knight’, or even ‘Inception’, may be better films than this ‘Dunkirk’, but they will never be more intimate or so close. This film should be the definitive proof that Nolan, apart from narrating with an impressive mastery of time, knows how to shoot action. He is not Mel Gibson, but he has refined and improved his style, without any doubt. His general shots are brutal, given that his greatest achievement is connecting the viewer with suffering, but also not forgetting where it emerges from.
He even knows how to get oil out of a cast full of rookies (ojito a Fionn Whitehead). Rylance brings courage full of measure, Hardy once again gives away golden minutes in voice and look, and Murphy (whose role may well be a sequel to his Thommy Shelby in ‘Peaky Blinders’) embroiders fear and trauma. Very much in favor of Harry Styles, authentic, not shy, with ease. If I wanted to, I could do better roles.
‘Dunkirk’ is the umpteenth contradiction for Nolan’s audience, not because it is bad, but because again it will raise passions, and consequently hatred. Proof that for Nolan time is money, it is the cement with which he unites and strengthens the development of a story. Perhaps that his grandfather died on that beach imprints his participation in the project with sensitivity, and his statements about that cinema must be seen on the big screen to be experienced as the art that it is (sorry, Netflix) may be reflected in the 106 minutes of footage that lasts’Dunkerque‘. Now it is the turn of the cinema, the critics themselves and the academics especially, to remove him from the ostracism to which he was sent almost 10 years ago for reasons that are unknown. Because Nolan complied when he was not asked, but now that he is asked, he continues to do so.