Dunkirk: Movie Review
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Dunkirk exceeds expectations. The new World War II movie, from director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar), captures the stirring rescue of British troops trapped on the beaches of France, cataloguing this incredible part of history on film for all time.
With their backs against the English Channel, 400,000 young men face almost certain death. By sea, too few naval ships are arriving. By land, lads line the unprotected beach, waiting for deliverance. By air, British Spitfires engage the Luftwaffe as they rain bombs and machine gunfire on the exposed troops below.
The British government's evacuation plan only accounted for getting 30,000 soldiers out of Dunkirk. That was the best-case scenario. Rescuing more seemed nearly impossible. It would take a miracle. In their hour of great need, King George called on his subjects to pray for such a miracle. Though this historical moment isn't included in Nolan's inspired-by film (his storyline focuses more on the action at Dunkirk than back in England), knowing the nation called out to God makes the film all the more affecting for the believer. For not just 30,000, but more than 300,000 sons returned home.
Nolan's film begins with an acknowledgement of the need for supernatural intervention. Setting up the story, text appears on screen explaining the dilemma at Dunkirk. In bold white, it states the 400,000 were:
Hoping for deliverance.
For a miracle.
Film composer Hans Zimmer's electrifying score, the film's poignant performances (from Oscar-nominated actors Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and Oscar winner Mark Rylance and more), and stunning visuals create a thrilling cinematic experience for moviegoers. It has an intensity that's hard to shake. It builds and builds and keeps building throughout the intricately woven storyline. The music and plot points tick the clock down as the Germans get ever closer to annihilating the Allied forces.
In war, retreat is not victory. But for the brave souls surrounded at Dunkirk, survival was a triumph. Every indication pointed to complete devastation. Yet, throughout the harrowing ordeal, miracles occurred. Life emerged from certain death – as if someone was at work, orchestrating this massive, improbable rescue mission.
Rated PG-13 for "intense war experience and some language", Dunkirk is not suitable viewing for younger audiences. The very nature of the film warrants caution. It's not gory, but young men die on screen – sometimes in heartbreaking ways. And foul language is used, including both profanities and obscenities.
With each scene, the tension escalates for these boys and for moviegoers. If you're accustomed to combat movies and can abide the language, Nolan's film is one worth seeing. Afterwards, take a moment to remember the fallen and to reflect on how hope brings life. For in the end, their strength and determination, and God-sized miracles led them safely home.
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. – Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940
Winston would be proud.
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