Terrifying, tense, terrific. Christopher Nolan delivers his brilliant take on the well known British war story of Dunkirk that opens up with a bang and doesn’t let up.
Tick-Tick-Tick. like a watch timing your pulse the sound accompanies the group of young British soldiers wandering through the deserted French city. Papers rain from the sky, with a dreaded message: Dunkirk is surrounded, they and 400,000 other soldiers are surrounded. The Dunkirk soundtrack and sound effects are incredible.
BANG! The gunshot cuts through the silence and panic sets in. Tick-Tick-Tick. The “clock” sound quickens right with our heartbeats as the audience grasp their chairs firmly. The group of 6 are swiftly cut down to a sole survivor as gunshots from a faceless enemy chase the young boy.
Tick-Tick-Tick, our hearts are in our mouths as the soldier races to the British blockade in search of aid, then as he darts past the checkpoint he ends up on the beach with 400,000 other souls. The music resides as our hearts go back to something resembling normal, but the danger isn’t over yet…
The anxiety we feel, mostly generated from the Dunkirk soundtrack right from the start of the film accompanies us the whole way through. This is what makes Dunkirk great. It’s honest. You don’t have this heavily graded darkness of soldiers fighting in the rain and performing heroics. Quite the opposite, the soldiers are close to home, fed up with fighting and shell-shocked.
The sound effects of the planes in Dunkirk is terrifying yet brilliant
The first time you hear the enemy planes and watch them bare down on the defenseless soldiers on the beach you feel absolute fear. The sound strikes terror in your heart as the soldiers run aimlessly for cover.
The clock sound ticking away fast and the strings accompanying the hymn of the jet engines, the cacophony had everyone on the edge of their seats. Even the allied spitfire planes spurting out hails of bullets and rattling around in the sky added to the tense atmosphere that made Dunkirk so real. The Dunkirk soundtrack and sound effects are unreal.
Dunkirk features a faceless enemy
Steven Spielberg learnt early in his career whilst filming Jaws (Due largely to technical difficulties) that the key to creating suspense is to rather not show your enemy. This was Dunkirk to a tee.
Sure you see planes, bombers and the odd torpedo but the German soldier is no-where to be seen, yet omnipresent. It creates such uneasiness as we know just how close the enemy is to the soldiers given the gunshots that are fired when they venture too close to their boundary.
The hopelessness of the Dunkirk situation leaves you frustrated
Our silent main star Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead seems to have a good heart but has been through hell and back. While he may seem like a coward at times (which is a refreshing change from most war films) if you asked Mark Rylance’s character he would tell you he was “shell-shocked”.
These two actors shined alongside Tom Hardy who played the stoic pilot Farrier. The non-linear timeline jumps around from day to night and eventually intersects, this enabled that constant tenseness that was quite unrelenting throughout Dunkirk.
As far as war films go I can’t wait to see another as honest as this, although I think it will be some time before they make one that’s as good. A survival story of odds being stacked against you, Dunkirk is the most intense movie you will watch this year. Just make sure you don’t view it if you have a pre-existing heart condition.