DUNKIRK (2017)

Score: A

Rated with an intense PG at a length of 1 hour, 47 minutes

After sitting through one of the most powerful “Grab you by the neck and never let you go” war films — my euphoric mood from watching this intense Christopher Nolan masterpiece came to a sudden and grinding halt. As we were exiting the auditorium, just above me I heard three millennial women all complain loudly in unison: “What a waste of $20”.

Pardon the pun, but I was shell-shocked! All I could think of as a response was — “If today’s younger generation knew as much about world history as they know about smart phones, tablets and computers — it would be a very different world.”

The disaster of Dunkirk — the one that actually happened, serves to reinforces the great adage of George Santayana — “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

I was so upset by their remark that I actually went up to two strangers who had just left the theater and shared what I had heard. Their reply: “Not so shocking. If would be a much different America today if we all would study our history. Unfortunately, they just don’t have a clue!”

Not since Stanley Kubrick’s remarkable 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) has there been such a film quite like this one. Only a handful of the soldiers actually are given names. There really is no one star of this film, so it is hard to connect with just one or two characters. You connect with them all. Deeply philosophical.

There are three different stories all interwoven at the same time. One on the ground. On on the sea. And one in the air. The first unfolds over a week. The second in a single day. The third in an hour. Deeply challenging.

So you really have to pay attention. The real “stars” of this film include Nolan’s crew for cinematographer Hoyt Van Hoytema; for production designer Nathan Crowley, for editor Lee Smith and for composer Hans Zimmer. All four and Mr. Nolan are destined for Oscar nominations.

You should see DUNKIRK in IMAX with state of the art sound. The film is shot with both Imax and 65 mm cameras. Remember, this is a Christopher Nolan vision. And it is his most personal project in what has already been a remarkable career. Somehow DUNKIRK becomes an intimate epic, telling the story of what happened to 400,000 British and Allied troops trapped at the French coastal town of Dunkirk over a period from May 26 – June 4, 1940. If you love cinema and appreciate history, this is one for the film history books. If you stay for the credits you will read that much of the film was actually shot on and over the Dunkirk beach. It is my understanding that of the hundreds of small vessels that came to rescue the troops, a dozen of the real boats appear in the film!

The cast includes: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

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