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Genre: Historical war thriller
Photography: Color
Running Time: 107 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
United States
Release Date: 21 July 2017
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Starring: Fionn Whitehead
Tom Glynn-Carney
Jack Lowden
Harry Styles
Aneurin Barnard
James D'Arcy
Barry Keoghan
Kenneth Branagh
Cillian Murphy
Mark Rylance
Tom Hardy

Dunkirk is a 2017 World War II film directed and written by Christopher Nolan, depicting the evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk in May 1940.


The film is split into three different stories:

  • The Mole: Set over one week. British Expeditionary Force soldiers Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), Alex (Harry Styles), and Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) are among the 400,000 Allied soldiers who are trapped in Dunkirk, and they desperately try to find a way home alive.
  • The Sea: Set over one day. Pleasure boater Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), along with his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Peter's friend, George (Barry Keoghan), set sail to Dunkirk to help in the evacuation.
  • The Air: Set over one hour. A section of Spitfire fighter planes, consisting of Farrier (Tom Hardy), Collins (Jack Lowden), and Fortis Leader (Michael Caine) fly a sortie over the English Channel to aid the evacuation by protecting British ships from Luftwaffe attacks.

Why it Rocks

  1. Despite being rated PG-13, the movie has a very suspenseful and uneasy atmosphere that makes you feel as if you're actually in the beaches of Dunkirk. Nolan intended for this film to feel like "virtual reality without the goggles", and it's safe to say he succeeded.
  2. Excellent cinematography. At least 75% of the movie was shot with IMAX cameras, and they're certainly put to good use.
  3. Hans Zimmer's score is very intense and suspenseful. The movie also has a nice rendition of Nimrod from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, slowed down to six beats per minute to breathtaking effect.
  4. The movie doesn't use typical war movie tropes, making it feel less like a story about soldiers fighting in a war and more about the war itself.
  5. Amazing usage of practical special effects. Even better is that most of the ships and planes used in the film are all real aside from some replicas and remote-controlled models.
  6. Realistic performances from the actors, including newcomers Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles (the latter is already known as a member of the band One Direction).
  7. Lee Smith's editing of the film won him the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.


The film received critical praise upon release, earning a 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made over $500 million at the box office. It is widely considered to be not only one of the greatest war movies ever made, but also one of Christopher Nolan's best movies.

The film won Best Sound for Richard King, Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, and Mark Weingarten at the British Academy Film Awards, not to mention winning Best Film Editing for Lee Smith, Best Sound Editing for King and Alex Gibson, and Best Sound Mixing for Landaker, Rizzo, and Weingarten at the Academy Awards.


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