Once Tommy is set free, so is Nolan’s camera. After a cut, the camera catches him from the front, as Nolan toys with the illusion of digital compositing in the remarkable backtracking shot of Tommy racing away from the gate. The sharply etched, crystalline clarity of his figure, huge in the foreground as he runs toward us, looks as if it is overlaid on the images of the buildings he is passing, which, oddly, stay in odd focus as they recede. It’s not CGI nor back projection, but some kind of telephoto effect. Regardless, what we see is a conspicuously unnatural, virtuoso manipulation of the visual field. A few seconds later the camera switches to Tommy’s point of view as he slows at the sight of the expanding vista of a bright beach striated by long black files of soldiers, who scarcely move and do not make a sound. He is there. The town is behind him forever, and with it, all context for the main action (signaled clearly when, after he opens his great coat, crouches, and defecates, he wipes himself with the leaflet he had snagged ) . We have entered the slow time that the weary, desperate, silent soldiers endure as they wait for their unlikely deliverance. It is as if the men are so drained and traumatized that they haven’t the energy or capacity to speak. Suddenly, a cry — “ Dive Bombers !” — is followed by the sight and terrifying scream of Stukas, which scatter the men and force Tommy into the sand, until quiet returns, and with Tommy we watch a destroyer slowly sink.