5 Reasons Why Dunkirk Is Nolan's Best Film Yet

5 Reasons Why Dunkirk Is Nolan's Best Film Yet

Nolan has achieved something great by taking a departure from super heroes and science fiction

Christopher Nolan has an interesting resume when it comes to his film making. His first big films, "Memento" and "Insomnia", were dark psychological thrillers. Then Nolan was thrust upon one of the most iconic and well known characters across the globe, Batman. But Nolan did the impossible and created a new kind of super hero movie, one that was realistic, expertly crafted, and changed the landscape of super hero movies forever. "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight", and "Dark Knight Rises" is a super hero trilogy that may never be dethroned. In between those films we were graced with the complex intrigue of "The Prestige", a film about 2 magicians constantly trying to one-up each other to a lethal degree, and "Inception", a science fiction mind-bending heist movie about planting ideas into people's minds. After all of this Nolan was ready to tackle space in his space epic "Interstellar", where Matthew McConaughey tries to find us a new home. The film's plot and science is divided between viewers but it's beauty is not debated. Many wondered what would come next from Nolan, very few could've imagined it being a World War 2 film.

Here are 5 reasons "Dunkirk" is Nolan's best work yet.

1. The Sound

I should preface this by saying I saw the movie on opening night in a laser IMAX theater, so not quite 70mm, but pretty close to the best way possible to see this movie. Basically it was very big and very loud, and this movie is already very, very loud. But its sound is one reason why "Dunkirk" succeeds so well, and will be the front runner for best sound mixing come award season. From the subtle constant ticking of a stopwatch happening during almost the entire movie emphasizing that time is running out, to the loud hissing of bombs landing overhead, to the thunderous vibrations of torpedoes and bullets ripping boats to shreds. The entire time you are on edge and the sound is the reason why. You're terrified for when the next bullet is coming, when the next bomb will drop, just from the shear volume of it all. It really puts you right alongside the soldiers on screen. So, well done.

2. The Story Is Simple

As opposed to "The Prestige", "Inception", and "Interstellar", the story here is pretty simple. There's no mind-bending plot twists at the end or hard science to wrap your mind around. The story follows three different perspectives: a group of soldiers just trying to survive and make it back home, a small boat run by an Englishman, his son, and his friend as they journey to Dunkirk to save whoever they can, and a British pilot trying to fend off German bombers and planes for as long as his gas tank will let him. The movie jumps periodically between the three, who are all on separate timelines until they all eventually sync up at the end of the movie. It's an easy story to get behind, and although you may know the eventual outcome of the events at Dunkirk, the endings for our characters are never assured until the final minutes. This is not a dialogue heavy movie, everything is said through what happens on the screen.

3. The Un-relentless Tension

In any war movie there are bullets and explosions and people die, but aside from some select films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Jarhead", and "The Hurt Locker", you're never really scared for your protagonists. If they do die, it's in some epic and heroic way where they sacrifice themselves for everyone else by gunning down 50 enemies or blowing up a tank or something that would never actually happen. A lot of war movies just have no stakes, no real consequences, it's just watching America blow shit up and win. Dunkirk could not be any different. Aside from the handful of enemy planes, you never actually see an enemy soldier until literally the final seconds of the movie, and even then they are blurred out. This entire movie is about running away, not fighting. It's about just trying to survive and get off of a beach. No one is ever safe, and our characters face death so many times it is un-relentless, you can never just sit back because you never know what is going to happen next, when the next bomb will fall. It keeps you focused on the screen, and it kept the theater quiet the entire movie. It was quite the experience, and one that I'll never forget.

4. The Cast

Nolan is known to use the same set of actors for many of his movies, including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, who are seemingly in every movie he makes. Others include Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Joseph Gordon Levitt. He likes to use certain actors multiple times, but aside from Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, most of the cast here is brand new, including Harry Styles who actually performs very well in this film as a young soldier. Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead, and Aneurin Bernard are especially memorable, even though we really only know like 3 characters names in the entire movie. It was a nice change of pace for Nolan to star some lesser known actors (also willing to throw Harry Styles a bone for this incredibly serious and high stakes movie), as opposed to his star powered packed movies like "Inception", "Interstellar", and "The Prestige".

5. It's Totally Different Than All His Other Films

I kind of touched on this before, but "Dunkirk" is truly a step away from all his other movies. Nolan has been known for his complex storytelling mixed with action and mind-bending twists, wrapped in Super Hero logic or science fiction. But this film is completely separate from all of that. It is both a historical movie about a real life event as well as a tense high-octane thriller about a group of boys just trying to survive. Instead of wrapping itself in time travel or invading dreams or magic, it is beautifully simplistic. Is one better than the other? It's hard to say. I would still say films like "Inception" and "Interstellar" may be more entertaining from a story perspective, but "Dunkirk" is so different it's hard to compare it to his other films. It's almost like the perfect blend of a summer blockbuster with the heart and soul of a quiet indie film. It's simplicity yet unending barrage of "Dunkirk" sing, and you would be robbing yourself of a truly unique experience if you wait until this movie is released on DVD to see it. Please see this movie on the biggest, loudest screen possible.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube.com

Popular Right Now

Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

Related Content

Facebook Comments