One day, many years from now, when I am old and grey, I will sit my grandchildren upon my lap and tell them how I was one of the first to see Dunkirk. Not only to see it, but to see it as director Christopher Nolan intended: from a 70mm film reel on a massive IMAX screen.
It’s impossible to deny that Dunkirk is a landmark of modern cinema. From the first frame, you are transported to 1940, and then for the following hundred minutes you yearn to escape Nolan’s depiction of Operation Dynamo. It is a film about survival, and though at times the action can be hard to watch, it is important to see the war through Nolan’s lens. He doesn’t glorify war nor does he vilify it. The war is simply there to be experienced. As we pass across the channel, through the narratives of Mark Rylance’s dutiful civilian, Kenneth Branagh’s stoic commander or Tom Hardy’s spitfire pilot, we are confronted by war as a storm, with the eye of the hurricane back at home. It is tantalisingly out of reach from the beaches of Dunkirk.
If there were any doubts beforehand, Dunkirk confirms that no one can work plot threads like Nolan. There are revelations here that are jaw-dropping, but in the right way. Unsurprisingly, the cinematography and sound cannot be faulted, and neither can the acting – the young cast blend with the older actors effortlessly. Mark Rylance is the standout, delivering a beautifully nuanced performance, though Tom Glynn-Carney and Jack Lowden are also exceptional.
Dunkirk is an incredible cinematic marvel. It’s the opening of Saving Private Ryan, stretched to nearly two hours. I can’t help but feel sorry for every other filmmaker this year; Dunkirk puts them to shame. It really is that good, and I pity anyone who doesn’t manage to see it on the biggest screen possible.