Christopher Nolan directed the 2017 film “Dunkirk,” which features Hans Zimmer’s music. The film takes place in 1940 while British troops are being evacuated from France’s Dunkirk shoreline. The three settings—on land, at sea, and in the air—occur at various times during the course of the movie’s one-week running time. Non-diegetic sound and lighting are used by the movie to elicit various emotional reactions from the spectator.
The 1940 Dunkirk evacuations during World War 2 are the inspiration for the motion picture Dunkirk. It was filmed on the French beach where the actual evacuations happened, Dunkirk Beach. The failure of Britain to drive Germany out of France led to the evacuation. In an effort to defend France from Germany, the British army was forced into Belgium, where they encountered further German forces that were approaching from the north, and they ultimately had to retire to Dunkirk.
Throughout the entire film, Nolan employs the Shepherd tone to instil a sense of urgency and suspense in his audience. Three tones, each an octave apart, are used to create the non-diegetic auditory illusion known as the Shepard-tone, with the highest tone gradually fading out, the middle tone remaining constant, and the lowest tone gradually fading in. The result is that the listener hears an ascending tone that seems to never cease and accelerates with time. Hans Zimmer composed the Shepard-tone that is featured throughout Nolan’s other films, including “The Dark Knight” and “The Prestige,” which both use the Shepard tone. This method is employed throughout the film, especially in the moment when a German U-boat torpedoed the destroyer Tommy (a stereotypical British soldier) and his fellow soldiers are on. The use of Shepard-tone in this sequence creates a sense of dread and worry among the audience members as they wonder whether Tommy will survive as the ship begins to fill with water as we see him battle to stay afloat. The Shepard tone used in this movie amplifies the tension in every scene and prevents the audience from becoming complacent or forgetting the characters’ feelings of stress and danger. Although the streets are peaceful in the initial moments, the Shepard tone begins right away to warn us that the soldiers are not secure.
In order to evoke feelings of unease and worry in the audience, Nolan employs the sound of a ticking watch. In the air is one scenario where the sound of the ticking watch really stands out. The ticking of the watch alerts the audience that Farrier’s fuel and time are running low as the Spitfire pilot tries to estimate how much fuel is left in his aircraft. Christopher Nolan has used ticking as a non-diegetic sound in several of his other movies, such as “Dunkirk” and “Interstellar.” Non-Diegetic sound refers to sounds and noises that are utilised to depict the characters’ emotional states but that the spectator merely hears, with no awareness of the characters themselves. As the soldiers hurriedly scramble to leave the shore, the ticking watch symbolises the passing of time. Every second that goes by brings the Germans closer, making it more likely that they will capture or murder them the longer they remain on the shore. The watch is clearly ticking from the first scene and doesn’t stop until the final scene when Farrier runs out of fuel, never letting the audience forget how little time the soldiers have. The ticking of the watch is a very clear emblem of the notion of time that permeates “Dunkirk.” The viewer is kept on edge and concerned about what will happen to those on the beach by the notion that time is finite and passing quickly. The steady ticking clock, which was included by Nolan, prevents the audience from becoming complacent because it serves as a constant reminder that each second they waste brings them closer to death.
The audience feels uneasy and uneasy because of the usage of chilly, dull, and dark lighting. Different lighting is used in various scenarios to evoke various emotions. When Dunkirk or any surrounding regions are depicted, the lighting is drab and dreary, making everything appear to mix together. The frigid colour scheme gives these settings a desolate and anxious air. When we first see the beach in the opening scenes, this is extremely obvious. Throughout the entire film, the sky is dismal and overcast, representing the feelings of the stranded soldiers. The beach is made cold and unwelcoming by the use of dreary, grey lighting, conveying to the audience that the soldiers are in enemy territory and that the danger increases with each passing second. Desaturated lighting also demonstrates how for the guys stranded there, Dunkirk is nothing but death and destruction.
In conclusion, Christopher Nolan employs a variety of strategies in “Dunkirk” in order to elicit an emotional response from his viewers. These feelings range from relief and hope to fear and panic. Shepard-tone, non-diegetic sound, and lighting all have a significant impact on how viewers react to the picture and relate to its major themes. Time, terror, and survival are three of the movie’s primary themes, and these emotions are related to them as well. It is crucial for evoking emotions in the audience that we are constantly reminded of the issues at hand throughout the entire movie.