Under the Radar

Christopher Nolan's WWII Masterpiece 'Dunkirk' is Just as Great on Home Video


Director Christopher Nolan really wanted you to see "Dunkirk" (out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) in a large-screen format at a movie theater this past summer. Congratulations to you if you did, but the good news here is that the heart behind the spectacle translates to a smaller format. 

You should still try to see 2017's best military movie on the largest screen you have with a 4K TV and player if you've got access. It's a unique war movie, an immersive experience that concentrates on the experiences of the warriors on the ground, on the sea and in the air. There are no generals and no German soldiers. It's men fighting for survival as they attempt to retreat to safety. (For historical context and perspective on the state of the war, go to the movie theaters and see Gary Oldman play Churchill in "Darkest Hour.")

We've got a clip from the home video bonus features in which Nolan, his cast and crew talk about the director's determination to capture as much of the action in-camera rather than adding computer effects in post-production.

The home video release is loaded with almost two hours of documentary featurettes. Nolan didn't record a commentary track but there's an overwhelming amount of detail about the technical details of filming. It's a slice of film school on disc and absolute proof that Nolan is taking all the freedom his commercial success has bought and using it to push the technical limits of filmmaking. 

Nolan's fascination with puzzles and time-shifting is on full display here. He's telling three stories: he covers a week in the experiences of the men fighting on land, a full day in the sea rescue and an hour in the air war that took place over the beach. He cuts between the three stories throughout the movie until the stories converge at the end. It's disorienting and confusing, but the implication is that it's less confusing than the experiences of the men and women who are living through the experience as it happens.

The movie screened in theaters at different aspect rations for 35mm, IMAX and 70mm. Nolan chose to prepare the film for 4K UHD and Blu-ray by having the images shot in IMAX appear at 1.78:1 ratio, while scenes filmed with a Panavision 65 camera are show at 2:20:1 ratio. You may notice the different sizes at first but the movie takes over soon enough and you should stop noticing the shifts.

"Dunkirk" has been nominated for three Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director and Best Score. Hans Zimmer's incredible score, with its ticking clocks and use of the Shepard tone, should also be a shoo-in for an Oscar and "Dunkirk" will be a strong contender for Best Picture, Best Director and an overwhelming favorite in the technical categories.

"Dunkirk" is a great choice if you've got family visiting for the holidays. It's war movie that will mesmerize kids used to superhero movies and keep the adults fascinated.

ALSO: 'Dunkirk' Rethinks the War Movie: Historian Joshua Levine Shares His Experiences Working With Director Christopher Nolan  

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