Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

DUNKIRK

“Nolan’s vision is rich in both feel and flow. A most visceral and enthralling effort…”

Wayward Wolf.

Hans Zimmer has a film soundtrack CV as long as your arm. For many years now he has been one of the go-to Hollywood composers – very much a Jerry Goldsmith of his time in that respect. Revered, and rightly so, for both the impact and the prolificacy of his work.

His soundtrack for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, is arguably his crowning achievement to date.

It’s a quite astonishing effort, in fact. Admirable for its simplicity, yet breathtakingly tense and evocative in its impact. An unremitting soundscape that compliments perfectly a film that is essentially one elongated action scene.

All too rare is it that a soundtrack forms the most prominent, pivotal aspect of a film, but Hans Zimmer’s repetitive score is absolutely integral here, forming an almost symbiotic relationship with Director, Christopher Nolan’s epic war film.

The sound of a ticking timepiece and the insistent chugging of outboard motors on a plethora of fishing boats, form something of a sonic metronomic device – the very crux of Zimmer’s score. These are then mimicked instrumentally through accelerating and decelerating orchestral tremolos and staccato passages of varying intensity. Eerie chromatic glissando string lines are then weaved in and out on top of this, morphing at times into the unsettling sound of German dive bombers and the like.

It’s breathtaking, sensational stuff.

But whilst Zimmer’s score no doubt enhances the entire cinematic experience greatly, it’s not to take away from the nuts and bolts of the film itself. Nolan’s vision is rich in both feel and flow. A most visceral and enthralling effort charting the progress (or rather lack of), of a desperate band of thousands of men and boys, stranded on the beaches of Northern France, embroiled in a desperate game of survival – sitting ducks to wave upon wave of enemy fire.

Whilst we can rightly point to the on-screen presence and qualities of Kenneth Brannagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and not to forget a particularly measured, yet heroic performance from spitfire pilot, Tom Hardy, Dunkirk is not a film of star names or star turns. There is little by way of character development here, and in this instance, that’s not a bad thing, almost as though to emphasise the point that all of these allied soldiers, no matter their rank or background, were mere numbers here facing the same grim uncertainty.

Nolan’s direction is both strong and purposeful but never overly-indulgent, and never distracts from the film’s core theme and message.

Once again though it’s Zimmer’s score which takes centre stage, having the last, glorious word when the tide of events finally turns in the Allies’ favour, with a stripped down, minimalistic interpretation of Elgar’s Nimrod.

It’ll have the hairs raised on the backs of even the most peace-loving of non-patriotic pacifists.

Dunkirk is a very fine war film indeed. A brilliant, big screen contemporary re-imagining of one of the most significant episodes of World War II, conveying, without the need for overly-gratuitous violence, a most harrowing vision of war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FILM REVIEW: Interstellar

I’ve seen far-off planets, failing planets, new planets, star constellations and alternate universes.

I’ve witnessed black holes, worm holes and event horizons.

I’ve looked on in awe at mile-high tidal waves and vast dust storms sweeping mercilessly across American corn rows.

I’ve observed flying craft docking in deep outer-space and marvelled at mind-bending quantum physics.

I’ve seen astronauts struggle with matters of the heart, of life and death; the birth of new generations and the cryogenic preservation of the old…

…and on top of all of this, I’ve been vibrationally rattled to the back teeth by an impressive Odeon, IMAX sound system.

Yet somehow I still feel curiously dissatisfied?

But why?

Interstellar, incase you’ve been living on some far-away planet for the last few months, is a story of space exploration and an attempt to colonise new planets on which the human race can re-start; a situation brought about by the increasingly uninhabitable nature of planet earth.

Matthew McConnaughey puts in a heavyweight lead performance of some note and he’s well supported by Hollywood’s finest. Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Matt Damon and even the old master, Michael Caine all put in strong performances, key to Interstellar’s plot.

Special effects (achieved impressively without the use of CGi) are very special indeed; big, bold and convincing, yet still organic and with a very ‘real’ feel to them.

There’s a strong and distinct storyline and the dialogue is mercifully, relatively schmaltz-free and believable.

Indeed, there’s actually so much to admire about Interstellar and the hugely ambitious cinematic project that it undoubtedly is, but therein lies the problem; it actually feels simply too ambitious.

On the one hand we have a very human story of the tight bonds of family and of love and longing, whilst on the other (and at times it could be said, rather shoe-horned in), we have an improbable story of space adventure, discovery and a dabble into the world of quantum physics. Even if we suspend our disbelief for a moment and take the film on face value, for what it really is, Interstellar just doesn’t convincingly marry these two elements together; to my eyes at least.

That said, you can see what Christopher Nolan was trying to achieve and there are very definitely moments of great poignancy and emotion throughout, as well as a big, cinematic dose of the  ‘wow’ factor thrown in, as you might expect from a Christopher Nolan offering.

I have a hunch that Interstellar will actually improve through repeat watchings. It’s certainly the sort of film that would benefit from it, if only to fully comprehend and appreciate some of the more complex, scientific concepts and ideas covered.

It’s a long film, yet strangely it never really allows us the ‘time and space’ to truly ponder and contemplate the enormity of the subject matter; instead we are whisked along in a fast and furious succession of thrills, spills and set pieces.

Credit to Nolan, he maintains this momentum throughout; no mean feat for a movie that clocks in at a bum-numbing 166 minutes, but it is at times somewhat at the expense of what is essentially a rather moving ‘human’ sub-plot.

I can’t help making comparisons with the 2013 film ‘Gravity’ which, whilst perhaps not being quite as ambitious, scientifically-speaking, was nevertheless a film that I feel was far more successful in blending the disparate aspects of space adventure with matters of the heart and resulted in a film that simply worked, from start to finish.

It is of course not a sci-fi competition though and I’d urge anyone to go and see Interstellar; you’d actually be missing out if you didn’t.

It’s a very enjoyable three hours or so and a lot of love and dedication has been put into its creation, that much is obvious; just don’t be expecting the hollywood classic that it’s been painted out to be…

…it isn’t.