Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
Christopher Nolan has his own fan club, but also has his own hate club as well. The polarizing directing isn’t going to be as divisive as say, Darren Aronofsky, but he does things a certain way that either endears the man to you, or makes you want to boycott his films (there seems to be very little middle ground). His Batman movies have become a thing of legend, and I tend to REALLY enjoy most of his films (although I may grumble and whine a bit about his Batman films being better crime movies than they are actual Batman related movies, but I digress), except for a select few. Nolan is one of the rare few that pretty much EXCLUSIVELY shoots his movies on film ONLY (Interstellar being one of the rare few to buck that trend) and this gives his movies a very organic and lifelike appearance. A move that has really endeared me to his visual style, even if I don’t always enjoy a movie of his to the fullest.
Dunkirk is one of the only war film made by the man and it garnered HUGE critical acclaim at the box office for its nontraditional look at one of the most tragic events in World War history. I ignored as much of the clamor for the film as I could as I wasn’t able to view it theatrically, and even went so far as to ignore the trailer that Warner sent to me for the film’s home video press release so that I could go in as blind as possible, which made the whole experience just a little bit better (in my humble opinion). It’s a mixture of traditional storytelling, with an overarching story that is more about seeing what happened that fateful week through the eyes of three different (and distinct) perspectives. Much like viewing a painting through the eyes of different people, the film adapts and changes to those specific view points, coalescing into a more cohesive point of view as they all come together on the beaches of Dunkirk at the end of the film.
It’s almost hard to give a synopsis of the plot, as there really isn’t a traditional three act arc to go through. What I can tell you is that the characters are inconsequential, at least from a narrative perspective. Sure we have Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branaugh and Mark Rylance (Mark gets the brunt of the dialog for a single character), but there faces are almost lost midst a sea of unknown actors, and their lack of any real focus allows you to stand far back and watch the pieces being moved across the chessboard instead of being distracted by the “name brand” actors on screen. There is dialog, and it moves the plot along just a little, but mainly it is there to show the heart and soul of these brave men and women on the beaches and in the sea as they desperately try to survive.
Each aspect of the movie is given an intensity and fire that is intoxicating and filling to the core. The first involves 2 grunt soldiers who will do whatever it takes to get off the beaches, even if it involves stealing, lying, and sneaking their way onto a boat to get off the death trap. The second involves a group of sea rescues as we follow a civilian boat helmed by Mark Rylance’s character (and his two sons) as they strive to pick up the drowning and marooned sailors that are downed out in the ocean. The third comes from the point of view of the air force pilots who are patrolling the air space in an effort to shoot down the Nazi planes who are bombarding their forces while they wait for the RAF to come to their aide.
There are no real IMPORTANT characters, at least in the way we normally think about important characters on screen, but the movie steps back from the chaos and allows us a birds eye view of the spectacle. Letting us see the characters being moved around like chess pieces and watching each of the three perspectives comes closer and closer together. While I loved the nontraditional narrative structure that Nolan employed here, I do admit that I can see how this film couldn’t have gone on for much longer than the 1 hour and 46 minute run time that it did. That sort of storytelling has its limits, and the audience’s patience would have been stretched a bit too far, and all the goodwill that the movie has striven to make palatable would have dissipated. Even then, the film has garnered some critical attention for being “boring” to a select few people, and I can actually understand why. Those who don’t appreciate this method of telling a visual story without any real main characters may find the experience just a bit frustrating. But given the proper outlook, I feel most people will enjoy the visual narrative.
Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language
- Creation: Revisiting the Miracle
- Creation: Dunkerque
- Creation: Expanding the Frame
- Creation: The In-Camera Approach
- Land: Rebuilding the Mole
- Land: The Army On the Beach
- Land: Uniform Approach
- Air: Taking to the Air
- Air: Inside the Cockpit
- Sea: Assembling the Naval Fleet
- Sea: Launching the Moonstone
- Sea: Taking to the Sea
- Sea: Sinking the Ships
- Sea: The Little Ships
- Conclusion: Turning Up the Tension
- Conclusion: The Dunkirk Spirit
Dunkirk is a fascinating film that foregoes a traditional narrative for a much more visual approach to storytelling. I’m not sure how it will hold up over time, but as a first time view I was completely enthralled with the approach (even as I had to agree that the non traditional storytelling did seem a bit odd at times (which may explain the 1 hour and 46 minutes run time instead of Nolan’s typical near 2.5 hours for his films) but overall I really enjoyed the film. The 4K UHD and the Blu-ray alike are destined to be demo films for years to come, as they both exhibit some of the finest attention to nuanced details in both the audio and video departments to date (even though some may be a bit disappointed at Nolan’s use of 5.1 in a 7.1 and above norm. Well worth picking up if you’re a fan of dramas and war films in the slightest, and a must own for any self respecting home theater enthusiast. Would I get the 4K UHD over the Blu-ray even though the Blu-ray is so amazing? Yes, yes I would, this is a 5 star transfer no matter how good 1080p is, and is well worth the extra dollar or so to get the absolute best.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan, Fionn Whitehead
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1/1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, German DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish (Latin AND Castilian), Portuguese DD 5.1, and English DVS 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Own Dunkirk on 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD on December 19, or Own It Early on Digital HD on December 12!
Recommendation: Great Watch