A breathtaking film by Christopher Nolan that puts you right in the boots of Allied soldiers surrounded by German troops on a beach in Dunkirk, France. As they anxiously await evacuation to England they are subjected to raining bombs from German airplanes and, perhaps more scarily, uncertainty about whether sufficient boats will come. A young soldier (Fionn Whitehead) stumbles onto the beach and, shocked by the queues for the boats, helps a mysteriously silent soldier skip the line by carrying an injured man on a stretcher. A play on words in the title of the first act ( a “mole” is both a spy and a stony pier) creates tension as we wonder what the taciturn soldier is up to.
Nolan also gives us two other perspectives from the sea and air, following a civilian sailboat captain (Mark Rylance) and his son, rushing to help with the rescue, and a Spitfire pilot (Jack Lowden) engaging in unnerving dogfights with enemy fighter pilots.
While the movie has been criticized for its creative license with history, there’s no doubt of its success as an immersive film experience, particular if you see it in IMAX as I did. Nolan actually filmed the whole thing with IMAX cameras and it’s quite an experience.