A story of ordinary men

SEB presents ‘Dunkirk,’ a film about a battle in France during WWII

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen columnist

Up next in the CUB Auditorium is the war epic “Dunkirk,” directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy and Tom Glynn-Carney. Set in 1940, the film follows the tale of the 400,000 British and French troops that tried to evacuate the namesake city, with the German Army and Air Force hot on their heels as they attack Dunkirk.

To start, this movie is nothing short of an epic undertaking. Its scale is massive, and divides itself into three separate timelines of land, sea and air, spanning a week, a day and an hour. It tells the story of this battle in the way that feels down on the ground — a sense of time is lost, and seemingly separate events are tied together in a thread that winds itself through the cloth.

Beyond that, the musical score is astounding; Hans Zimmer really out-did himself this time, and it shows. The Shepard Tone, or constantly rising-yet-not-rising tone that dominates the soundtrack, only adds to the film; the noise holds you in your seat, and you feel your stomach tighten as the tension builds.

Beyond that, it also adds to Nolan’s motifs on time, and how it warps and changes throughout our lives; whether it’s the ticking Zimmer is famous for, or the Shepard tone Nolan loves, it adds dimension to this story of defeat that ultimately secured victory.

What is most interesting about this movie is what Nolan chose to focus on. Throughout the movie, Nolan gives supreme focus on the bravery of the men on the shores, and the men and women who came to pull them out, and get them away from those that would see them destroyed. However, Nolan gives little focus to the characters he portrays; the focus is on them solely in the battle, and nothing outside of that.

While the movie is visually arresting and bears on the senses with a heavy hand, this is where the movie falls short for me. By not developing the characters in the run of the movie, we learn little of what inspires the bravery that Nolan so heavily focuses on; you only see these men in the moment, and little of them elsewhere. While I’m not denying that these men were brave — they’re ordinary men who were extraordinary beyond compare — I wish I could see what made these men face death in the way they did.

That being said, “Dunkirk” is still worth seeing. It is visually intriguing in a way that only Nolan can deliver, and one that will last possibly as long as “Saving Private Ryan.” It will show at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday in the CUB Auditorium. There will be popcorn while supplies last, and admission is free for students and $2 for guests.

Morgan Lester is a freshman architectural studies major from Leavenworth, Kansas. He can be contacted at [email protected].