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"Dunkirk": a Review

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by InTheLight, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    I saw the movie "Dunkirk" at an IMAX theater. Directed by Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight series, Inception, Interstellar, Memento) this movie is being heavily praised. This is high quality filmmaking to be sure, but strangely, it lacks a story with a human element and therefore it is difficult to relate to. I give it 3 out of 4 stars. If it had characters that we knew more about then just their names and cared about this would easily be a 4 out of 4 star movie. Also, the movie narrative was disjointed. More on that later.

    The movie is beautifully shot. The larger IMAX screen with surround sound made an impact. The most impressive shots are the aerial shots and wide, panorama shots. Just fantastic. On the other hand, there are frequent close-ups, the camera inches away from people's faces. One extended scene of a group of soldiers hiding in a beached trawler that was under attack was particularly claustrophobic. This technique wore on me after a while. Still, there has to be an Oscar nomination for cinematography for this film. Probably an Oscar win.

    The soundtrack seemed to be way overdriven and there was always some loud, tense background pulsing amping up the tension that was relentless. Gunshots are overly loud, bombs dropping blocks away seem to be right next to you, torpedoes ripping through ships is crazily loud, etc. The sound of bombs screaming as they fell from German Stuka dive bombers was especially harrowing to me. If you don't like loud noises and sounds, this isn't your movie. There is literally not one moment of silence until the last scene of the movie.

    Technically, for production, the movie gets an A+. Sadly, the story, if you can call it that, was lacking. This movie seems like a "found footage" movie that was spliced together and plays like a newsreel. We never get to know a single character. There really isn't any characters, just soldiers, pilots, and sailors. This is the missing component, the flaw in an otherwise extremely well made movie. The audience has no one to relate to. Rather, they get pummeled by bombs, bullets, explosions, etc. for almost two hours.

    There are three segments to the movie--an army guy who is trying to get on a boat to get back to England, a civilian and his son who are running their pleasure yacht over to Dunkirk from England to pick up soldiers and bring them back, and a Spitfire pilot who is trying to shoot down German bombers before they can take out the "sitting duck" ships and boats at Dunkirk.

    A major problem I had with the storytelling (again, I use the word loosely) besides no characterization is the flow of the movie--time is disjointed, either compressed or extended depending on which guy the movie happens to be concentrating on. For example, the army guy trying to get on a ship takes five days to tell his "story". The civilian on the yacht story takes about a day to tell (though it shouldn't have) and the Spitfire pilot's "story" occurs over the space of about an hour. Yet, all three threads are woven into the story as if they were happening simultaneously. You go from an aerial battle scene in bright sunlight to a night scene on a destroyer docked off shore, then to an early morning scene on the yacht. Honestly, it's what, 25 miles from Dover to Dunkirk and the yacht portion of the movie takes the entire movie just to get over there. I'm thinking as I'm watching these guys should be there by now, especially since we've seen two days and two nights in the army guy thread. Very disorienting.

    Having recently re-watched "Saving Private Ryan" and watching the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" I've got a good idea of what a real war purports to look and sound like.. "Dunkirk" doubles down on this authenticity. The (over)use of extreme facial closeups and overly loud battle sounds drives home the feeling of actually being in a war. There is no explicit bloody gore like in SPR or BoB, but there are graphic scenes of bodies being blown away and ships being blown up and sunk. I only counted one "F-Bomb" and surprisingly little cussing. A couple of complaints. There are destroyers with anti-aircraft guns anchored off shore of Dunkirk. The destroyers are targets of the Nazi bombers. Yet in scene after scene they show bombers approaching the destroyers and not once is an anti-aircraft gun used. Are the gunners not searching the skies for bombers? I thought that was inexplicable. Also, it seemed way too easy for Nazi fighters to "sneak up" on the Spitfires patrolling the area. I know there was no radar on the Spitfires but really? Also, can't the Spitfire pilots radio the destroyers and tell them to ready the anti-aircraft guns?

    Bottom line--extremely well made cinema experience that bombards the audience with the sights and sounds of warfare. Scant story line.
     
    #1 InTheLight, Jul 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
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  2. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    I thought Dunkirk was amazing. I was literally leaning forward in my seat the whole movie. I knew going in that the movie had 3 different timelines so I was already mentally prepared for that so it didn't bother me. I thought the music especially was well done, and was really the driving character of the movie. I was fine with there not being a lot of back story and characterization, because the story is the rescue of the army at Dunkirk, and the lack of filler really helped bring into focus the amazing rescue the Dunkirk was.
     
  3. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    I went in not knowing a thing about the movie except Christopher Nolan's reputation as a filmmaker. On blockbuster movies that I want to see I try to see them as soon as they are released and avoid any reviews and word of mouth info from people that have seen it. So I was a blank slate.

    No doubt it is an engrossing movie, you can't help but be involved. I tell you what--when you walk out of the theater you've been through the wringer, that's for sure. I just felt a character or two I could have an emotional investment in would have elevated the movie to extreme greatness. I guess it will have to be "only" a great movie for me.

    Sent from my Motorola Droid Turbo.
     
  4. Lukasaurus

    Lukasaurus Member

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    I really wish that there were more disabled trans actors playing people of color and women. It was just all white men.
     
  5. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    Similarly, I was wondering about the lack of women in the D-Day scene at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.

    Sent from my Motorola Droid Turbo.
     
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  6. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    How dare a historical period piece not follow modern social sensibilities. I mean come on a teenage boy volunteering to work, and not once pulling out a cell phone, just made it hard for me to connect and understand what was going on.
     
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  7. Rolfe

    Rolfe Well-Known Member
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    Is what I read true, that there is no mention of Hitler or the word Nazi?
     
  8. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    That is True.
     
  9. Rolfe

    Rolfe Well-Known Member
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    I do not know whether to call that sad or pathetic.


    I suppose that the Brits do not want to tick off Merkel any more than she already is...;)
     
  10. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    Neither, its a conscious choice by Nolan to make the entire focus on the Brits, and their time at Dunkirk. The fact that you never see them, makes them a much bigger threat, just like in old horror movies not seeing the monster made it that much scarier. Spoiler: It does end with Churchill's famous we will fight them on the beaches speech, showing how this strategic retreat was a rallying point for the Brits to go fight the Germans.

    Highlight the above if you want to read the spoiler.
     
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  11. Rolfe

    Rolfe Well-Known Member
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    I will trust your assessment, since not having watched the movie, I do not think that I have standing to offer much more of an opinion.

    I can see how that might work in a plot, though the amateur historian part of me questions it.
     
  12. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    They didn't need to be named because we all know who the enemy was. Although at the very beginning when the leaflets were falling from the sky weren't there swastika's on them?



    Sent from my Motorola Droid Turbo.
     
  13. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    Yes I'm pretty sure there was.
     
  14. carpro

    carpro Well-Known Member
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    Then French don't like it at all.:Wink
     
  15. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    If you don't mind me asking, what were the crowds like?

    Seems like Dunkirk pulled in just a bit more than expected, but I was surprised to see Valerian tank so bad.
     
  16. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    We bought reserved seating on Thursday for the Saturday afternoon showing and when we bought them there were many open seats so we got seats three rows from the back smack dab in the middle of the screen. When we got to the theater there were maybe only 8 or 10 single empty seats scattered throughout the theater which I would guess held 300 people.

    Valarian? They should release that directly to Mystery Science Theater 3000 and skip the theatrical release.
     
    #16 InTheLight, Jul 24, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
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  17. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318 Well-Known Member
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    The theater was sold out when we saw it. Thankfully we pre bought our tickets and had reserved seating.
     
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  18. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    That $225Million price tag, though. Yikes.

    I wouldn't mind seeing both movies, but I'm still delinquent on taking the kids to Despicable Me 3.
     
  19. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    I watched the movie yesterday and just posted my own review on BaptistBoard, here:

    Dunkirk, a Good Movie which could have been Great

    In addition to reviewing the movie, I share a few related thoughts about intercessory prayer. Overall, I thought it was a very good movie. If you know someone who is going to see it, it might help them to explain ahead of time how it jumps around some in the timeline so they will be ready for that.
     
  20. JohnDeereFan

    JohnDeereFan Well-Known Member
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    Saw it by myself, as my wife doesn't like war movies. I was literally the only one in the theater.
     
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