World war II has always been fascinating, if that is the right word about a brutal war which killed people in millions. Not because of the war itself, but the people who were in that war.

My introduction happened with a pillow-sized version of a book from the erstwhile Soviet union during my school days. What fascinated me was the folded maps of the battlefronts and position of armies. I used to spend hours trying to visualize  the maps in the context of war itself.

I read Churchill's magnum opus on the war - The six volume 'The Second World war' - which was the perfect antidote to the Soviet books by providing a different view of the war, where Britain takes the center stage. There are many events that stand out in Churchill's version, about the man's genius and the resilience he and his people showed during some of the darkest hours of the war.

Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is about one such darkest hour for Britain and its allies. The Panzer divisions have pulverized the French army and ran over France in a matter of days putting the British Expeditionary Force at risk along with the French and Belgian army. The British plan an evacuation at Dunkirk hoping to get at least 10% of their army home.

Apart from being one of historical interest, what makes it stands out as a movie is the way it is made. Nolan does it by inter splicing the story from three different points of view and juggling the linearity of time to tell it in a sequence. The viewer is made to work a little to understand the little jumps in time - back and forth - and is engaged entirely in the movie as a whole.

Told as a story of British spirit and how that spirit endured would've made enough impact on the viewer as such. However, the little personal drama - in the yacht, in the conversations in the Spitfires or the small gestures of decency at the vast beaches of Dunkirk make for a gripping tale.

The beach itself - vast, white sands with recreational chairs and hotels on the beach front - plays an indelible part in the movie. The wax and waning of the tides, the abandoned trawlers, the dunes which are eerily strewn with dead bodies, the ghostly wave of sands which sweep around, the frothing of waves, the weeds along the beach - all play a part in creating that somber setting and mood for the movie.

Hans Zimmer's immersive music just sets in with the overall ambience and creates the perfect background for the action. The dog fights in the air between the Spitfires and the Me-109's are done with a lot of POV creating the illusion of watching the fight as first person.

All three stories - the mole (the beach jetty), the sea and the air - converge at the end like the crescendo of a symphony finishing the tale. The soldiers read the iconic Churchill's speech at the end in the newspapers.

However, what was missing - as compared to a 'Saving Private Ryan' or a 'Enemy at the gates' - was the sentimental connect. The movie is a focused historical war drama - the end of which you are a little richer in your history but feel no connect to the central characters in the movie. The larger canvas of the movie making and the colors create the texture of the land and the characters which after a while you are no longer invested in.

Overall, the movie is an experience in the craft of making sweeping historical drama and I would love to see Nolan follow this up with a one on the 'Battle of Britain' - which will be interesting.

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