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Ben Brahem Ziryab

Dunkirk 70mm

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Just got back from the "regular" 70mm 9pm screening of Dunkirk. Wow! Has to go up there as one of the greatest war films in film history. Christopher Nolan has firmly cemented himself as one of the greatest auteurs in cinema. a few spoilers follow

 

 

 

 

 

Cinematically I was blown away. The shear size and definition of the frame was mesmerizing. Ironically I had just watched a piece earlier in the evening about Elsa Dorfman and her giant Polaroids. I was amazed at how sharp they are. Then later in the evening going to see this film, the sharpness was very much the same, despite the giant Polaroids being much larger.

 

Loved how you never see the enemy. The sound design is as good as the visuals! The beach scenes, either in a wide shot or close up are probably the most beautiful, but I am splitting hairs. This film is a perfect match of format and story. It was in every way worthy of expense and extra effort it took to shoot in 15/70 and 5/70. I am just rambling for the most part because I was very impressed in a good way by this film and am still processing it. If you can, go see a film presentation of Dunkirk, not digital. Go to an arthouse, their projectionists usually do a better job than a megaplex. But go see this film. It is subtle and gigantic at the same time.

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Before my review... I will mention a few technical things.

 

Saw this at the Cinerama Dome in 5/70. Projection was really good, some minor registration issues noted, but the screen is huge. It was bright, perfectly focused and had zero noticeable flicker.

 

There were moments where I could tell the 15/65 footage from the 5/65, but that's because the IMAX cameras have an odd shutter effect when panning, so it's easy to tell. Resolution wise it was super crisp, I wasn't surprised but I felt it was better then many movies we see today.

 

Hoyte did a great job, but there were many moments that looked under exposed and were brought up photochemically. I was surprised about those, but what can you do. I felt the printer lights weren't set well for some other scenes as well, but they did have weather issues, so you never really know what the originals looked like. Consistency was kinda all over the map due to that issue, but I think they did a good job covering up with the technology they were using. Over all I was very impressed with the cinematography, but I would have personally done things slightly different.

 

SO... my (brief non-spoiler) review of Dunkirk :clears throat: There has never been anything like this made in the history of cinema. War movies can't really depict war because they always feel obligated to tell stories. Nolan threw the whole story thing out the window. It's literally one big action scene that lasts 1 hour and 40 some odd minutes. It's a brilliant idea because it really gives you the essence of war; it's relentless and it simply doesn't stop. Even the great war films like 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Patton', have quiet moments in between the battles, but not Dunkirk. Quiet is a brief dialog scene where the actors try to figure out how the F to survive the next 10 seconds. Then the filmmakers tear down all the walls and watch as the characters try to survive the next few moments. To say it's intense is an understatement, your eyes are pegged to the screen, your senses are on high alert. You are in the spitfire as it attacks the German plane. You're in the ship as it's torpedoed and floods in real time. You're on the beach as it's bombed and peoples bodies fly into the sky. It's the best 3rd act to a war movie that I've ever seen, only... there aren't a 1st and 2nd act.

 

So this is where I was SLIGHTLY disappointed. The movie focuses on the "action" and doesn't let the audience soak it in. It also doesn't give you any emotional attachment to the characters or even the situation, you never "feel" for anyone. Thus, it left me not really caring what I saw on screen. Like a video game, it just fed me constant stimulus until it was over, but I felt there could have been some moments to draw the audience into the people, rather then JUST the event as a whole. Even though some people didn't like Interstellar, (Nolan's last movie) I loved it because I could relate to the characters and there was an emotional thread I could cling onto. Even ten minutes of character development spread throughout the movie, would have been really good, but as I sit here writing this, having just seen it, I feel a lack of emotion that was very much present after watching Interstellar.

 

With that said, what I saw was pretty damn awesome and technically it was so well made, I feel like the bar has been risen 3 levels. This maybe the last "great" war film ever made. We may never see anything like this again because NOBODY will spend the time and effort it takes to get it all in camera, the right way. It worked so well in 70mm, it looked fantastic, it sounded awesome. The music was spot on and honestly slightly unmemorable because the movie moved so fast, it was hard to focus on any single thing. I was very much impressed with everything I saw and frankly, I think everyone should stop what they're doing and see Dunkirk in 70mm IMAX if they can find a theater near them. It's an experience that may never come around again and once it's gone from the theaters, your chance is over. Like so many great movies, this is one to be seen in the theater, the small screen will never do it justice.

 

Score grade: A

Score percentage 95%

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hang on.. there is no story.. ! thats a fairly major negative (pardon the pun)..

 

er... it's Dunkirk... of course theres a story! ;)

 

Freya

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Did anyone get to see a trailer for Darren Aronofsky's "Mother!"?

It sounds interesting but it's the first I heard about the movie!

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black

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er... it's Dunkirk... of course theres a story! ;)

 

Freya

 

 

sure buts not a historic doc.. or if it is its the most expensive ever made.. The Russian revolution was a story but there was a bit more to Dr Zhivago... owning a Hawk is a story but Kes gave us a bit more.. ;).. know what I mean..

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sure buts not a historic doc.. or if it is its the most expensive ever made.. The Russian revolution was a story but there was a bit more to Dr Zhivago... owning a Hawk is a story but Kes gave us a bit more.. ;).. know what I mean..

 

I think you hit the nail on the head right there. The story about owning a hawk could have many different kind of films made from it that could all be amazing in different ways.

 

I was joking around but there is this obsession people have about story and there are different levels of story and I'm not a believer that story is the be all and end all the way people talk about it. Alice in Wonderland has one of the worst storys ever but it is a great book. It has such amazing character and dialogue. This was the damning criticism from Tyler that there could have been more character development so you felt more of a connection with the people but maybe it's not supposed to be about the individuals but about this event that happened to huge numbers of people.

 

I've not seen the movie myself so I can't be sure what it is like but I think movies can be good in different kinds of ways and I think they should be good in different kinds of ways.

 

Freya

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On another note... I really liked this review of the movie:

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-20/-dunkirk-and-the-great-films-that-won-t-be-made

 

The reviews coming out are so overwhelmingly positive and excited that I can only imagine that some people are going to be dissapointed with the film. It can't be all things to everyone and when something has that much traction behind it then it can start to be hard to live up to the overwhelming hype.

 

I'm wondering how long it will be before the word "overrated" gets used.

I think it's clear that Christopher Nolan must have achieved something special to get this much excitement for a movie about the second world war that doesn't feature any super heroes. Well other than Harry Styles of course.

However people may well get overwhelmed by the excitement about it and expect something it can't do or be.

 

Anyway we will see.

 

Freya

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Yes I know you weren't serious.. I haven't seen the film either.. ut its had pretty much uniform glowing reports .. so was surprised to see in a film that long there isnt really any story or character development .. which IMHO would be fairly vital part in a feature film .. as opposed to an amazingly hi tech doc..

 

But yes I haven't seen it.. Im sure its visually amazing.. and probably worth the ticket price for that.. but I hope there more to it than that..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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Yes I know you weren't serious.. I haven't seen the film either.. ut its had pretty much uniform glowing reports .. so was surprised to see in a film that long there isnt really any story or character development .. which IMHO would be fairly vital part in a feature film .. as opposed to an amazingly hi tech doc..

 

But yes I haven't seen it.. Im sure its visually amazing.. and probably worth the ticket price for that.. but I hope there more to it than that..

 

I have a feeling there is a fair bit of story but I think people will confuse a lack of dilogue for a lack of story.

Also it's not a straightforward linear narrative, and that can be difficult for people sometimes too so the combination of the two may make some people feel like there is no story but Mr Nolan is kind of famous for non-linear narratives. It also may not help that people basically know the story, or maybe that does help, I'm not sure.

I have a feeling there is a story. It's a narrative film after all.

 

The character development issue may be a bigger one and I suspect that may be a bigger problem for some people than others. There are a lot of people who really need to know a lot more about the characters to feel any attachment to them, so that could be an issue but films can be lacking in some area or another and still really work I feel.

 

To a certain extent the criticisms may come down a bit to "It isn't like all the other films I normally see" which for a lot of people is the point and why they are excited by it.

 

Freya

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James Bond usually doesn't have any character development. in most of the films he's pretty much the same at the end as at the start. It has been the argument that feature films are plot driven while TV drama is character driven. Of course, this is an over simplification.

 

Character is often revealed by actions, dialogue alone doesn't reveal character, it's the conflict within the dialogue, therefore its action that does this. .

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Yeah Im not saying it has to be dialogue driven or action driven...My dinner with Andre is a great film.. and i think Spectre, to my mind is one of the better bond films .. because we did get a bit more than Roger Moore raising an eye brow .. alot of Bond films have been pretty crappy for a long time.. its all moot as i haven't seen Dunkirk.. but its a worry when some who has, says theres no story of character development ..and from a die hard Nolan fan!!.. thats all Im saying..nothing more deep than that..

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There is a story, how do we get everyone off this beach. We see several characters large and small attempt to do that. We see their personal triumphs and failures along the way. Plenty of character development. Look at the character that Cillian Murphy plays. As it has been said here before we all know the story, but it is what Nolan chooses to show us that is brilliant.

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Yes, there is absolutely character development, but none of it gives you an emotional attachment. Also, the visuals and pacing are so overwhelming, it leaves the audience no time to process. It reminds me more of Mad Max Fury Road then any other war movie I've ever seen.

 

The story is how the troops got off the beach. It's simple and it works, but it doesn't have any layers. To make the lack of layers, he split up the story into 3 parts that happen simultaneously in different timelines. This was a clever trick, but only necessary due to the lack of story layers.

 

I just left the theater emotionless and for me, that's not a good sign. I will see it again during the week in IMAX and see if maybe a 2nd time around I find something maybe I missed on the first viewing.

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On another note... I really liked this review of the movie:

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-20/-dunkirk-and-the-great-films-that-won-t-be-made

 

The reviews coming out are so overwhelmingly positive and excited that I can only imagine that some people are going to be dissapointed with the film. It can't be all things to everyone and when something has that much traction behind it then it can start to be hard to live up to the overwhelming hype.

 

I'm wondering how long it will be before the word "overrated" gets used.

I think it's clear that Christopher Nolan must have achieved something special to get this much excitement for a movie about the second world war that doesn't feature any super heroes. Well other than Harry Styles of course.

However people may well get overwhelmed by the excitement about it and expect something it can't do or be.

 

Anyway we will see.

 

Freya

 

I haven't seen it yet. But I have read a few reviews, which as you say have been all positive. But then I found this:

 

"My Father, Who Survived Dunkirk, Would Not Have Recognized Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk"

http://www.thestranger.com/film/2017/07/19/25297266/my-father-who-survived-dunkirk-would-not-have-recognized-christopher-nolans-dunkirk

 

Interesting point of view.

 

I will still see it though.

Edited by Adam Paul

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Good article.. forgot about the Dunkirk stuff in Atonement .. yes a bit telling maybe.. a child friendly rated war film.. sounds like the 50,s Brit war films.. all stiff upper lip.. roller neck sweaters .. and no blood or death..

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Feature films aren't history, although some are more accurate than others.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/07/20/what_s_fact_and_what_s_fiction_in_dunkirk.html

 

A less restrictive rating allows for larger audience figures, an issue with big budget films.

 

The man who was the Kenneth Branagh real character:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/herefordandworcester/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8701000/8701355.stm

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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Sure it is not a documentary. But a PG13 war movie is a bit like a PG13 horror movie. It will be watered down any way you look at it.

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Unbelievably beautiful cinematography and use of the IMAX format, but not much cop as a film in my opinion. Given Christopher Nolan has directed it though, it will get lauded to high heaven.

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Yes PG13 might be good for ticket sales.. but Im not sure having to make a war film within those constricts is the best thing for a film.. yes alot of recent films haven't been very accurate.. they mostly have Americas as heroes regardless of any historical facts ..:)

 

A bit cheeky.. but sure doesn't make them bad films just because of that..

 

Again I haven't seen the film.. but if that beach is void of body parts and alot of claret .. that would be a bit of red flag for me .. and more than a bit of a let down considering the director.. I mean whats next.. the Dunkirk Disney Ride... actually that wouldn't surprise me TBH..

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There are plenty of dead bodies on the beaches, there are plenty of bodies thrown up into the air from explosions.

 

It's just, they didn't need to 'Saving Private Ryan' the beach scenes, there was no reason. You weren't focused on the action as much as the characters, so what's the point of having a limb fly in front of them, only to get an R rating?

 

It's far more important that people feel safe watching this movie, so the word about what happened at Dunkirk gets out to the public. I've told dozens of people about this movie and NOBODY knew about the Dunkirk invasion of WWII. This film's whole purpose is to educate the masses, that's the only reason Nolan made it.

 

So if it were rated R, it wouldn't have as great of a mass appeal, thus common people who may know nothing, may have not gone out to see it, which is a real shame.

 

I think Nolan did the right thing as documentary wouldn't have nearly as many eyes on it.

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I went to see a 15/70mm IMAX print today at the Waterloo IMAX in London. Incredible!

I liked the film but there were some parts I was not too keen on. I don't want to spoiler anything for those yet to see it. I will say that the parts of the film I was not into were not that bad in comparison to how good the rest of the film was for me.

 

There were parts of the same scene that looked a bit off to me, a shift in the lighting and/or colour. I don't know too much about film projection though so I don't know why this was - it certainly didn't seem to be an artistic choice (although I can't question that). So I'm waiting till its home release to be able to re watch and see how this looks.

 

Seeing something projected that big is special. And the sound. Wow. That was amazing!

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Sure I shouldn't comment till Ive seen it.. although its only worth getting the message out to the great un washed as long its its fairly accurate .. un sanitized/glorified version.. I wonder what people who were actually there have said it it.. would be interesting.. many who were at the D day landings say that Private Ryan was very accurate and they had to leave the theater ..

 

Im not sure even Churchill's war time, spinsters could call it the Dunkirk invasion. :)... and interesting that in reality everyone was told not to talk about it afterwards..

 

The main reason you guys in the states may not have heard about Dunkirk .. is there was never a film made with Americans saving the Brits off the beaches on surfboards.. :)

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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