Tag Archives: War movie

Film Review: Dunkirk (2017)

400,000 Men Couldn’t Get Home, So Home Came For Them

The message from hell descending from the clouds. The sea waves escorting back the dead bodies. The civilian boats rescuing the freezing fate-less soldiers. Casualties outnumbering the survivors. Hark! the bombers are approaching and releasing your death certificates. Realize! the fuel is getting low! So decide either you drop your plane to the sea or shoot your rival pilot.

There is panic everywhere, there is sonic everywhere. There is no amount of food, there is no hope for good. More than 300 thousand soldiers are trapped on the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk in an uncanny weather. France has fallen to the Germans and their troops are to reach the site anytime. But the Commander is hoping that they all will be back – Home.

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan‘s latest project, a war film whose storyline and characters are fictional in nature but relies on the rich historical accuracy based on the historic evacuation of the Allied forces during World War II. Nolan has touched the new dimensions of the filmmaking of war films. For ages, the filmmakers have strived in convincing the audience by making ‘lengthy’ war films but Nolan’s warfare drama runs for only 106 minutes and proves that it is just a matter of speaking the story in the most formidable manner. Nolan proves that to make a successful war film, a coherent presentation plays a major part, not the length of the script.



“I’d rather fight waves than dive-bombers.”

The story is divided into three divergent segments of land, water, and air. There is a stupendous balance in all the three segments with the land story definitely being more of a blood boiler. Thousands of the soldiers standing, sitting, lying in the queue on the sands of the beach await their fate and hope for deliverance. When I say lying on the beach, few are the dead bodies.

War films are acutely loud and noisy. But here there is no massive bullet-firing in the whole film, no earth-shattering blasts or powerful destructions. The grip of the plot is kept at loose ends. Dunkirk’s script is build on intensity. More than killing, the film is about saving the lives and rendering a valuable service for the people stuck in the battle.

Yes, the nature of this war-subject is saving more than killing but like I wrote above that it is the intensity, the incredible screenplay of bringing things into either an argument or a question mark. The sequences and consequences of numerous scenes drop the emotions displaying the significance and tragic life conclusions like a boatman losing his son, a soldier dropping his helmet and walking towards the sea waves, a pilot watching his plane burnt etc.

“He’s shell-shocked, George. He’s not himself. He might never be himself again.”

Angel of death knocks the door everywhere and it is not a matter of bombs but other critical things like an oiled human body trying to wash himself in haste before it catches the fire on the water or a young soldier making an unsuccessful attempt to catch the ladder of the boat before fainting into the water.

Another impressive factor of the film is the target age-group of the troops portrayal. Mostly in the film are extremely young men. The impact is hard but I like the way the young skins are put to test in the biggest scare of their lives. There were two such scenes shot on the boys giving a fascinating look on the labor and patience during the war times. One was when the two young soldiers witness a helpless gashed soldier on the stretcher. Both heed each other’s possible signal and prepare to lift the heavy stretcher miles towards the boat running and staring the other dead bodies on the beach. The other scene is when the German troops shot at the trawler for target practice where the young soldiers are hiding and no one has the courage of volunteering to release from the boat.

The film is blessed with an ensemble cast whose characters are equally divided in all the three segments. The beauty of the screenplay is that there is no main character. All the characters support each other in their segment i.e., the character of the boatman, Mr Dawson, played by Mark Rylance is indeed the lead character on the sea but his sons, Peter and George, have decent onscreen appearance subjected towards the gallantry. Rylance piloted his character boat every day and listened to the audio recordings at the Imperial War Museum. Cillian Murphy plays the rescued soldier who suffers the psychological impact of the war. Being short in the role, his mental acting performance was exceptional. To improve his character, Murphy read about the psychological trauma the soldier endured.

“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”

Tom Hardy is the RAF pilot playing the major role flying in the clouds but his fellow RAF pilot, Collins played by Jack Lowden, is not to be considered underrated. On land, Kenneth Branagh is the commander, loosely based on Admiral William Tennant, but also attached to him is James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant. But the weight of the characters is equal keeping in mind that the former’s character is verbal as compared to the latter’s character being physical.

Among the young soldiers, the character of Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead was impressive than Alex played by Harry Styles. In fact, Fionn’s performance was indeed the most impressive one who surely had the most minutes throughout the film. Fionn’s character Tommy was named after the slang term Tommy which was commonly used for the ordinary British soldiers. When Nolan auditioned Harry Styles, he was not acquainted with his immense popularity.

 Audience pointed Hardy’s contribution to the film as best but he was just a pilot flying the plane in the whole film. It was actually not Hardy’s performance but the character to be counted as the most valuable one.

“How hard is it to find a dead Englishman on Dunkirk beach, for God’s sake?”

Musical department? Hans Zimmer to Nolan is what John Williams to Spielberg. Easily the most powerful director-musician combo after the latter. And here Zimmer has gifted the audience with just another masterpiece in music. The sound of the watch ticking (often played at the start of the trailer) was actually Nolan’s own pocket watch synthesized by Zimmer. Also to his credit is including Edward Elgar‘s most famous variation ‘Nimrod’ from his Enigma Variations in the film’s dramatic theme. Sound mixing is excellent. The roar of a falling enemy aircraft from the sky will haunt you.

Dunkirk is supreme at almost every technical department. Nolan’s screenplay is superbly balanced with Lee Smith‘s editing. The timing of the segments’ stories kept changing ahead and behind to show from other character’s point of view and it is indeed the beauty of editing which makes Dunkirk attract the audience understand the depth of the story from different angles. Hoyte van Hoytema‘s cinematography is sublime. I loved the aerial plane attacking shots.

Christopher Nolan keeps experimenting a new genre and develops his directional methods and ways of telling the stories. His direction is frank, polar and strict to the subject. In first half an hour, the presentation of the film is concentrating on the happenings at the beach, in the air, and at the sea with very remote dialogues. With the help of a phenomenal film editing, Nolan has crafted his Nolanistic method of depicting the heightened realism and giving the viewers a chance to see his artistry like resurrecting for a reason.

Dunkirk is so superior film that in a premiere the Dunkirk veterans wept and expressed if they time traveled back in Dunkirk. The veterans approved the realism and precise presentation of the war. Many critics have declared Dunkirk to be Nolan’s best work to date. It truly is a difficult question with more arguments than announcing the conclusion. Between his Inception, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Dunkirk, it seems impossible to pick the best and ignore the rest.

In my opinion, Dunkirk is the greatest war film ever made and will be remembered for ages. The greatest in a sense that the subject has been addressed and crafted in the most excellent form and has to be included in an elite list of the greatest war films like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan.

Ratings: 9.5/10

“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. and even if this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”


Movie Review: Lebanon (2009)

Lebanon poster

A view inside a tank from gun turret…. Faces hiding traces or disgraces…. Running car or a bridge too far… Silent house or screaming blouse…

An Israeli soldier without being reckless and haughty… his patience and sweat costing a huge amount of pulling the trigger to decide a fate of targeted person either innocent of fifty-cent, rebellion from a million, protester or protector, violent or benevolent, peacemaker or troublemaker…

Lebanon is an Israeli movie produced in 2009 by Samuel Maoz under the production banners from Israel, France and Germany. Most remarkable point of the movie is that it is anti-war movie which don’t appeal to tweet your pros and cons. Besides only 3 images, the whole movie is amazingly shot inside the tank. The outside view is all from gun turret. The entire film was shot in and around Tel Aviv.

Movie is based on 1982 Lebanon war which was fought between Israeli military forces and Yasser Arafat’s PLO (Palestine Liberal Organization), Bachir Gemayel’s LNRF (Lebanese National Resistance Front). This 3-year-war broke when Palestinian militant Abu Nadal’s organization (ANO) attempted assassination against Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov. In result, Israeli military, under heavy leadership of the-then Israeli premier Menachem Begin, the-then defence minister Ariel Sharon and Army-chief Rafael Eitan, invaded southern part of Lebanon. Director Samuel Maoz was himself a gunner in one of the first Israeli tanks which entered Lebanon in this war. This film is actually made on his experience.

It is an account of four Israeli soldiers fighting inside the tank; a driver, a loader, a gunner and a commander. Israeli air force has just bombed the place and now they have received the order from above – clean Lebanon and shoot to kill who are a threat. They were also green-signaled to use phosphorus grenade in the war to invade Lebanon. According to International Law or Treaty, use of phosphorus grenade or white phosphorus is forbidden in battles and wars.

Few more war participants enter the tank time by time e.g., dead Israeli soldier or Syrian war prisoner but the four are the main on whom the story revolves. Movie speaks the way they communicate/coordinate each other. As a matter of fact, this director’s masterpiece offers amazing body language of soldiers and multifaceted scenes. Much a hard work is done on the core casts, when it comes to complications of firing, shooting and even using hydraulic whine of gun turret. 

For a soldier from any nationality or faith, fighting a war inside the tank is never easy specially while using gun turret. The soldier who use the turret has never fired or used the turret and will face the consequences. The first shot fired will haunt the rest inside. The tank covers few critical sites where danger is alarming or suspicious are thought barning. Few scenes give you second thought or reluctantly check the scene again like troop of soldiers scanning the threat, firing in one shop but after a little pause, leaving a small kid on his feet.


‘Lebanon’ offers a bulk of sharp contrast on behaviors of soldiers towards the first hours of war and the way they take this fight to suffer depression and disagreeing verbal exchanges. It is a wonderful translation of psychological aspects of the soldiers. They are all amateur and young soldiers who are put on duty to receive and follow the orders in such a massive war.

‘Lebanon’ was an extreme luggage of critic’s necessity worldwide with most positive reviews. It was rated R for disturbing bloody war violence, language including sexual references, and some nudity. It won the Leone d’Oro at the 66th Venice International Film Festival becoming the first Israeli-produced film to have won that honor. A must watch drama with all war-iffic elements of film making. 

Ratings: 7/10

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