The Daily Stream: Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk Is A Feast Of A Film That's Worth Revisiting

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Dunkirk"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix, HBO Max

The Pitch: Christopher Nolan's war epic takes place during the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II, when thousands of Allied soldiers were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk in the south of France. The troops were faced with a harrowing reality: they had been cut off and surrounded by German soldiers during the six-week Battle of France in 1940. Using very little dialogue, Nolan tells a visual story of the evacuation through the eyes of a group of young soldiers on land, two virtuous fighter pilots in the air, and a family man turned quiet vigilante on the sea.

Why it's essential viewing

When people say a movie is a feast, they're talking about a film that has all the fixings: a delicious main course, and dessert all rolled into one. In the world of a movie, those "foods" translate to impeccable acting, a tight and well-paced script, a compelling score and sound design, realistic and sweeping production design, or grand on-location vistas. It translates to how a film is framed and shot, and how all of these pieces weave together to form the final product: one that lights you up with the magic of its moment.

Though many wouldn't expect this kind of all-encompassing excitement for a war film, there's no denying that "Dunkirk" is a feast of a film in every sense of the word. The movie's script is sparse and makes use of dialogue when it'll hit the most, which is a tactic more filmmakers should try. It relies on its ability to show vastly, and not just tell the audience that the situation at Dunkirk was dire. Hans Zimmer's score is as boundless as any others he's done for Nolan, and the director adds to the atmospheric tone of that score with a really effective clock ticking noise throughout the film. It instantly raises the already-high stakes.

The movie was shot on-location in Dunkirk, so obviously the authenticity and realism of the production was heightened by the choice, and the film is a visual marvel as a result. Nolan's cinematographer, Hoyte van Hoytema, employs beautiful high-flying shots and staggering long takes focused on the actors to highlight the human element of the historical event while also paying homage to the land it took place on. Finally, the film is cinched together by its rich and emotional performances. The actors dive deep into the emotional life of what it means to face imminent death, and that's not an easy task. For them to represent it so beautifully — and without much dialogue at all — is a testament to the real Europeans who were directly affected by the events at Dunkirk beach. Put all those elements together and it's hard to deny the impulse to rewatch it, or even discover it for the first time. It's worth the two-hour investment, trust me.