Writer/Director Christopher Nolan shows he has a way with a human story with every bit the impact and drama that his high concept films feature. With Dunkirk, he wisely distills a massive event down into an accessible examination seen through the experiences of just a few small groups.
In this context, he build tension in a masterful way. The film features very little dialogue and Hans Zimmer’s score is a major player in the film’s tone and emotional impact. The tension is fierce and relentless and never loosens its grip throughout the 106 minute running time.
The horror of war is never far from view but it isn’t presented in an overly graphic or bloody way. This approach adds even more to the film’s impact because it doesn’t distance the viewer with the off putting gore and carnage that becomes most war film’s stock and trade.
There are moments of great intensity in both film score and sound effects volume with the howl of planes diving and the discharge of armaments. There is also the beauty and inspiration shown deeply in moments of human resolve. This work vividly validates Nolan’s place among the all time greats.