Dunkirk zooms out from the individual tragedies of war and focuses on the wide-scale disregard for human life which war itself leads to. It would have been easy for Nolan to drop in a few conversations between Whitehead and Styles about their families back home, a crush they want to propose to when they return, or some other war-time cliché, but he avoids this like the plague. He decides instead to keep the movie cold and detached.
Those who say there is an archetypally British radical tradition in our history from the Diggers to Dunkirk are stretching it. But Dunkirk is still our story - a strange, multi-layered and defiant story - and is worth preserving for radicals as much as for anyone.
The Indians who fought in Dunkirk deserve their own film. The soldiers caught and held by the Japanese for years under brutal torture deserve their own film. Fitting them into Nolan's Dunkirk would simply have turned them into token gestures there to appease our liberal consciences and achieve nothing more.
If Dunkirk and the Second World War proves anything it is that European disintegration and nationalism is a disaster waiting to happen, one in which the working class is guaranteed to suffer disproportionately.
Glorious isolationism? Studying history, science, nature, anything, you will look hard to find anything or anyone that is not connected to something or someone else, and instead works in isolation, going it alone.
For the first time since summer blockbuster season began in May, not a single franchise installment or well-trod adaptation