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I could not contain myself when writing about Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK ( full review here). It’s going to be a major contender during awards season, with perhaps another nod to Mark Rylance for his understated by powerful performance as a civilian putting himself in harm’s way in order to do his part to keep the Nazis at bay. (My interview with Nolan for INSOMNIA is here).
Nolan uses very little in the way of exposition in telling the story of Allied troops stranded on the eponymous beach with the Nazis picking them off in a way that is not just deadly, but also demeaning. Trust me when I tell you that the lack of exposition in no way detracts from the film, which is more experiential that classically narrative. If you want more background, though, there are several fine sources online that you can find using your favorite search engine. I would recommend, though, two works of fiction that add another dimension to the story. The first is Joe Wright’s perfection of a film, ATONEMENT (full review here), which depicts the events of Dunkirk in a sequence that is as harrowing as it is starkly poetic. My interview with Wright and co-star James McAvoy covers Wright’s artistic choices.
The other fiction I recommend are two novels by multiple Hugo Award-winner Connie Willis. Blackout and All Clear are about time-travelers visiting World War II, but Willis vividly integrates her meticulous research on the period into the story. It’s like being there. Dunkirk is just part of a sprawling story that takes the reader through the war years by showing us what it was like to live through it day to day. It’s a great read, as are all her novels and short stories, so fair warning that your reading list is about to expand exponentially.