‘Dunkirk’ leaves resonating thoughts on war

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Story by Audrey Haskins, Staff Writer

War is intense and intense is exactly what director Christopher Nolan brings to the table in his new movie “Dunkirk.” Its in-depth insight on the impact war has on a person is what sets the film apart from other war movies. From start to finish, you are continually surprised from this work of art; Nolan made this true story an original masterpiece.

“Dunkirk” is not a typical war movie. It’s less about the action of the battle and more about the psychological toll it takes on one’s mind. Rather than focusing on gore, Nolan shines a light on the loss of naivety in young men going to war unprepared. It’s about a group of people left naked, and when exposed, the characters’ personalities change in one of two ways: for the best or for the worst.

This dramatic film is about 400,000 stranded French and English men surrounded by German soldiers on the beach of Dunkirk, France. Their only mission is to make it back home across the sea. Getting home in one piece, however, proves to be difficult.

The film takes in three perspectives: the land, the sea and the air. On land some were stuck, surrounded by enemies for a week. On the water, the violence from the enemy was so consistent that they had a day on a ship, maximum, without the craft sinking. For people in the air, only an hour to fight and make it back safely was given, due to the amount of fuel a British spitfire can hold. Each of the soldiers responded to the extreme situations in a variety of ways.

Take the difference between characters Alex (Harry Styles) and Tommy (Fionn Whitehead). Two men on land who stuck together but had contrasting personalities. When faced with a difficult situation, Alex reacts with anger. He isn’t afraid to show his dark side and sacrifice someone to save himself. His main focus is survival and other people’s opinions of him. He has an “it is what it is” attitude throughout the film and expects people to agree with him.

Tommy, on the other hand, reacts logically when in a tough spot. He maintains a calm mindset when in danger, and looks for the best way out of a bad situation. He does this all while caring for other people, even if they may not be on the same team he is.

In a breathtaking scene where a group of soldiers are being fired at by the enemy, they choose to hide in a boat stuck on the shore. Alex chooses a soldier with them to exit the vessel and sacrifice himself so that the enemies will believe he is the only person on the boat. Alex does this because he knows that the soldier is secretly on the enemy’s side. Tommy, however, defends the scared man and fights against Alex, claiming the soldier is just as afraid as the rest of the crew.

The film itself is  impersonal. In the midst of a war where people are dying left and right, the characters know not to ask for names. This shows that those who are in the same uniform are on the same side. Names don’t matter. They know attachment is a weakness if the partner they’re with is no longer around.

Christopher Nolan creates a world where actors do more reacting than acting. He even shows in a behind the scenes video his crew using real explosions instead of special effects, and has confirmed that at one point there were 62 real ships in the water. He even went as far as to have the movie filmed in Dunkirk, France, where the real action took place.

Everything from the cinematography to the sound set the tone to be suspenseful. He truly managed to outdo himself to make the person enjoying his film feel immersed. “Dunkirk” is not a film that reminds one of something they’ve seen before. It’s a jaw-dropping experience. Not something easily forgotten.

At times our school can feel like a war-zone. Many of the students are desperate to get to the finish line and graduate. They feel stuck in place with no control over their social or academic situations. High school students watching this movie at a time when they’re so young and overwhelmed can learn from the characters reactions to stress. People can see the mistakes characters made from their good decisions and relate it back to everyday situations. “Dunkirk provides this teaching opportunity through many avenues and will continue to make a lasting impression on viewers everywhere.