Will Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ be just another glorified World War movie?

Published: December 16, 2016

Faux-clever and quasi-mysterious to some, while pseudo-intellectual and cine-snob to others; irrespective of the amount of criticism levelled at Christopher Nolan over the years, we can all agree that The Dark Knight-famed filmmaker is one the most famous people alive.

Whenever probed for a favourite director, most of the film students I teach would invariably come up with Nolan. Now whether that is a real reflection of his work or simply a by-product of his popularity is up for debate, but what we cannot deny is the cine-cult status that Nolan enjoys. So whether you like it or not, an early peek into his latest project is a big deal.

The first full-length trailer of Christopher Nolan’s historical drama Dunkirk has just dropped and boy is it, ermm … like every other war flick that we have seen over the years.

Nolan is a guy who is willing to tell bold stories on a huge canvas, and Dunkirk is no different, with a premise based on one of World War II’s most harrowing military engagements.

Dunkirk is a recollection of the famous 1940 Operation Dynamo, in which a fleet of British vessels, mainly manned by volunteers, try to rescue 400,000 stranded Allied troops from a French beach.

The first thing that immediately jumps at you after the first viewing of the trailer is how Nolan is selling this as a true ensemble. The stellar cast pits former collaborators Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy against powerhouse performers Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. But despite the box office smashing presence of all the aforementioned talents, its former One Direction member Harry Styles whom we observe rather closely during the two minute clip.

Much to the chagrin of thousands of girls globally, the teenage heartthrob is wretchedly stuffed into the back of a van with his fellow soldiers like cattle in one shot. And if that wasn’t enough to collectively break female hearts world over, he is then drowned underwater in signature Nolan style.

Following a run of comic book adaptations and sci-fi mind-benders, the British filmmaker is back to directing a ‘realistic’ narrative. But even with a clear-cut concept – when compared to his recent work – the trailer is not without Nolan’s eye for spectacular visuals. Shot in dull tones, the gritty cinematography focuses on the bleak, eerie landscape of the French coastline in the 40s, appropriately adding this extra layer of tension, to an already stressful dramatic proceeding.

Christopher Nolan manages to display undeniable craftsmanship as a filmmaker during the two minute trailer, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s simply a case of ‘been there, done that’. His true test now lies in coming up with a final product that can stand its own amongst genre greats like Saving Private RyanThin Red LineApocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket.

With a release date of mid-July, guess we won’t have to wait long to find that out.

Which is your favourite Christopher Nolan movie?

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Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

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