THE COMMERCIAL FILM OF THE WEEK
DUNKIRK (2017) by Christopher Nolan
“Christopher the First, the intense”
Let us surrender to the evidence: the world needs Christopher Nolan. Who, if not, is able to synthesize, from the media and economic loudspeaker of the blockbuster, the humanist message that this planet, in these times of political, social and existential distress, needs? Right now, there is no other director who can be compared in terms of prestige and cinematic ancestry. Nolan has achieved, with only a dozen feature films in his filmography, to be crowned as the reference of the mainstream black label cinema, which maintains quality standards among most of the critics without giving up the spectacular and the pure experiential enjoyment that connect with a younger audience and unwilling to anything that involves using more than a couple of neurons. Something like a Michael Bay legitimized by “Cahiers du Cinema”, or a Stanley Kubrick that the teenagers bless in each of his premieres. A film director who seems to have been created in a laboratory from the ideal representation desired by any studio.
However, as if it were a fairy tale, although Christopher had it everything, he still lacked emotion. His films beat box office records, won prizes, were high by all and were part of the popular imagination. But some people kept telling him that they had no soul. “Inception” (2010) placed to the action thriller on the crest of the wave with its devilish game of dreams inside dreams. “Interstellar” (2014) was hailed as the best science fiction film since “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), in that comparison with Kubrick of which Nolan is so proud. And even the trilogy of “Dark Knight” (2005-2012) reinvented superhero movies and opened a new way that called into question the heroic role in postmodern society without abandoning pyrotechnics and visual effects.
But here it seemed that these films, despite being faultless in (almost) everything, didn’t make a single tear to the audience. Neither Leonardo DiCaprio remembers the lost love of Marion Cotillard nor Matthew McConaughey pressing the multidimensional strings to call his beloved Murph. In Nolan’s films there was that distancing that produces perfection. Because, in the end, what excites us is to see our imperfections and our contradictions reflected on the screen.
That is why, with “Dunkirk” has wanted to fix this issue forever. For the first time in his career, history cares almost nothing. It places the beginning of the film “in media res”, with no more explanation than lettering on a black background. Of the characters of the film we will know nothing, because more than people are archetypes, characters without background, whose only function in the plot is to represent the outdated and oldies heroic ideals that, once again, pretend to transmit through his cinema. And, beyond the undeniable visual packaging of the film, which immerses us totally immersed (never better said) in the agony of war, “Dunkirk” falls again with the whole team in the same mistake in which Nolan likes to fall: the inclusion of an (unnecessary) montage with several parallel timelines, the emotional underlining of the soundtrack by a Hans Zimmer more minimalist than other times but equally sullen and especially that inevitable need of the British director to explain through the dialogue the ideas that are already present in the image. And, if that were not enough, lapidary phrases as if they were taken from the first course of script study.
However, Nolan stumbles once more time on the same stone. The same that closed a great film like “The Prestige” (2006) of the way that all the magicians try to avoid. That is, explaining the trick. Because emotion is not a mathematical formula that results from the conjunction of image and sound, but its mechanisms are part of the mystique and mystery of the human being. So when Nolan has wanted to give emotion to his films he has done it in the most disgusting way possible: underestimating the public and their ability to understand the subtext. The one of falling once again in that ecumenical message of peace and love launched with so much intensity that ends up being laughable. And, surely, the ability to move without apparently pretending is what differentiates good films like “Dunkirk” from the true masterpieces.
Keep trying, Christopher.
Traducido por: Eduardo Llorente.
Our rating: (2/5)