Which leads me to a big problem I had with his latest film Dunkirk, a bloodless war film that jumped around three storylines each operating on different lengths of time; one story lasted a week, another during an entire day and the third over the course of an hour. Here is a case where a filmmaker should've abandoned his signature nonlinear flair (or maybe it is an obsession) and just told the story straight. Even though Dunkirk is one of the shorter Nolan films in terms of running time, it feels like it goes on for a frustrating forever. The way it jumps around timelines -- and therefore perspectives -- becomes more distracting than it does illuminating. By operating outside of a beginning-to-end timeline told in real time, a lot of the drama, power and excitement gets lost in all the post production pyrotechnics (and not to mention the blow-your-fucking-ears-out sound design).
As an experiment, I took a few sequences from Dunkirk and employed Mike Figgis' design from his groundbreaking 2000 film Timecode. In Timecode, Figgis told four 93-minute stories in four simultaneous one-shot takes and had them all play in frames next to each other onscreen. Therefore, I tried to emulate a similar sort of symphony that Timecode achieves, where certain perspectives eventually cross paths, leading us to see how specific moments play out and how they affect different people.
How does Dunkirk in Real Time play for you? Does it achieve more of a visceral impact? Do you feel like you're actually watching a film where something is really at stake? Leave your comments below.