Kenneth Branagh, playing Commander Bolton, the senior naval officer who has had up till now little to do in his naval overcoat and fetching roll-neck sweater, except affect an air of gravitas.


Thanks for this review, Jonathan. There's been something about the marketing of Nolan's Dunkirk that's been bothering me...and I hadn't been able to quite put my finger on it.

"Uplifiting"--that's the word I keep hearing in the commercials/previews for the film.

Yes, I know about "Dunkirk Spirit"...and yes, the fact that it was far more successful than it had any right to be gives this disaster an astonishingly positive result--but nothing in my envisioning of the Battle of Dunkirk seemed like it should be considered to be "uplifting."

And, I agree, the Dunkirk scenes in Atonement were more inline with what my mind imagines it was like...

Why do men love war and movies about war? It's like their second favorite thing after porn.
borges is not cooly detached from his prose.
i don't give a shit about nolan.
Enjoyed the review, Mr. Raban. Thank you.

I've never been to an IMAX movie. I came close once, on a date one Saturday afternoon. I had wanted to see the Rolling Stone IMAX feature which had already been playing at the Pacific Science Center forever, but when we arrived, it has been replaced by the nature documentary, Beavers, which we decided to eschew - not the same vibe, you see. I have been told that the effects one experiences in IMAX is highly dependent of where in the theater one chooses to sit. The prime location is center, midway to three-quarters back. I will admit that I may be wrong, but even though nature documentaries and special-effects movies and live performances benefit from the technology, as far as cinema is concerned, to me it carries the taint of gimmick.

Furthermore, you guys in Seattle are lucky in the sense that the IMAX theater is fairly accessible. Now I live in Los Angeles, and I have two choices. One is at Universal Studios. In summer (or anytime, really). During tourist season. You'd have to love, love, love people in huge quantities. It's pretty inconvenient to just go see a movie there. Another choice is Grauman's (yeah, sorry, I know it's now the TCL Chinese, but it'll always be Grauman's to me). They redecorated a few years ago and converted it into a triplex. One of the theaters was made into an IMAX venue. Not as inconvenient, but still in the heart of Touristown. So I think I may once again forego the IMAX experience in favor of good, old-fashioned 70mm at LA Live where in one of the theaters it will be playing in, it will be set-up for 4DX. Not sure I want to go that route either. I mean, The Dark Knight was superb in movie regular as opposed to movie deluxe.

I had great hopes for this film. I admire much of Nolan's work, and the Battle of Dunkirk sounded like a perfect fit. I never received any of the probably necessary at the time propaganda about heroic Dunkirk. I always heard it was a nightmarish failure for the Allied forces - their last stand - as the Nazi forces were able to sweep them off the continent. And it hasn't been dramatized much at all - Atonement being an excellent exception. There was another British film made in 1958 starring John Mills and Richard Attenborough and directed by Leslie Norman which I haven't seen in a thousand years. As I recall, there wasn't much self-analysis in that film. It wouldn't have been allowed.

I haven't been to the movies in a while. Tomorrow night's early show is $16.75-$18.50 for plain wrap. The IMAX version is $21.50, and the 4DX version which gives you blowing wind and vibrating seats, etc. is $25.00. Wow.
Uh, I think this is a Movie. Hollywood and all that. Unless the OP knows something that I don't. Maybe Dunkirk is a Documentary? And that's why he's saying "That Never happened..." etc.

I'm glad he told me that this "Film"? is not a accurate portrayal of what happened.

Say What? IT's NOT A TRUE STORY OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? That Damned Hollywood! They fooled me again.
well, thanks to this review, I now know the movie really failed in its effort to be a documentary.
Thanks for reminding me about Joe Wright's "Atonement." At "Dunkirk" tonight, I saw a preview for Wright's upcoming movie, set in exactly the same time frame as Dunkirk, just on the other side of the English Channel: "Darkest Hours," starring Gary Oldman as Churchill.

Hopefully, it will be as good as "Dunkirk" is, and Wright and Nolan can continue this worthy rivalry through the Oscars.
Good Lord, you're THAT Jonathan Raban, he of Waxworks,,,He of The National Book Critics Circle Award, The Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Award, The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, He of Badland: An American Romance,,,Your art and this art are different but both art. You are a great writer, and this great film isn't literary as much as it is Hollywood Hokum of the highest order,,,,thank you for your thoughts, Sir. And thank you for the turning pages...
Cillian Murphy's traumatized soldier huddles on the exterior deck of the yacht, not on the bridge (not "cockpit"); his refusal to remain within the confines of the ship refers to his having been trapped belowdecks when his transport ship was torpedoed. Branagh's Bolton states he can see "home," not "hope" when the flotilla of small ships arrive; this refers to Bolton's earlier statement that the Brits can almost see their island home from the beaches of Dunkirk.

If you get the basic facts wrong, the movie will indeed fail to deliver for you. That's hardly the fault of Nolan, Branagh, Murphy, Harry Styles, or anyone else involved in the making of the film.

Saw it, Hollywood Hokum of the Highest Order, a "War Movie" of spectacular technical brilliance. The aerial scenes are staggering. The story, could have been right out of 1940,,,,oh wait, it is,,,,A brilliantly made war movie with plenty of explosions, rat a tat tats, dog fights and gushing nobility and stalwart steadfastness, etc,,,,History is written by those who win, and this is an astoundingly well made piece of "Hollywood" Hoorah!

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