A BLAST OF CRAFT AND CHAOS – CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S DUNKIRK

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s cinema is emotional and spectacular. He is one of the finest craftsmen of visual storytelling we have ever seen. Dunkirk is no exception. It plays by these rules. It punctures the surface of the screen and soaks the audience in action. We drown amongst soldiers whose ship has just been torpedoed. We crouch amongst the thousands bombed along the shoreline. We run, we swim, and desperately bid for an escape. Our heart pulses at the speed of another infamous Hans Zimmer score. It’s complete immersion.

The film opens with a shot of soldiers walking through Dunkirk. It is eerily quiet. There is a sense of something familiar, the British uniforms and the colourfully decorated rows of snug french housing, leaves blowing over doorsteps. But the faces of these men do not reflect the habitat; they are deeply scarred emotionally and physically. The closer we get to them, the closer a presence of danger is felt. And then there is FIRE. It ricochets like crazy and within a matter of seconds, only a single man is left standing. This is the young-blooded hero played by Fionn Whitehead. He plays an innocent-looking solider, handsome, wholehearted, but whose world is defined by survival of the fittest, which includes the occasional interpersonal conflict with toxic men hellbent on staying alive, as well as the dodging of shells and masses of shipwrecked steel. The entire world is a vision of hell landing on earth. It reminds us that the second world war is never to be forgotten.

After all is shot and edited, it is purely a cinematic interpretation of events. There’s no intricate plot for the clever-minded historian to applaud. It is all action at Dunkirk. It has to be. There’s no time left for strategising or playing games. You either cross the channel or you die. A crisis that some may feel is ashamedly prescient of today. But Nolan never gives you space to think or shed a tear. Every sequence is impeccably timed and the sound so commanding that it creates an almost 4D viewing experience. He catches every nerve ending and leaves us drunk at the closing.

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QUOTES FROM MAKING CINEMA

“Anybody who comes to the cinema is bringing their whole sexual history, their literary history, their movie literacy, their culture, their language, their religion, whatever they’ve got. I can’t possibly manipulate all of that, nor do I want to.” – David Cronenberg

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it” – Roger Ebert

“All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl” – Jean Luc Goddard

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out” – Alfred Hitchcock

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney

“People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” – Steven Spielberg

“A Hunch is Creativity Trying to Tell You Something.” – Frank Capra

“Photography is Truth. The Cinema is Truth Twenty-four Times Per Second.” – Jean-Luc Godard

“I Am Certain There is Too Much Certainty in the World.” – Michael Crichton

“The Only Safe Thing is to Take a Chance.” – Mike Nichols

“Why Pay a Dollar for a Bookmark? Why Not Use the Dollar for a Bookmark?” – Steven Spielberg

“We tend to do period stuff because it helps make it one step removed from boring everyday reality.” – Ethan Coen

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso

“I have always preferred the reflection of the life to life itself.” – Francois Truffaut

“Surrealism had taught me that reason comes after creation, and creation is a true deflagration when confronted, not with a solution, but an obstacle.” – Georges Franju

“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.” – Ridley Scott

“I cannot just make a film and walk away from it. I need that creative intimacy, and quite frankly, the control to execute my visions, on all my projects.” – Michael Mann

“I’ll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will.” – Paul Thomas Anderson

“I think that the Internet is going to effect the most profound change on the entertainment industries combined. And we’re all gonna be tuning into the most popular Internet show in the world, which will be coming from some place in Des Moines. We’re all gonna lose our jobs. We’re all gonna be on the Internet trying to find an audience.” – Steven Spielberg

“To me, watching a movie is like going to an amusement park. My worst fear is making a film that people don’t think is a good ride.” – Darren Aronofsky

“There’s a certain truth that you do end up making the same film again and again so if you vary the genre you have a chance of breaking that cycle.” – Danny Boyle

“I think audiences get too comfortable and familiar in today’s movies. They believe everything they’re hearing and seeing. I like to shake that up.” – Christopher Nolan

“The audience seems hazy to me, shrouded in a veil through which I can’t see.” – Park Chan-Wook

“I don’t know how much movies should entertain. To me I’m always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about JAWS is that I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again.” – David Fincher

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” – Martin Scorsese

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick

“I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.” – Quentin Tarantino

“I don’t think about technique. The ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you’re dead.” – David Lynch