Dunkirk Rhetorical Analysis

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Rhetorical Techniques in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk
In the heart-pounding symphony of chaos that is Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan masterfully portrays the urgency, bravery, and emotions of those involved in the evacuation of 338,000 trapped British and French soldiers from the beaches of France. Nolan’s cinematic masterpiece combines the battle on land, sea, and air while heavily relying on the rhetorical strategies of weaving, kairos, and pathos. In this essay, I will perform a rhetorical analysis of Dunkirk and argue that Nolan’s use of rhetorical techniques is crucial in conveying the raw emotions of urgency, fear, and claustrophobia as evidenced by Nolan’s use of non-linear storytelling, the theme of time, and the depiction of space. To …show more content…

This is masterfully done throughout the many scenes which utilize a seemingly large space with endless restrictions. As stated in the paper Creating Claustrophobia in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, fear and discomfort are depicted by “contrasting the appearance of spaces and the experiences of characters.” The ground scenes exemplify the contrast as the allied soldiers are on a wide-open beach which should offer them a great sense of freedom, but they are stuck, surrounded by the enemy, and trapped with no way to return home which creates a sense of claustrophobia. By the same token, the spitfire pilots are also faced with a stark contrast between the appearance of a vast and empty sky, with small cockpits and limited fuel tanks. These restrictions end up entrapping the characters, as one pilot named Collins is forced to perform a water landing in the English Channel but is unable to exit the cockpit. He desperately tries to break the glass with little success as water comes rushing in. This strong contrast between the vastness of the air and the ocean to the confined cockpit demonstrates Nolan’s use of pathos as he attempts to appeal to the audience’s sense of fear and dread by inducing a sense of claustrophobia into the audience. All in all, Nolan’s use of pathos is crucial to the story as it helps the audience understand the various emotions and challenges that the soldiers are facing throughout the

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