If there is a criticism of director Christopher Nolan, it’s that his movies are mind-bending, beautiful, and masterfully edited — but often lack human heart. It’s not an inherently bad thing; it usually works in the context of the stories that Nolan likes to tell, but it does mean that there are moments in his movies that should feeling moving that come across as flat.
The high mark of one of these is the moment when Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard dies in The Dark Knight Rises — an awkwardly framed scene that is now infamous for being funny. The entire point of Inception was that Cobb’s emotions (his projection of his wife) were getting in the way of his work. It’s not hard to find the theme running through these movies.
It’s one of the reason why some people are a little worried about Dunkirk. We all know War Is Hell, and we’ve seen that play out a million times on screen. You can even get a good movie out of just showing that, but if you want to do more — if you want to ascend to greatness — you need to capture the human element of war. Playboy (via imgur) brought up the emotionless question, and Nolan had some thoughts on the matter:
“I try not to be obvious about it. That gives people a little more freedom to interpret the movies their way, bring what they want to it. I’ve had people write about my films as being emotionless, yet I have screened those same movies and people have been in floods of tears at the end. It’s an impossible contradiction for a filmmaker to resolve. In truth, it’s one of the things that is really exciting about filmmaking though. I seem to be making films that serve as Rorschach tests.”
That’s a good way to respond to the question, but while it might be true that people have cried during his films and that emotions are subjective, the theme of emotional stuntedness in his films is still present. Whether or not Nolan sees the theme or acknowledges it, even as gracefully as he did here, it’s still there — and it could keep this passion project of his from working.
Summary: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.
Dunkirk will be directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, and Mark Rylance. It will be released on July 21st.