Schmähkritik (650): Christopher Nolan und „Dunkirk“

„For Nolan, perhaps the last Tory propagandist in cinema, “society” and “the people” do not exist except as a mass to be manipulated, a paying audience. (…) “To trust chance is to hear voices,” Godard wrote, by which he meant the voices of other people. If Christopher Nolan hears any voice, it’s Margaret Thatcher’s from 1987. There is no notion, in the films of Nolan, that people may surprise you, perhaps with their intelligence or solidarity, and so no hope for chance. (…) Pitched as a craftsman, Nolan is more of an action technocrat. He transparently loathes his actors, whose lines are delivered with mumblecoreish unintelligibility and indifference—he believes it makes his films experimental. (…) His over-lauded non-chronological narratives, which are always rescued by semi-rhythmic editing, serve no artistic purpose, aside from reminding us that he has never seen a film by Alain Resnais. (…)
Entirely action, Dunkirk is boring to describe. Still: young soldiers, played by angelic actors, gather fearfully on a beach; Mark Rylance, played by Mark Rylance, readies his boat after a call is made for civilians to rescue soldiers by sea; Tom Hardy’s head is a fighter pilot who speaks by radio to the likewise disembodied voice of Michael Caine; Kenneth Branagh delivers truncated Shakespearean soundbites from a dock. (…)
Dunkirk is a work about World War II that contains no before and no after, in any respect; it considers only the battle itself in the form of pure combat. But it also has no before or after because it is a period film that lacks all memory, an act of craven presentism that aims to appropriate as a readymade an industry of war sentimentalism. (…) Nolan rips a historical episode from its context for spectatorial gain—to accentuate the immediate experience. And both examples ironize Nolan’s plan to remake Memento (2000), a film about a man who can’t remember. Maybe Nolan forgot he already made it. (…) But Dunkirk’s presentism means that it’s inadvertently a film about the present. It’s a Brexit movie: Nolan was adamant about casting actors exclusively from the British Isles; contemporary English icon Harry Styles offers a moment of light xenophobia when he argues that a Frenchman should be the first to die; the first spoken line of the film is “I’m English!” Curiously, Nolan has been applauded by critics for subtracting Nazi identity throughout—no German soldiers or German insignia are depicted—as if this abstracted enemy refashions history into a story of general human survival. But a faceless enemy means that anyone’s face can be inserted, a useful tactic in the buildup to war.“

(Jonathon Sturgeon in The Baffler)

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