Long take: Nolan/Zimmer’s Dunkirk, consummate suspense flawed by red herrings

Hans Zimmer’s ominous Shepard tones come fully packaged with an hour’s worth of 70mm film stock and era-authentic props in Nolan’s long-awaited epic Dunkirk. Ticking in synchrony with the viewers’ pulse, Zimmer imposes quick and resonant orchestration that reverberates through the action in the cockpit and on the beachhead. Hitchcock would be proud.

The opening scene is set by overlaid typescript. They are stranded, and hoping for deliverance, reads the text. They are looking for a miracle, looking for home. “Home”. Like that, we have a central motif—but is Home really what we’re waiting for? Swap out a consonant and you’ve got an answer: hope is the most elusive, and desired, element involved. Hope and hopelessness weigh on the minds of each character in spades, while they’re connection to home seems distant, unassuming, or trivial.

That the lack of exposition gave us protagonists-as-blank-slates was fine. Major historical events shouldn’t squander valuable $400/minute film stock just to do us the favour of explaining Harry Styles’ backstory or bother bringing us up to speed on the development of the European theatre. The only point worth making is made effortlessly: invasion is imminent.

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Long take: Nolan/Zimmer’s Dunkirk, consummate suspense flawed by red herrings