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Dunkirk - just seen it

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by CBI, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. CBI

    CBI Practically Family

    Just came from the new Christopher Nolan “Dunkirk” film. “Interstellar" meets “The Battle of Britain” or “Inception” meets “A Bridge Too Far”. Strange bedfellows but it works. An excellent film in many ways. A very modern take for modern audiences on WW2. Probably the best depiction of WW2 air combat ever. No CGI, real panes, real ships, real gear. Some great Spitfire moments. A movie I would certainly see again. I think traditional WW2 fans expecting a traditional classic WW2 action film may be disappointed. In some ways, younger audiences might respond more/better to the modern voice/style of the film. There were no realism issues that bothered me although I give films a pretty wide berth. So, excellent (I was expecting a “Christopher Nolan” feel).

    Spoiler alert……………..yes, it IS him.
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  2. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Hmmm. I've seen some publicity stills of this film and the first thing I noticed was one of the soldiers appearing to be wearing a canvas 44 pattern respirator pouch!
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  3. galopede

    galopede One of the Regulars

    Going to see it next week. Main
    complaint here in Britain is that all the tin hats look far too pristine! I can live with that.

  4. I read one review that said it was too "stripped" of historical context / the WWII political - strategic perspective. What are your thoughts on that?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  5. CBI

    CBI Practically Family

    its all about the suspense of being there on the ground/at sea/in the air...........putting the viewer there. no overview/strategic perspective at all. the interviews with Nolan back this up. A great description is this is the WW2 movie Hitchcock never made. Stark, minimal dialogue, little character development. Mainly atmosphere and slow moving suspense. I did enjoy it.
    Fading Fast likes this.
  6. I had planned on seeing this tonight as I am on temporary duty away from home, and figured my wife would not want to see it.

    Mentioned this in a text to her, she said she iin fact was looking forward to it!

    So, will wait until RTU.
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  7. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Thought it was fantastic. Yes, there are historical issues - it suggests wrongly that the flotilla was responsible for lifting the majority of men off the beach, it really doesn't capture the chaos and thick canopy of smoke that enveloped the beach and Tom Hardy does seem to have limitless supplies of ammo - but I think it cuts right to the fear and desperation of the men trapped on the sand. See it on the largest screen, folks, it's the only way.
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  8. Can you provide sources in support? Every history I have read notes that the docks in Dunkirk were too damaged to be used, and so the two moles (sea walls) and the main beach were the embarkation points. As the water was too shallow for anything larger than a small ferry, most men were ferried off the beach by ferries and the other infamous "little ships" onto larger ships off shore.

    I have not seen the film and so do not know if it suggests the "little ships" actually took the bulk of the men back to England, or if all the little ships were depicted as small fishing boats and yachts (rather than larger ones such as ferries, fishing boats, etc.) but otherwise it is not the case I can see that large ships docked to embark the bulk of the troops.

    Again, have not seen the film, but also have not seen anything to suggest large ships docked in Dunkirk to take the bulk of the force back.
  9. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    The film introduces the flotilla, but goes little further than that, though the inference is that they saved the day, which they didn't. Here's the military historian James Holland's take on the film: http://www.griffonmerlin.com/2017/0...al&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
    His basic contention is that it's not busy or chaotic enough - in the film beach does look very sparse compared to contemporary depictions of it. I should add that I thought the film was fantastic and felt it really captured the terror of the beach.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
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  10. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    My take was that Dunkirk was more "The Dunkirk Experience" than a traditional movie. Not complaining; I think that was a very interesting idea and VERY ballsy. It drops you off at the beach en media rez and you figure it out as you go. It's not telling you the STORY. It's not about how the troops got there. It's not about what happened afterwards and it's barely about what happened on the beach. It's a set of fragments of several people's experience. It's almost a silent movie and it was made to be shown in a large format venue, to be all consuming and overwhelming. Yet a VERY tight set of goals.

    One critic commented that it's not a war movie, it's a horror movie. That's a great description. It's just visceral and it's very 20th century British; it doesn't buy into emotions. It's objective. Speilberg gives you the D-Day Experience by creating a scene that FEELS insane, chaotic; Saving Private Ryan puts you inside a mind struggling for control. Dunkirk is haunting in its ambivalence, but in some ways that makes you buy in MORE ... because you have a CHOICE. Those "objective aspects" are very like a David Lean - Robert Bolt movie. Don't get too close, trust the audience, don't make decisions for them. It's the circumstances, not the emoting, that bind you to it.

    That said, I'm fascinated by the choices. Why no history? Especially for a young audience of today. You could do an "Americans on D-Day" movie and not explain it ... most of those kids who fought there had no idea what to expect. The Brits at Dunkirk knew all too painfully what lead to that beach.

    There was an aspect that might have been played up a bit more as long as what we saw was the planned intent; it was almost like a science fiction concept of men waiting at the end of the world FOR the end of the world. Apocalyptic.

    One has to assume that those same soldiers, members of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, entered into the war with some arrogance. Then they got their a$$es$ handed to them. In the end the fact that it wasn't the end of the world ... meant that it wasn't the end of the world. WWII contained two major come-backs, British and Soviet, the Soviet one was staggeringly more effective and meaningful, I'd argue that half the fear in the Cold War was the West's incomprehension as to how the Russians did it and terror that they might do it again. But Britain fought the Axis pretty much solo for about a year and I really doubt they could have done it if the hadn't saved the men on that beach. Not just the numbers but the veteran "institutional memory" of their military and the boost it gave the civilians (however involved or not), the myth of a CIVILIAN victory that held them through many horrors to come.
    Benny Holiday and Tommy-VF51 like this.
  11. Warden

    Warden One Too Many

    I saw the film last week. After the amazing reviews I was expecting a little more, but it is far from a bad film. The Spitfire scenes for me was the best part.

    Female nurses on the hospital ships and the 1970s train carriage was a bit rummie.

    The film is shot as a 'first hand' experience, so no historical context, which I guess if your a chap on the ground during the battle, you would not be aware what Ramsey, Churchill, Royal Navy etc was up to.

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  12. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    I'll just wait a couple of years and watch it on TV.

    It will be interesting to compare it to one of my favourite John Mills war movies, the 1958 film about Dunkirk.

    I always think it is interesting how these war films are still being made after all these years, such as Dunkirk and Fury and all the rest, with the Germans as the enemy but so few recently about the Japanese (except the HBO series Pacific). Somebody once wrote that it was because the Germans were a 'worthy enemy'. Guess it must hold true?
  13. Errrr.... "Hacksaw Ridge" released LAST year was set in the Pacific and it was great! It was nominated for "Best Picture". It's Director, Mel Gibson mebbe crazier than a chit house rat but he sure knows how to direct war movies! As for the Japanese not being a "worthy enemy" I think any veteran of the Pacific Theatre or their kin might disagree. Germany was more scientifically advanced, and the inventors of "industrialized Mass Murder" but the Japanese were tough, fanatical and deadly enemies who would gladly give their lives to take one or more of the enemy with them. Early in the ware they inflicted the greatest defeats on American and British arms...

  14. I also liked Hacksaw Ridge a lot, despite Mel Gibson. Japanese under-represented? What about Undefeated? The Railway Man?

    And let's remember that Clint Eastwood directed not one, but two excellent films about Iwo Jima a few years back.
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  15. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Eh? The two Iwo Jima films were made more than a decade ago. Even the Wolverine film were he survives the atomic bomb is more recent!
    I am not a war film buff but I'm well aware that there were many war movies about the Japanese from the 1940s thru to the 70s but recently not so many. On the other hand, war movies depicting Germans continue at a steady pace, most recently with the WWI set Wonder Woman film. The new Dunkirk film continues the tradition.
  16. Well, at my age, a decade doesn't seem long anymore.
  17. Probably depends on how they felt about the Empire; not all of the grunts on the ground would necessarily have approved of or even given much thought to the Empire. The English working classes didn't necessarily have life any better than the locals in any far-flung outpost of the Empire. (Certainly, class was even more of an issue then than it remains now, and much of the upper echelons' prejudice towards "colonials" was rooted less in direct racism than in class prejudice, which simply regarded them as the 'lower orders') Most of the British troops who fought then did so because the conscription papers came through the door and they were presented with no choice.

    Pretty much solo.... except for the rest of the Empire, of course.

    Certainly Dunkirk was quite a phenomenon in what they managed to pull off, but it was very clever spin as to how that was presented as a positive, and the attention of the masses turned away from the military defeat which preceded it.

    Another element of the great 'what if' game one can play with history is what if the tectonic plates hadn't shifted and there had been no English channel - but everything else had panned out pretty much the same? I think Britain being an island made it much easier to retreat to and hold at that point until D-Day. Even then the fear of invasion must have been palpable.

    The Pacific theatre has been far from ignored, but it's probably true that there is, on the whole, more made about the European Theatre. For one thing, as a story-telling mechanic the Nazis offer an easy 'bad guy' stereotype; for another, the Pacific Theatre events I would say aren't as well known or subject to the same level of popular interest in large parts of the market for a Western war film outside of the US. I suppose for many people in Western Europe and especially the UK, the war against Japan was very remote (in the same way as once the Crimean was), whereas the war against Germany with a realistic threat of invasion and occupation was all too credible - that sort of difference can lead to different ideas of what catches people's interest, I think.
  18. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    My experience has always been that Pacific vets never talked as much as European vets ... I got the feeling that it was uglier fighting for a longer period and that there was no retreat into the "mother cultures" of Europe between actions. This had meaning to many Americans and the English were virtually home the whole time. The Pacific, though many found themselves nostalgic for parts of it later, was probably a more alien environment to have to go and experience something horrible in.

    Western writers these days, of course, tend to avoid the Japanese because they fear accusations of racism. I find that sad and unfortunate because choosing to go to war with America, for Japan, was a tragedy of epic proportions ... they virtually knew they couldn't win yet found they couldn't stop themselves either. I've read some work written by younger, less defensive, historians. Though you know what's going to happen, the Titanic sinks, the suspense in the run up to war is palpable because it was not inevitable and if the Pear Harbor attack had been delayed 6 months the entire conflict might never have happened. There are some truly exciting stories still hiding in the Pacific War!

    Nazis really did it to themselves, they reveled in the image that they projected, as a writer how can you not enjoy a story powered buy a bunch of true to life mustache twirling villains. It's like catnip.

    When I referenced potential arrogance that wasn't relating to British/imperial patriotism, which may or may not have played a role. I just meant that the British Empire was objectively seen as something large and powerful and it had beaten Germany before, and Germany had (theoretically) been put in a box by Versailles. Even if hard fighting had been expected what happened must have been staggering. Though Germany had "conquered" several countries at that time, it had rarely been done without a major political component as in Austria and Czechoslovakia.

    It's so odd, neither Japan or Germany, from today's distant point of view, seemed the least bit ready to fight the wars they started. Both could have paused after their early, successful, moves and prepared better for additional modest expansions or eventual war with those who objected to their imperialism. It's as if they were infected with the spirit of the early Spanish and English imperialists but they didn't realize they were a couple of centuries too late.
    Blackthorn likes this.
  19. Probably true in some ways. In another way, though, I suspect the very familiarity of the Europen enemies (especially, one presumes, for the large chunks of the US army who were fighitng people from their own respective "old countries" maybe one two or even one generations removed) could also have been harder in a way - the very alienness of the Japanese at the time - and, let's be blunt, the much more obvious ethnic difference - must surely have made the Japanese easier to otherise and thus kill. Certainly, though, being that much further away from home in that much more alien a culture must have been doubly dreadful in its own way.

    I think you might be bang on the money there in many cases. It's not that it's okay to make the Nazis the bad guys because they're white, but because Hollywood is. All it needs is decent writing, though. I actually thought Clint Eastwoods companion films on Iwo JIma did it very well indeed, especially in dealing with the less familar (to a Western audience) nuances on the Japanese side.

    Oh, indeed. To the point where they're so easy to portray as comic book villains, it almost diminishes the horror of what they did sometimes.

    Ah, yes. I see where you're going with that. It would be intersting to compare first hand accounts of the Brits going in to the war in Europe in 1939 and 1914; certainly, they were very gung ho and 'Over by Christmas' the first tiem round, but there was a real reluctance to see it happen again by the thirties. Even in the early 30s as the Nazis were on the rise there was huge hostility from the public in the UK to the idea of ramping up defence spending. All in, it's hard really to see what else Chamberlain could have done at Munich, given that there simpyl wasn't sufficient support (or, I believe, military readiness) at home for warfare in 1938. Not that being less gungho would necesarily mean less confident, of course, especially as the phoney war months dragged on.

    It was certainly true in the Great War era that part of Kaiser Willy's aggression was that he resented the Allies' larger empires. Certainly Hitler too must, after the humiliation of Versailles, have looked to those Empires with some resentment - even if he would still have preferred the Brits as allies than enemies. Had Hitler Stopped with Austria and Czechoslovakia, he'd probably have been left alone to do what he liked within Germany.
  20. Ah but like a gambler on a roll, neither Hirohito nor Adolph knew how to "quit while they were ahead"! Between them they could've dismantled the British Empire and keep Russia and the U.S. out of it, but they couldn't help themselves. Germany still might have wriggled out of it's eventual destruction had they simply not declared war on the United States and foolishly invade Russia. Begging for a two front war is the definition of insanity!

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