The tale and its reality: A review of the movie ‘Dunkirk’

A film club in an educational institution is a must these days.  Such clubs shape our understanding of films and their appreciation as well. It also helps us sustain the film viewing culture. So when the famed director, Christopher Nolan’s recent film, ‘Dunkirk’ was released, I made a beeline to the multiplex. Thanks to the lessons that I learnt from Kristu Jayanti College film club. Normally, watching a Nolan movie in the opening week with a multiplex audience is a difficult task for a movie buff like me, but my perspective changed after Nolan admirers of Kristu Jayanti College film club convinced me to watch the film. With such a crowd there was absolutely no worry about the ambience.

What is fearsome about fear is its abstract nature, the anticipation of it is sometimes more gut wrenching than what we fear of. It lifts human senses beyond the body enslaving us to the crafter behind this suspense. This movie has already pocketed over 100 million USD across the globe and is rallying to be one of the biggest grosser of the year.  The movie is about the battle of Dunkirk that took place during the World War II which took Britain to the verge of a conditional surrender due to the heavy advancements made by the German army closer to the British Isle.


Christopher Nolan has given the space for dialogues to his composer, Hans Zimmer, all around the movie, so much so that several pivotal characters have stretched their cords only for a stanza or two. However this treatment has complemented the engagement of the movie to a large extent. From the beginning, the sound treatment creates a sense of disaster looming around the viewers. Even during scenes of intense action, the sound is dominated by subtle background scores.

The movie maintains the same treatment in its visuals also. The cinematographer, Hoyte van Hoytema, famed for his wide landscape shots has captured the despair in a poetic fashion; the aerial dogfights sequences deserve a special mention for its realistic movements. The camera pens the despairity of the characters eloquently.


Also notable is the characterisations. Nolan has crafted every persona with an agency that even he himself does not dilute. Every character regardless of their screen presence is participatory in the narration. The movie converses the reality about the people of war, their human side. It questions the romanticism of martyrdom, by portraying the fact that Martyrdom is seldom a choice and survival itself is heroic and it is the essence of existence of every single human being.


Ajith M.S

II MA, Mass Communication and Journalism

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