Unjust reckoning of Dunkirk’s best picture nomination


Photo Provided

Natalia Mora, Memorial Staff Writer

Quiet, surreal and impressionistic, the 2017 PG-13 release Dunkirk is not afraid to arouse the grotesque grit and moral complexity of World War II events while meticulously polishing the people interjected into its boneyards of casualty and despair. The film, under direction of Christopher Nolan, the same director behind Inception and the Dark Knight series, immerses the watcher into a noir-styled experience, as they can feel the weight that these members are under, amorphously lingering over their heads like a cloud.

The film hit American theaters on Jul. 21 for a runtime of 107 minutes, accompanying the movies Girls Trip and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Dunkirk, earning 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, $188 million in the box office, and special awards from international institutes, most heavily triumphed in the categories of technical editing, direction and foreign status.

Notably, Nolan’s film swept in eight respective nominations including best categories in picture, director, cinematography, production design, film editing, original score, sound editing, and sound mixing at the Oscar Academy Awards. The film won best sound editing and mixing and video editing.

Few commentators stray from mentioning that this movie is dark. Far from the feel-good memorabilia most merit-based war epics retain, Dunkirk showcases the human spirit in its most tragic and beautiful form through senseless demise and drive to insanity.

The events are inspired by a WWII event in which the British and French armies were stranded on Dunkirk’s shallow shores, imposed loomingly by a German blitzkrieg and substantial loss of life. As armies soon called out and waited for locals to vacate them from the French port, poor conditions and soldiers’ melodrama yielded observers to predict only 30,000 would be rescued.

However, with the mutual effort and tenacity among the British and French soldiers, two historically dissonant forces, over ten times the forecasted soldiers were evacuated safely, symbolically marking it a historical touchstone in British culture. The miracle story has been highlighted in past installments, all of which Nolan’s film refuses to relate to in formula.

Its story is coaxed by rudimentary events that ring closer in Europe than in the states, yet its sophisticated air can be felt by all international viewers alike. The depiction is historically accurate, although some have criticized the portrayal of the French in this story, shoving British soldiers off their ships to save their own hides instead of the truth of the French holding off Germans while the British evacuated, playing a rather chivalrous act in the operation. Other critics comment on its calculated assets, claiming Nolan to have illegitimately represented the events without stir or moxie, demanding a more scrappy and authentic depiction.

Its budget was far from needy, capping at 100 million dollars; its coordinated production was shielded from the hardships and improv that lower-budget films were forced to manifest. Some coldly claim that the sheer resources at Nolan’s disposal elevated the movie to its current height, not its essence.

Although it is true that Dunkirk’s events have been investigated in cinematography before, this thriller’s true spectacles that set it apart from others are in each tattered face, fighter plane and rowboat to grace the screen behind eerily blue skies. For Dunkirk’s artistry and emotional take on recorded history, placing intricacy between each life on the death count, this Oscar nominee was well deserving of the best picture award.


Contact Natalia Mora at [email protected]