Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dunkirk - A Review

Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk
(Source)
No spoilers here...

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when the movie began. The trailers I'd watched beforehand made me want to see this movie very badly. But is it an action movie? Is it a standard war movie? Is it historically accurate?

It's not really an action movie. Though there is action, there is combat, there is suffering, there is death.

It's not a standard war movie. Though war is at its the heart. There is confusion, there is noise, there is heroism, there is cowardice.

The suspense in the movie is palpable. It's not so much the action on the screen as the anticipation of what might happen next. Who will, or who won't survive?

As to its historical accuracy? Well, I might have a quibble here and there, but for this amateur historian there were enough "nicely done" touches in the film to make me ignore whatever quibbles I might have had.

After all, the event was over 77 years ago. (Getting the right equipment would be daunting after all these years.) The filmmakers did, in my estimation, a superb job of portraying the events on those beaches in the late spring of 1940. This is a powerful film for me as a student of those times. It brought the events to life, it brought the participants to life. Cowards, heroes, people just doing their jobs, trying to do their bit.

And sometimes paying the ultimate price.

Will the movie-going public embrace this film? I don't really know. I hope so. Films like this are few and far between.

The film left me thoughtful and with a deeper appreciation for what good people are capable of in bad times.

See it.

Tom Hardy in Dunkirk
(
Source - Screen Capture)



42 comments:

  1. A Sarge thunbs up is good enough for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would like your expert analysis of the flying sequences (of which there were a lot). I thought they were well done.

      Delete
    2. Just as long as you don't question the laws of physics or survival ; )

      Though it was beautiful.

      Delete
  2. I was tilting that way already... this makes it certain.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw it with my family last night. I thought they could have done a better job of putting the battle and evacuation into better context. Answering simple questions such as "What is the battle of Dunkirk about?" Who were the participants? How did it come to be that that so many men needed to be evacuated? Instead, they left it to the viewer to more or less piece these things together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair points Bill. I didn't ask those questions, nor look for them in the film, because I know where Dunkirk fits in the bigger scheme of things. Your average movie audience probably does not. Alas, most folks are fairly ignorant of history.

      The collapse of France in 1940 needs a movie all its own. Maybe two, it's a very complex topic.

      Delete
    2. Hopefully some viewers will be prompted to look it up and learn about the battle's historical significance.

      Delete
    3. One can hope Bruce, one can hope.

      Delete
    4. Hope indeed. I rather felt that way about the movie 'Pearl Harbor'. Over dramatized? Oh my. Alec Baldwin as Jimmy Doolittle? Please. I could go on. However, if it gives the younger generation a moment of pause to stop and wonder, to think that maybe those crazy stories they heard about Gramps were true, then I'm for it. For me, this scene from 'Band of Brothers' nails it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aMnxQjDGDU

      Damn dust.

      'Dunkirk' is now on 'must see' list.

      Delete
  4. There is confusion, there is noise, there is heroism, there is cowardice. Ok, and there's the smell, but you don't get that on the silver screen - but you never forget the smell either.

    That's war. Thanks for the review. I'll make sure that I see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The smell, aye.

      I will be interested in your thoughts on the film LL.

      Delete
  5. As others have said, thank you for the feedback/review. Good enough for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is the review I hoped to hear. I never trust the movie critics, I prefer the word of mouth reviews from someone I do trust. I had Kendy convinced to go see it today but she's really having a bad day and has retired to bed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let her rest. The movie's still going to be there when she's ready to go see it.

      Give her my best!

      Delete
  7. Let's be thankful that Hitler was in charge. If the Nazis had a competent leader this could have been a crippling defeat.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just got back from seeing it. Sarge's recommendation is Spot ON! Well worth seeing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Since it's history, no real spoilers to be given, but thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the movie review post. I'll look for it when it comes out on DVD. I'm not sure that it will even play in the SJW area in which I live. Even if were to be shown here, I would not like to be in a theater with the people from around here.

    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
  11. Enjoyed it, thankful it was made. Glad to support it on opening night. May there be many more equal or better caliber.

    Asked my 28yr old daughter what she and her husband thought of it (me thinking they wouldn't have a good idea about the history of it). Her reply probably typical of a generation not steeped in the history of WWII like ours,
    "Not as much plot as we thought. Just about evacuation. We didn't know the plot going into it tho anyway. Acting and cinematography was good just a lil slow plot"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plot?

      Hitler wants to conquer the world.

      He didn't. Lots of people sacrificed everything they had to stop him.

      Plot...

      Sigh.

      Delete
    2. Brilliant synopsis, Sarge. If it didn't happen to you, it didn't happen. That's my interpretation of ""Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana

      Delete
  12. Where are the african americans? Where are the women? More importantly, where are the French and the Russians?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4720292/Sacre-bleu-French-Russians-angry-Dunkirk-film.html

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/831820/Dunkirk-film-world-war-two-French-fury-criticism-British-Harry-Styles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eff the French and the bloody Russians as well. This film is NOT for them.

      If the bloody French hadn't totally effed the campaign and if the bloody Russians hadn't sided with Hitler there would have been no need of a Dunkirk.

      (There were nurses, most of whom drowned when the Luftwaffe sank their hospital ship and there was at least one black soldier in a French uniform. Just to keep the record straight.)

      Tongue in cheek, I know, but there are times the French and the Russkis piss me off.

      Delete
    2. The amusing thing is that the French and Russians are following the lead of the American media. Which is a lot like relying on the Maginot Line and siding with Hitler. Which is why Brexit, why the 'merkin media is dying, why the gop and dnc are imploding, why hope and change isn't working any better for for MAGA than for whatshisname, and why Americans are increasingly returning to the fold of the founders.

      Delete
    3. And those are good, nay, great things!

      Delete
    4. French troops were busy holding the front so Brits coudl evacuate, many others did join the evacuation. After the fall of France, some joined the Free French, others were repatriated. French generals though were complete disaster. I advise a good read on the French effort and downfall in 1940: https://www.amazon.com/France-1940-Defending-Philip-Nord/dp/0300189877 I think France is quite better in general military history than its nadir in that summer of 1940. It took 2-3 more years until Aliies learned how to beat Germans in their own game.
      Russians were busy selling Germans oil that powered the Stukas and Panzers. Year later they would be selling it until first panzers roll thru the border into Soviet Union itseldf... Oh and some NKVD thughs were busy executing Polish POWs.

      Delete
    5. I remember the zbrodnia katyńska, the massacre in the Katyn Forest and other locations where over 21,000 Poles were murdered by the NKVD. The crimes of the Soviets need to be remembered alongside those of the Nazis.

      Thanks for the book tip Paweł!

      Delete
  13. Amen. Where were they? They were NOT THERE. This film is about that time and that place. And plot? The plot continues for all of us. To coin a phrase, "If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a veteran.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Just saw it in IMAX and my nech aches. If going to an IMAX viewing make sure you get your ticket a day in advance and not end up in the 3rd row seat staring up at the 6 story screen ;-) Bill made some good points but for many of us we already know what Dunkirk was about.

    I thought the movie was masterfully done. I was struck by how little dialogue there actually was. There are 3 separate stories told simultaneously; from a Spitfire pilot's perspective; the owner of a small civilian boat coming to the rescue; and of course a soldier on the beach.

    And with this minimalist dialogue it is as if you the viewer are a participant and not just a viewer.

    It is certainly one of the better movies I have seen in the last few years...


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great synopsis. Some didn't care for Nolan's handling of the timeline. While I found it disconcerting at first, once I realized what the director was doing, it worked. At least I thought so. It interweaved the story lines nicely.

      You forgot the RN Commander (Kenneth Branagh) on the Mole. His story line was also key, at least I thought so. Made what was happening on the Mole clearer, at least to me. One ship at a time. I just read that piece of the story today.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for the review. I haven't been to a movie in a while, but you convinced me to go.

    I liked the movie a lot, but the backstage critic in me wouldn't shut up about some things. Some of the Bf-109 combat maneuvers seemed a bit leisurely. I agree that the interweaving of the time lines seemed odd until I got the "One Hour," "One Day," "One Week" bit. I didn't see the reason for the part where the troops sheltered in the trawler. It didn't add much to the story. Better if they had told some of the story AROUND the perimeter, where the holding action was going on.

    I think my main complaint is that the evacuation lasted more than a week, but if you take the movie at face value, nobody made it out until the very end. Maybe the point was to show that poor sad sack kept trying to escape and never gave up, but (knowing how it turned out) I felt frustrated that every ship seemed to end up going to the bottom.

    Well, bitch, bitch, bitch. It WAS a good movie. I liked it. Not a classic, maybe, but very good. Many of the air scenes were excellent. I thought the propaganda pamphlets were a great way to explain the situation to the audience. And it sure showed that there are many ways to get killed in a war.

    One funny thing: early on the flight leader seemed to be channeling Michael Caine in "Battle of Britain." Same exact voice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked it Bruce. I had some of the same quibbles but overall I REALLY enjoyed the film.

      I too liked the propaganda leaflets in the beginning. Those very leaflets were dropped by the Germans, I remember seeing a picture of one in a book a long time ago. Very nice touch.

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)