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Hans Zimmer's DUNKIRK


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This approach to wanting films to be almost ascetic in their storytelling, or that those kind of films are somehow "purer," is such horse crap to me.  These are tricks that storytellers have been usin

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53 minutes ago, filmmusic said:

 


Don't agree with this at all.  I feel the score is a paradigm of contemporary film music trends, it has all the best of this new wave and none of the worst.  Do think there could have been a few moments of silence, though.

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6 hours ago, TheGreyPilgrim said:

 


Don't agree with this at all.  I feel the score is a paradigm of contemporary film music trends, it has all the best of this new wave and none of the worst.  Do think there could have been a few moments of silence, though.

 

I think the score is fine, but it isn't the masterpiece that some of the critics have been raving about. I think the biggest point the author missed is that Nolan wanted this film to be a one-dimensional experience. He specifically wanted this film to be intense and to show how soldiers act and react in that intense bubble. Honestly that it. 

 

I do think that there is some merit in the idea that silence could speak louder than music in some scenes and that this movie could potentially work without the score. 

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Saw it in IMAX. yeah it was one of the loudest movie I ever saw too.

 

For some reason Assassin's Creed was very loud too,

 

BFG was one of the  lowest volume movie I ever saw at the cinema. I could barely hear anything including the score

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3 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

 

Sure, I not sure I see the value in doing something like that. 

Perhaps Thor, Karol or TGP will explain it to me?

Well... by trying to create more visceral experience and by stripping it down off any "genre" or "movie" elements it was meant to give you an experience of "being there" rather than making any sort of political statements or bird view observations. So in a way you have to appreciate that it's good Nolan isn't trying to manipulate you into making any sort of predetermined conclusions (a cardinal sin committed by most historical films). But by doing that, you can possibly alienate a lot of the audiences as well. Such is the risk I guess.

 

Karol

 

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Makes sense. Though that only makes the patriotic ending more detached, IMO.

 

I do believe film making as all about manipulation though. It's annoying and bothersome when it's cloying or obvious (which Spielberg is sometimes guilty of). But if you're staring at a screen for two or three hours it is helpful if the director gives you a little something. Some little reason to make it worth your while that you're watching something.

 

I honestly didnt mind Dunkirk. But I see no reason to watch it ever again.

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The thing about Nolan, and I assume the most divisive aspect of his work, is that he is a mainstream director with some arthouse pretension. I'm not making a claim he is sophisticated just stating he has a tendency to inject his work with some elements that are often associated with so-called "high-brow" cinema (for what it's worth). And those types of film often don't offer you any guidance. I'm not saying Dunkirk is a great work of art but at least it's refreshing to see a war film that doesn't resemble some sort of propaganda piece from 1940's. American Sniper, I'm looking at you.

 

But I largely agree with you on the ending. It does break that illusion somewhat. I think it was largely meant to bring some sort of closure to characters, not so much a patriotic swell, but still felt bit off.

 

Karol

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[Gets on soap box]

 

I'm sure Nolan put a lot of reseach into this and it may actually be possible that the way he depicted the events is quite true to live. And if you're a British squadie sitting on that beach waiting for rescue after probably weeks of fighting, stress, little food, sleep deprivation etc and you see the ship that just picked up a load of people go down you're in a living hell. I would certainly never dare to disparage either the people who fought at Dunkirk or the civilians who risked their lives to get them home.

 

However if you're stiiting in a theatre munching popcorn is is IMPOSSIBlE to experience things the same way as it went in real live. Regardless of 65mm camerwork, Dolby Atmos etc etc. that's why movies often exaggerate either the details or the scope of films that are based on real live events. 

 

When it's done poorly it's bothersome, manipulative and cloying, but when it's done right it can really help to pull the viewer in.

 

Nothing wrong with a little manipulation.

 

[Gets of soap box]

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1 minute ago, BloodBoal said:

So, did anyone come up with an explanation as to why Hardy's character didn't eject himself from the spitfire at the end of the film, other than to offer a "rousing moment" with him perfectly landing the plane on the beach, only to burn it afterwards?

Art, man!

 

Karol

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25 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

So, did anyone come up with an explanation as to why Hardy's character didn't eject himself from the spitfire at the end of the film, other than to offer a "rousing moment" with him perfectly landing the plane on the beach, only to burn it afterwards?

 

The British didn't develop rescue at sea methods until summer of 1941 I believe. 

 

If he had ejected over the channel there's a good chance he'd have drowned/tied of thirst.

 

Then again, there were a lot of boats around so he'd probably have been grand. 

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54 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

So, did anyone come up with an explanation as to why Hardy's character didn't eject himself from the spitfire at the end of the film, other than to offer a "rousing moment" with him perfectly landing the plane on the beach, only to burn it afterwards?

 

It was done for the drama because a spitfire pilot I read said in reality the undercarriage wheels on those planes would collapse into the sand and that the pilot would know to bring the thing down in that situation without the wheels deployed. But then we wouldn't have had the cheesy suspense device of that final descent as Hardy struggled to get them down, the Dunkirk tension device equivalent of the car ignition which won't start in teenage horror movies.

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45 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

[Gets on soap box]

 

I'm sure Nolan put a lot of reseach into this and it may actually be possible that the way he depicted the events is quite true to live. And if you're a British squadie sitting on that beach waiting for rescue after probably weeks of fighting, stress, little food, sleep deprivation etc and you see the ship that just picked up a load of people go down you're in a living hell. I would certainly never dare to disparage either the people who fought at Dunkirk or the civilians who risked their lives to get them home.

 

However if you're stiiting in a theatre munching popcorn is is IMPOSSIBlE to experience things the same way as it went in real live. Regardless of 65mm camerwork, Dolby Atmos etc etc. that's why movies often exaggerate either the details or the scope of films that are based on real live events. 

 

When it's done poorly it's bothersome, manipulative and cloying, but when it's done right it can really help to pull the viewer in.

 

Nothing wrong with a little manipulation.

 

[Gets of soap box]

 

Exactly this. No matter the authenticity on display the audience knows it's a bunch of actors and a work of fiction. Save for actual footage everything else has to work to elicit some kind of response from the viewer, and Nolan's approach was to just monotonously lay all the images out in front of us, in ardent avoidance of anything resembling "manipulation", as if that's a bad thing. 

 

Not that I trust Nolan to be able to execute it even if he embraced manipulation. The sequence on the snowy mountain in Inception remains one of the most listless and boring action sequences I've seen. 

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1 hour ago, Stefancos said:

[Gets on soap box]

 

I'm sure Nolan put a lot of reseach into this and it may actually be possible that the way he depicted the events is quite true to live. And if you're a British squadie sitting on that beach waiting for rescue after probably weeks of fighting, stress, little food, sleep deprivation etc and you see the ship that just picked up a load of people go down you're in a living hell. I would certainly never dare to disparage either the people who fought at Dunkirk or the civilians who risked their lives to get them home.

 

However if you're stiiting in a theatre munching popcorn is is IMPOSSIBlE to experience things the same way as it went in real live. Regardless of 65mm camerwork, Dolby Atmos etc etc. that's why movies often exaggerate either the details or the scope of films that are based on real live events. 

 

When it's done poorly it's bothersome, manipulative and cloying, but when it's done right it can really help to pull the viewer in.

 

Nothing wrong with a little manipulation.

 

[Gets of soap box]

I don't know, IMAX really did enhance the experience in a ways I did not expect.

 

And I say that as someone who has seen several of his films in IMAX (more than once as well).

 

Karol

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2 hours ago, crocodile said:

The thing about Nolan, and I assume the most divisive aspect of his work, is that he is a mainstream director with some arthouse pretension. I'm not making a claim he is sophisticated just stating he has a tendency to inject his work with some elements that are often associated with so-called "high-brow" cinema (for what it's worth). And those types of film often don't offer you any guidance. I'm not saying Dunkirk is a great work of art but at least it's refreshing to see a war film that doesn't resemble some sort of propaganda piece from 1940's. American Sniper, I'm looking at you.

 

But I largely agree with you on the ending. It does break that illusion somewhat. I think it was largely meant to bring some sort of closure to characters, not so much a patriotic swell, but still felt bit off.

 

Karol

 

I think American Sniper is an infinitely better directed and more sober war film. Tension comes through the staging of the scenes - not through hectic editing and a relentless score. And it ends on such a bummer, not with a triumph.

 

I know many people see it as red meat but it is anything but. It is still an extremely well made film that is a more measured war film and isn't reliant on suspence and action to move the story forward.

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1 hour ago, Stefancos said:

 

Maybe, but what's the value of a film that you NEED to see in IMAX?

 

Seeing 2001: ASO on a giant screen apparently enhances the experience too. Many devoted fans say that if you only seen it on a TV then you haven't seen it at all.

 

Maybe this is what reverend crocs is referring too?

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The Vic Armstrong-helmed action pieces from the Brosnan era are generally flat and uninspired, but the Willy Bogner/John Glen stuff in OHMSS for example (Nolan's model for the Inception sequence) stands the test of time amazingly well. Those old pros knew what they were doing.

 

 

 

 

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I think you can have a stripped down experience while still including some catharsis, or manipulation, if you like, which to me was what the ending montage was about.  And it fit, I think, precisely because it wasn't the "real" Elgar, it wasn't Churchill reading his own words in front of a crowd, and it didn't flash a bunch of newspaper headlines about heroic deeds done in battle. 

 

The characters have been on the run, done some cowardly and selfish things, and I think the moment of realization on the Moonstone by the cliffs that "we let them all down" is enough to tie the earlier stuff together in a way that sets up the welcome they get regardless as being a moving emotional payoff. 

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Isn't it possible for pilots who ditched in the English channel to have swam back to shore?  People swim the frigid waters from the Farallon islands to San Francisco which is 30 miles in Pacific waters with strong exposed ocean currents and the water temperature is equivalent. 

 

According to the English Channel Swimming Association, English Channel water temperature can vary from 59°F (15°C) at the end of June, increasing to 64/65°F (18°C) by the beginning of September.  San Francisco ocean beach temp ranges from 64/65°F (18°C) to 54 so comparable.

 

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-woman-is-first-to-swim-from-Farallones-to-6433522.php

 

It seems if your choice is death or at least attempting a swim back, you have good motivation to make the swim.

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22 hours ago, TheGreyPilgrim said:

I think you can have a stripped down experience while still including some catharsis, or manipulation, if you like, which to me was what the ending montage was about.  And it fit, I think, precisely because it wasn't the "real" Elgar, it wasn't Churchill reading his own words in front of a crowd, and it didn't flash a bunch of newspaper headlines about heroic deeds done in battle. 

 

The characters have been on the run, done some cowardly and selfish things, and I think the moment of realization on the Moonstone by the cliffs that "we let them all down" is enough to tie the earlier stuff together in a way that sets up the welcome they get regardless as being a moving emotional payoff. 

I agree with all of this and I think it's why the ending Nolan made worked so well. The film had such a narrow focus and I think widening the perspective at the end--which is what I think the "real" Elgar or Churchill would have done--would have been a misstep. I didn't expect there to be any sense of emotional release, but he made some good choices for the end of this one (and I really admired Wallfisch's handling of Elgar there too, even though I could have used less music throughout as a general rule).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has this old article been posted here yet?

 

Ticking Watch. Boat Engine. Slowness. The Secrets of the ‘Dunkirk’ Score.

 

I find this Zimmer quote really interesting regarding the slowed-down "Nimrod" arrangement:

 

Quote

By making the notes so long, the bow isn’t long enough to play [them]. The way around it is to let each player independently play the note — come in, come out. It gives it a beautiful text, like looking across that beach and you pick out the individual amid the mass of faces ... Usually in a piece of music, you don’t ever expose the player playing one note. Most pieces of music are rushing from one chord to the next. But there’s something very interesting about giving the listener a moment.

 

Ever since I first heard "Home" and "Variation 15," I had been drawn in by the way Wallfisch and co. gave the listener time to savor each note, let the sounds blend together, drifting in an ethereal haze. The original Elgar piece moves much faster, and I think what the composers did here was great, the transition into the Elgar in "Home" with the ticking being particularly sublime. 

 

So it's really cool to see an explanation for that ethereal "blending" feeling. 

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Finally saw the film the other day; before going in I was sceptical of the hype as is usually the case with Nolan's last films, and exited the theatre in a positive mood. The film was fantastic, just like Saving Private Ryan's kind of blunt look at the reality of warfare in a believable way, Dunkirk pulls that off without the sanctimonious Spielbergian framing.

 

At first I found Zimmer's score almost contradictory to the visuals, as if the music was actively working against them - especially in the earlier scenes. Over the course of the film it becomes harsh and unrelenting and I think I share the sentiments of others when I say Zimmer's score is effectively sound design, married with the visuals it's perfect. I wasn't aware of the original Elgar piece, so after the film it was strange to discover that the variations of the theme throughout the score weren't composed by Zimmer! 

 

As sound design I think it prospers, as a score I don't think I'd listen to it removed from the context of the film.

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Well it's more in the traditional kind of playing at the heartstrings and definitely more patriotic a portrayal. 

 

I love Saving Private Ryan, maybe even more than I do for Dunkirk, I also understand the two films have two different perspectives...

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The earnestly read Lincoln letters, Tom Hanks' quintessential Blue Collar Fella, the white bread, 2.5 children family visiting memorials with their revered patriarch who has lived a good life... I wouldn't call it sanctimonious exactly, but in true Spielberg fashion it is all very there.  The Churchill speech reading and Mark Rylance's Englishman are certainly along the same lines but seem nowhere near as dourly presented.  

 

SPR is the kind of film that makes you feel like not reacting in just the right way could offend the sensibilities of people around you.  It demands you to behold its patriotic rightness!

 

Not that there's anything wrong with any of this, it's just Spielberg's way.  Maybe it's easier to stomach for the non Americans, and Dunkirk is eye rollingly patriotic to the Brits?  Could be how it works.

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9 minutes ago, TheGreyPilgrim said:

 

...I wouldn't call it sanctimonious exactly, but in true Spielberg fashion it is all very there.  The Churchill speech reading and Mark Rylance's Englishman are certainly along the same lines but seem nowhere near as dourly presented.  

 

SPR is the kind of film that makes you feel like not reacting in just the right way could offend the sensibilities of people around you.  It demands you to behold its patriotic rightness!

 

Not that there's anything wrong with any of this, it's just Spielberg's way.  Maybe it's easier to stomach for the non Americans, and Dunkirk is eye rollingly patriotic to the Brits?  Could be how it works.

Yes, I think that's more like what I was trying to get at.

 

I love Spielberg's direction and handling of the subject, but I think Dunkirk let's the viewer react without being guided by a strong patriotic precedent. It isn't as patriotic in the broad strokes that SPR can present. 

 

As you say TGP, that patriotic angle works in SPR in a way it might not for Dunkirk.

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J. Patrick McNamara said it right, in CE3K: "These are ordinary people, under extraordinary circumstances".

That is what Spielberg, the filmmaker, is so very good at: making us care for the ordinary Joe.

I've not seen DUNKIRK, so I am unable to comment on its merits, but if it's as intense as its OST suggests, then it stands to be a visceral experience. Perhaps that's the thing that sets Nolan and Spielberg apart: the former will go for the throat and the mind, while the latter will always go for the heart.

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2 hours ago, Arpy said:

Well it's more in the traditional kind of playing at the heartstrings and definitely more patriotic a portrayal. 

 

 

Definitely. These aspects of the film are more uncomfortably digested for anyone living outside of the US, myself included. But in the end I accept it because it is an American POV story, I'm not offended by that like others often are. I was just wondering about your terminology, because it wasn't really accurate but never mind, I get you now.

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Both films work wonders with their respective portrayal of the war. 

 

I don't really have much of a problem with the patriotism either, and it isn't too much for me. I spent most of my formative years in Britain where a nationalistic perception is maintained, and respectfully so around the war, as it is in my home country of Australia. I guess in the U.S. it might be that extra sense of patriotism that borders on blind faith and jingoism that can make it uncomfortable, and that naturally is different for many people. 

 

All in all, you weren't wrong for calling me out on my phrasing and word choice, I think in the moment I posted I didn't find a more suitable expression to what I was trying to suggest.

 

My bad!

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, watched the movie. Loved it. The soundtrack was adroit. Being a big WW2 buff it nailed the soundscape and tension I expect in a faceless war, where you are being hounded by terrible machines, surrounded by a place that isn't home, and by people you don't really know. 

 

But it was a non-envelope pushing score for Zimmer. Technically really well executed, but nothing bold or different. 

 

Yes, it's more sound design than music, but we've been getting this kind of music for over a decade in video games now. @TheGreyPilgrim, what is your apology or rationalization on behalf of Zimmer?

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On 8/3/2017 at 11:25 AM, karelm said:

Isn't it possible for pilots who ditched in the English channel to have swam back to shore?  People swim the frigid waters from the Farallon islands to San Francisco which is 30 miles in Pacific waters with strong exposed ocean currents and the water temperature is equivalent. 

 

According to the English Channel Swimming Association, English Channel water temperature can vary from 59°F (15°C) at the end of June, increasing to 64/65°F (18°C) by the beginning of September.  San Francisco ocean beach temp ranges from 64/65°F (18°C) to 54 so comparable.

 

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-woman-is-first-to-swim-from-Farallones-to-6433522.php

 

It seems if your choice is death or at least attempting a swim back, you have good motivation to make the swim.

 

Can you run 26 miles today, without any warning? On top of that, let me beat your whole body up with 4-6 Gs (if you weigh 140 pounds, try feel like 560-840 pounds) of force during WWII dogfights, then we'll see how far you can run on nice comfortable land, let alone water. 

 

The people who make those swims train and train, they have a good night's rest, they eat a good meal, mentally prepare, and then dive in. 

 

2 hours ago, TheGreyPilgrim said:

It wasn't a big new idea, no.  Just one of the best examples of this sort of thing I've ever heard. 

 

He's certainly come far since the blips and blops of Crimson Tide! 

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