So I just saw Dunkirk last weekend and while it is a great film fulling earning its 93% rating on RottenTomatoes, it also made me rather sad.
I felt this way because the type of film making that Christopher Nolan does seems to be almost alone these days. The film is almost devoid of CGI or over-the-top action sequences. Nothing happens in it that would be shocking to happen in real life. The characters aren't central to the story, but none of them act or seem unrealistic either).
Indeed, the only thing that's unrealistic about it is the lack of gore. But that has become a war movie trope since Saving Private Ryan. And don't get me wrong, Saving Private Ryan was a great film (other than the trite-Deus Ex Machina ending). But then everyone copied Spielberg and went with the "gritty, realistic war movie."
Great film makers zig when everyone else zags, so it's not surprising Nolan went a different way. Instead of over-the-top gore, there was an extreme tension. Throughout the entire film (until an exhausted character falls asleep near the end) there is a ticking clock-like sound. It is always embedded into the music, which makes for one long song that changes often, but always with that ticking sound. This might seem like it would become annoying, but it doesn't. It just highlights the race against time the British were under and heightens the tension all the more.
The aviation scenes are amazing and the highlight of the film. They are extremely intimate and the small details such as the rattling sounds in the cockpit of an airplane as it banks makes one fear exhaling as it might cause the plane to spin out of control.
And the scenery is amazing, especially given it's real. One scene in particular, where a ship is sunk is something else. You see it from the air and can make out people jumping in the water. And you can tell it's not CGI. Hell, it's not even a model. Our minds can tell that even the best CGI isn't real. With the advancements in technology, it's too bad so many film makers settle for CGI when Nolan proves how much more breathtaking it is to use practical effects. As well as how much tension can be added by the small details, such as background sounds you would expect to hear in a cockpit of a 1940 fighter plane, but not necessarily in a movie about them.
In all, it was great movie, but it made me feel a bit nostalgic for the days before CGI. Or perhaps I just wish there were more film makers out there of Nolan's quality. I'm getting a little sick of endless comic book movies, remakes, reboots, reimaginings and the like.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
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