Movie Review: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan tries to make war great again.

|

Warner Bros.

There are a few familiar faces blinking through the tumult of Dunkirk: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, even teen-pop singer Harry Styles (who's very good in his first film role, as a young soldier). But their performances aren't the point. The movie's true star is its writer and director, Christopher Nolan, whose commitment to thunderous widescreen action and smashing IMAX cinematography is a wonder to behold.

In recounting the famous story of how more than 300,000 British and Allied troops were desperately evacuated off a French beach as the German army bore down on them in the spring of 1940, Nolan has produced a radical distillation of the traditional war movie. The picture is a loosely linked procession of incident and imagery; dialogue is minimal and there's virtually no exposition. (You might want to read up on the Dunkirk story before seeing the film.)

What we get instead is a tale roughly unfurled in three battle arenas: land, sea and sky. On the beach at Dunkerque, a town in the north of France, we see long lines of trapped soldiers awaiting salvation, their faces registering the numbed incomprehension of young men facing extinction before their lives have really gotten underway. Naval destroyers anchored offshore are ready to rescue these soldiers, but can't get close enough to do so because of the shallow waters; smaller boats would be required to ferry the men out to the ships. Back in England, less than 50 miles across the Channel, a flotilla of some 800 civilian craft are being requisitioned for this purpose, and Nolan puts us aboard one of these boats—a motor-yacht owned by a tweedy gentleman named Dawson (Rylance), who's already cutting through the waves on his way to Dunkirk accompanied two teenagers, one of them his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney). Meanwhile, high above, two RAF pilots (Tom Hardy and Jack Lowdon) are doing sensational pirouettes across the sky in pursuit of the Luftwaffe planes that are attacking the men on the beach below. (At one point we learn that the best way to determine when an outgoing tide has turned is when all the waterlogged corpses start washing back toward shore.)

The movie derives its unusual power in large part from its blunt style. There isn't much in the way of a formal story. Things just happen—we're not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be. At the very beginning, German leaflets flutter down on puzzled soldiers like ominous autumn leaves ("You Are Surrounded"). As bombers howl overhead, a line of explosions marches up the beach practically into our lap. A soldier floating in an oil slick that's just been ignited by a crashing plane faces a choice of whether to die by drowning or burning. A shell-shocked soldier (Cillian Murphy) who's been marooned by a U-boat attack is picked up by Dawson's boat—and is horrified to learn that his rescuer isn't headed home to England, but back to Dunkirk.

Throughout all of this—throughout every single minute of all of this—Hans Zimmer's astonishingly apocalyptic score, with its bare-nerve string-wringing and drunken-giant synth-rumbles, sets a new standard for sonic overkill—and then overkills it. I mean this in a good way—without Zimmer's music, the picture would be substantially diminished.

What we have here is a new kind of war movie, made by a gifted and already much-admired director. I don't think it's Nolan's best film, because Nolan is also the guy who directed The Dark Knight, which is a much better film. The Dark Knight—like Memento and Inception, among other Nolan pictures—adheres to old-school touchstones like narrative and personality. Dunkirk has no interest in either of those things, which is okay—this is a movie that communicates the dislocations of war in a powerful new way, and will likely be studied and mumbled over by film-school scholars for years to come. How many non-scholars will be wanting to see it a second time we will soon discover.

NEXT: What Nancy MacLean Gets Wrong About James Buchanan

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This is one of the history movies I am most looking forward to seeing. As a world War II geek, the evacuation at Dunkirk is still one of the more amazing stories in the conflict.

  2. Want to see it.

  3. “There isn’t much in the way of a formal story. Things just happen?we’re not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be.”
    WWII started on September 1, 1939 with Germany attacking Poland. Poland was defeated in less than 30 days adn German units focused west. Britain and France declared war on Germany but the Western front (the “Phoney War”) was mostly quiet until May 10, 1940 when the German Army attacked west in three army groups. The British had sent an expeditionary force and France had the Maginot Line. Without declaring war on Belgium and the Netherlands, German forces attacked Holland to draw British forces north. The German plan (Fall Gelb “Case yellow”) was to send armor forces in a southern pincer move to cut off Allied forces moving north into Holland. The Maginot Line was a line of heavy forts to protect the French frontier but stopped near Sedan and the Ardennes Forest. German forces got armored unit over the the River Meuse at Sedan and cut off Allied forces north of this force.

    1. (cont’d) British and French units tried to move south after Holland capitulated on May 15. Hitler was urged by some generals to use the armored units to fully surround Allied unit but he had these units pause, on May 24, to rest and rearm. This delay allowed over 400,000 Allied troops to move toward the Dunkirk area. Germany continued to use aircraft to bomb Allied units. Hundreds of tiny boats and small ships sailed from Britain to evacuate troops. The tiny boats were needed to move troops from the shore to destroyers that had to wait offshore. These boats had to avoid mine fields in the water and German aircraft attacks. While rear guard units kept German units from the beaches over 215,000 British and 139,000 French, Belgian, Dutch, Polish troops were evacuated by June 3.

      The British left all their heavy weapons on mainland Europe and lost many aircraft but at least there were hundreds of thousands of troops available to resist any German invasion of the England.

      Germany did plan for an invasion of England in Operation Sea Lion but was never carried out. Instead Germany wanted to get Britain to capitulate with air attacks during the Battle of Britain and The Blitz. By the end of 1940, Germany had set its sights on the USSR, which it attacked on June 1941.

      1. What a delightfully unnecessary history lesson.

        1. Evidently, Kurt Loder has to presume that things just happen in war.

          1. Well you sure told him. You’re, like, my hero and stuff now.

            1. I am just sick of lazy media types who think they deserve money for writing lazy reviews just because they were on MTV in the 1980s.

              1. Got get ’em!

              2. Ooh, sick burn! You’re just so cantankerous and edgy-cool! *rolls eyes*

                1. Are being cynical? Does not sound like it. You might want to change your handle to “nothinginterestingtosayandkurtsballsinmymouth”

                  *rolls eyes*

              3. That’s an oddly specific grudge.

          2. Loder’s not writing a history textbook, he’s writing a review of a movie. “Things just happen?we’re not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be” refers to things happening on the screen, not actual events in history. Did you miss the parenthetical disclaimer at the end of the second paragraph?

            Context matters, homie.

            1. Loder’s not writing a history textbook, he’s writing a review of a movie. “Things just happen?we’re not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be” refers to things happening on the screen, not actual events in history. Did you miss the parenthetical disclaimer at the end of the second paragraph?
              Context matters, homie.

              And what Kurt wrote sounded stupid, like he does not know what happens in war can be random.

              He did not need to write a history book.

              Context matters, home-slice.

              1. “like he does not know what happens in war can be random”

                And proves it by essentially saying things that happen in war can be random…or something.

                Sport, your objection is…not the best one I’ve seen.

              2. As usual, you miss the point. The audience doesn’t know what’s happening at Dunkirk in the context of the movie. Kurt Loder is writing a review of the movie. He actually SAYS that you should read about Dunkirk yourself if you want to understand the context of the war. The movie does not provide the real-life historical context because it is a series of exciting images without much exposition.

                Kurt Loder is a movie reviewer, not a history professor. Did you also get mad when he wrote about the latest Star Wars movie without having a background in astrophysics?

                1. Citizen X – #6|7.21.17 @ 9:37AM|#
                  As usual, you miss the point. The audience doesn’t know what’s happening at Dunkirk in the context of the movie. Kurt Loder is writing a review of the movie. He actually SAYS that you should read about Dunkirk yourself if you want to understand the context of the war. The movie does not provide the real-life historical context because it is a series of exciting images without much exposition.
                  Kurt Loder is a movie reviewer, not a history professor. Did you also get mad when he wrote about the latest Star Wars movie without having a background in astrophysics?

                  As usual, you miss, well, everything.

                  Dunkirk is a very specific part of WWII. That is the “formal” story.

                  Anyway, get Kurt’s balls out of your mouth and read what he actually said. Star wars is fiction. Jesus, you are a maroon.

                  I still stand by that this was a lazy “review” of this movie. Luckily, I don’t give two shits what reviewers say because they almost without exception have have horrible tastes and cannot review worth a damn.

            2. I presume this a choice by Nolan, giving the audience not much more contect than the characters.

              1. And a good one. Who needs to see another room full of generals with a map explaining to the audience why the 300,000 surrounded men on the beach are doomed? Just show us the trapped men on the beach getting bombed to smithereens.

            3. “Things just happen?we’re not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be” refers to things happening on the screen, not actual events in history.

              I interpreted that to refer more to the POV of a grunt stranded on the beach or one of the civilian boats that were going to rescue them. They wouldn’t have necessarily known about all the “strategery” that lead to that moment of history, they would have felt a little like they were just stuck there in it, without the advantage of knowing all the details of what lead to that moment in time, which is probably what Nolan was trying to show.

              It puts the audience in a similar “shit’s just happening and it really sucks” mindset that the characters in the movie are in. And of course, it should go without saying, that in the context of the review Loder is simply describing Nolan’s narrative choice in this movie. I’m sure he’s well aware that “things just happen” isn’t really how it all went down.

              LC is just being a contrarian dickhead for the sake of being a contrarian dickhead. That and Loder is one of those “lazy media types” that he loathes because of his MDS: Media Derangement Syndrome.

              1. See ya don’t know because Kurt wrote a lazy piece.

                You are clearly the dickhead for blabbing on without anything interesting to say about someone’s opinion about the review in THE [wait for it] “Comments section”.

                Takes a TDS to know a MDS.

              2. that was my take away as well Cynical A and isn’t that how the opening to Saving Private Ryan started on a beach invasion

          3. Fog of war. Look it up.

          4. Not sure why 1789 is attacking Loder. All he did was relate that the movie doesn’t really explain what is happening, kind of like the soldiers in the middle of it likely didn’t know what was happening except for what they experienced as it unfolded.

            If 1789 has a gripe, it should be directed at the Director.

            1. I have not seen the movie yet. Kurt has. If he is going to waste space on Reason, at least have something intelligent to say.

              “Things just happen?we’re not always certain exactly what or why, but then that, presumably, is how war would be.”

              1. He means IN THE MOVIE, THINGS JUST HAPPEN, dumbass. The movie doesn’t explain it as a history lesson, just as a person living through the evacuation have little sense of the big picture, but would be overwhelmed by the NOW!

                Loder is reviewing the movie, not a history book about Dunkirk.

                You are tedious.

                1. “You are tedious”.

                  Grass is green.

                2. He is not doing either.

                  It is a bad review done by a bad reviewer.

                  The story is the Dunkirk evacuation and Kurt could not pick up on that.

                  1. Not really. Nola is not doing a “this is the tale of the Dunkirk evacuation” type movie, which would be a historical drama. Nor is he scaling the story down to that of “three little people whose problems don’t mean a hill of beans in this crazy world” which would be a historical romance.

                    Nolan instead portrays the war as it would seem from ground level, to people who have neither large-scale involvement in the “grand strategery” of the operation, nor personal-scale involvement like an imperiled love interest “back on the battle cruiser”/”at a cafe behind enemy lines”/”back home in Hooters’ Mill”.

                    Loder conveyed that this was Nolan’s approach, which information has some utility, for me anyway Maybe the lack of intelligence was less in the content of the review than in the picky, grudge-holding reader. It happens.

              2. “If he is going to waste space on Reason, at least have something intelligent to say.”

                Cruel, cruel irony.

                1. Tom Bombadil|7.21.17 @ 9:43AM|#
                  “If he is going to waste space on Reason, at least have something intelligent to say.”
                  Cruel, cruel irony.

                  Yes, that you wasted space on reason.

                  You can remove Kurt from your mouth at any time.

                2. As ironic as clicking a non-existent “like” button.

              3. I’ve been in a war. His sentence makes perfect sense as a comment on the perception of war from the inside to me.

                This is seriously one of the stupidest, most contrived, most inane criticisms of an article I’ve ever read on this site. It’s such an incredibly stupid argument, people are still referring each other to it a week later. That’s some weapons-grade derp you got going.

            2. Technically, the story of Dunkirk isn’t exactly unknown. There should be an assumption of some basic level of knowledge for anybody who has any desire to see this movie.

              1. Anyone over 30. But schools have stopped teaching white man’s history for a long time.

                Hell, even in the 70s, we spent a year studying Upper Volta and the Tasaday and some other loser culture.

            3. Apparently all war movies should be dry, just the facts historical documentaries. And all reviews of said movies should be history lessons.

              1. Yes. And with lots of contrived and forced exposition.

              2. Apparently all reviews should be dry and lazy…. And all the comments of said reviews should be cucksters hating that Kurt Loder is getting criticism.

                1. Or, maybe people just disagree with your review of the review.

                  Nah, must be because people have a personal interest in defending Kurt Loder because they are fags.

  4. Germany had 4000 aircraft to the Allied 3000 aircraft. Germany had 2.5 million troops to the Allied 2.5 Million troops.

    So, yeah, things just happen in war.

    1. Please tell me you have a newsletter I can subscribe to.

      1. Newsletters are not my style. I have a list of good WWII reference books, if you like.

        1. No need, you wrote half a book above.

          1. That explains a lot that you think what I wrote was “half a book”.

            Should I get you a pop-up book?

    2. Could be worse…records show France had more aircraft after they surrendered then at the start of the war.

      France worked awfully hard to lose that war as quickly as they did.

      1. Don’t forget about France forming Vichy France. Collaborators with Germany.

        The French are a real piece of work.

        1. Also, Petain being a “defeatist” wasn’t exactly unknown. He was one in World War I as well. He just had his win at Verdum before he lost his nerve afterwards.

          If they had listened to de Gaulle in the 20’s and 30’s, the Nazis would have fared very, very poorly.

          1. If they had attacked while Germany instead of waiting, they could have defeated them.

    3. He’s talking about the movie, not the war. It’s really not that hard to grasp. Nowhere does he say that things that happen in war happen for no reason or at random. Your complaint is bizarre. It’s as if you are just looking for something to bitch about. No one else interpreted what he wrote that way.

      1. ^correct

        Not only that, Loder points out that the non-explanatory, immersive style is the distinctive feature of this movie and is clearly intentional by the Director.

      2. It’s as if you are just looking for something to bitch about.

        It’s starting to remind me of John. Doesn’t quite have the same “flare” as John used to have, but it sure feels similar to the kinds of arguments and pointless shit stirring for no good reason he used to pull.

        1. What happened to John? Yet another years-long regular that has disappeared.

          1. I think he was part of the Great Glibertarian Migration.

          2. He showed up a while ago and decided that everyone left here was an idiot (with a few exceptions) and hasn’t been back as far as I know.

            1. decided that everyone left here was an idiot

              And people say I’m an asshole…

              1. That’s at least what people say about you.

        2. John was a lot smarter. I kind of miss him. He went off the rails a lot, but you could have interesting arguments with him.

          1. Yes, I agree. It was good to have a discussion with someone who I half agreed with who isn’t a complete idiot true-believer like Tony.

          2. Yeah, with John you could at least tell he had put some thought into his positions so even if you disagreed with him you could still have some respect for him. He wasn’t just 100% pointless shit flinging.

            Although he was a little like a dog with a bone sometimes and wouldn’t let shit go. That’s kind of what this obsession with the one line from Loder’s review and being unwilling to put it down no matter how thoroughly it’s been explained to him is reminding me of.

            1. You would think disagreeing with Kurt Loder’s “review” is pointless shit.

              It was a lazy review and I pointed out why. You choosing to blab on about nonsense is typical of your lazy comments.

        1. My schtick is pointing out the cucks here who cannot admit the good and bad of what Trump does…

          and that this was a lazy “review” of this movie.

          1. loveconstitution1789|7.21.17 @ 1:29PM|#
            “My schtick is pointing out the cucks here who cannot admit the good and bad of what Trump does…”

            You’re a laugh riot, you are.

          2. Anyone who uses the term cuck without it being tongue and cheek, is not to be taken seriously.

            1. Devastator|7.21.17 @ 6:12PM|#
              “Anyone who uses the term cuck without it being tongue and cheek, is not to be taken seriously.”

              You haven’t covered yourself in glory; I’m still waiting to laugh at your “cites” for oil subsidies.
              And laugh I will.

      3. It was a lazy and bizarre review.

        “There isn’t much in the way of a formal story. “
        Clearly Loder did not realize the “formal” story was about the evacuation of Dunkirk.

        You knew what Kurt Loder meant from his bad review and that speaks volumes about you.

  5. I agree that Sandra `s storry is really great… on thursday I bought a top of the range McLaren F1 after having made $4476 this past month and-over, $10 thousand this past-munth . no-doubt about it, this really is the most comfortable job I’ve had . I actually started 5 months ago and immediately began to bring home over $69 per-hour . find more info

    ……………. http://www.JobBiz5.com

    1. Speaking of being tedious…

      1. assholes need an editor to make their shit-posts appear plausible…that one is a mess

    2. Since a McLaren F1 will cost you over 8 million USD, I kinda doubt it.

  6. I can’t wait to see this film.

  7. I read elsewhere that certain Progressive Bright Lights are complaining that there are too many white actors in this film. Do these people even listen to themselves? I suppose that if somebody wanted to remake BRAVEHEART they would advocate casting an African as William Wallace.

    That’s ok for Community Theatre, like doing TOBACCO ROAD in Roman dress. It amuses the cast and the production isn’t about making money anyway. But when I read about it’s applied to a commercial production I get an overwhelming urge to run the complainers through a wood chipper.

    1. I remember an SNL sketch from the ’90s where they “auditioned” each of their cast members to see who would get to play Bill Clinton: Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Chris Elliot all read a few lines in character. When it was Tim Meadows’ turn, he looked at the camera, started to read the lines, stopped, and said, “I’m not getting the part, am I?”

      The sketch was really funny, but I doubt it fly today. Sad.

    2. It’s a post-Hamilton shibboleth–since we had a musical with a bunch of affirmative action hires LARPing as white men, we should do it in every movie, even where it wouldn’t fit. For example, casting Djimon Honsou in the most recent Arthur movie.

  8. I have pointed out before that the only war movies Hollywood likes to make anymore are ones where the good guys get badly fucked up and more or less lose.

    e.g. things like Black Hawk Down, Lone Survivor. You could include things like Paul Greengrass’ films like The Green Zone (which is really just Matt Damon going, “But they told us there were WMD’s!” for 2 hours) The Hurt Locker and Fury are really about psychological damages caused by warfare, not the war itself. The purpose of the war or accomplishment of objectives is basically set aside so you can focus on the brutality, callousness, desecration of the dead, abuse of prisoners, etc. The plot has little to do with any goal being accomplished and is more about whether the main character will also become a monster.

    I don’t really have any opinion about this, its just something i’ve observed. Movies, and genre movies in particular, have always gone through multi-year ‘fads’ where a certain style of film-theme becomes predominant. You can certainly find exceptions (most of them are made by Clint Eastwood), but i think its still the case that the majority of ‘war stories’ made in the last 20 years have this inverted theme where its really not about ‘beating the bad guys’ so much as ‘dealing with the consequences of massive failure’ or a psychological study of the harm caused by war.

    1. That is an interesting observation. I think it’s largely a good thing. And probably has something to do with the fact that since WWII, all the significant wars the US has been involved in have been big messes where the bad guys didn’t end up really being defeated (or new bad guys just replaced the original ones).

      1. (or new bad guys just replaced the original ones).

        From what I’ve read, the original Dear Leader(TM) Kim Il Sung was a nasty sonofabitch, but his descendants keep tending more towards batshit crazy. Assuming little pudgy’s regime lasts long enough to be passed down to an heir, I wonder just how messed up he will be.

        1. Assuming little pudgy’s regime lasts long enough to be passed down to an heir, I wonder just how messed up he will be.

          *Archer voice* Wait, I had something for this… something about “three generations of imbeciles are enough…”

      2. since WWII, all the significant wars the US has been involved in have been big messes where the bad guys didn’t end up really being defeated

        true.

        but imo that actually had little effect on the way war movies were made until … around the 1980s.

        i’ve talked about this before w a variety of people, and most seem to agree that the “good guys lose/psychological trauma” model i’m talking about is a derivative of the 1980s “post-vietnam” crop of films. e.g. Apocalypse Now, Casualties of War, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, etc.

        war movies in the 1960s and 70s, for instance, were sometimes cynical or satirical, but plots were almost always were still about ‘what happened’ – the success or failure of a mission, ‘beating the enemy’. Winning. Sometimes that victory was hollow, or questioned the purpose of the war, but they always tended to lionize soldiers and emphasize bravery, self-sacrifice, camaraderie, etc. (see: the Dirty Dozen, Hell is For Heroes, etc)

        We didn’t really turn into self-hating, defeat-fetishizing shoegazers until the 80s. Even First Blood was about an emotionally traumatized vet before Rambo II and III turned into a greased-muscles killing machine.

        I think the post-cold-war 1990s was an interesting time because we were effectively “winners”. War became less popular as a topic. But the war on terror effectively revived a lot of the 1980s style themes.

        1. I think the big turning point was Saving Private Ryan. It was such a massive success, and essentially drove home the horrible spectacle of the effort, and the fact that these people were not fighting for a giant ideal, but for their team mates and survival.

          The 80s was a little different- lots of vietnam rehashes and the general fatalism and darkness that came from our cultural mood that nuclear war was going to destroy us all.

          1. I think the big turning point was Saving Private Ryan.

            I considered that more part of a short-lived fad of “Greatest Generation-worshipping” movies … which led to Band of Brothers and a host of other [insert orchestral music – picture of man saluting crosses at normandy]

            I don’t think it had much influence on the way post 2001 war movies have generally been sold/spun. Maybe things like Fury felt they had to one-up Ryan with the ‘realism’ (read: gratuitous graphic violence/gore), but i think that’s more of a stylistic influence than a thematic one.

        2. “the best Years of our lives” made in 1946. the after affects of War is along these lines of the physcological and physical damage of war. Great movie watch it every time it airs. it also has the college kid indoctrinated into an anti war stance by his liberal professors. the more things change the more they stay the same. The movie is as meaningful then as it is today

    2. I have pointed out before that the only war movies Hollywood likes to make anymore are ones where the good guys get badly fucked up and more or less lose.

      I second this. One of my all-time favorites is “A Bridge Too Far” about the Market Garden disaster. I think it was made in the mid-70’s-ish, which was not exactly a time when the general public was fawning over all things military. But it still had a heroic tone about it, even though the subject matter was the story of one colossal screw-up after another. I wonder how much of that had to do with a key audience demographic being people of a certain age who remembered it (or seeing it in newsreels) in real life.

      For what it’s worth, the book the movie was based on tells a much more fascinating story. Too bad Cornelius Ryan never got around to writing something similar about Dunkirk.

      1. A Bridge Too Far is an excellent example of the difference i’m talking about

        Even tho the mission was a failure, it breaks the story up into multiple sub-plots (the tank commanders rushing to meet their timetable, the US airborne trying to build a temporary bridge, the british paras trying to hold their position@ Arnhem)…. most of which are successful. each of those sub-stories are basically about ‘decent guys bravely trying to accomplish a task’. Not vignettes of ’emotionally traumatized victims contemplating the nature of their own humanity’.

        Even tho i think it suggests that leaders made critical errors in planning due to hubris and incompetence … it doesn’t dwell on this as some essential theme. For the most part, the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and the point of the movie is to get the fucking bridge so we can win the war.

        In movies like Platoon, by contrast, you hardly even know what the “mission” is; its always just “oh shit we’re all gonna die isn’t man’s inhumanity to man like seriously fucked up?” The vietnamese aren’t really even the enemy in that movie – its “Barnes”, the Evil American Yokel who don’t like no dope-smokin’ hippies.

        I think the Platoon-style-template has become more the norm since the 1980s; War movies are hardly about the details of the military conflict at all; war is just an incidental backdrop where ‘stuff happens’ which traumatizes characters. ‘Winning’ and ‘losing’ are irrelevant.

        1. Have I mentioned lately that Terence Malik is the most overrated director in modern history?

    3. That was the entire premise of Twelve O’Clock High.

    4. Don’t forget Hacksaw Ridge, where the hero doesn’t fight, he just rescues wounded guys.

      How about a movie about Mitchell Paige, manning 4 machine guns single-handedly after his whole platoon was wiped out, holding off an entire Japanese regiment on Guadalcanal, then organizing the support staff the next day for a bayonet charge to drive the enemy away?

      1. “”the hero doesn’t fight, he just rescues wounded guys.”

        interestingly, that was the same angle Malick tried to inject into The Thin Red Line (arguably the best war movie of the last few decades); the main character tries to maintain moral-distance from the killing

        its an interesting angle. I don’t know if that’s a complete exception or if it overlaps in some way (because it changes the story from being about ‘victory over the enemy’ and instead is just more of a tour of battlefield horrors. (i’ve never seen hacksaw ridge so i don’t really know how the plot plays out)

        i said that most of the best ‘exceptions’ to my point probably came from Clint Eastwood, but i think if you look at Letters from Iwo or American Sniper, there’s still this core element of ‘war-as-psychological trauma’ which you can’t really get away from.

  9. In. Gracias, Kurt.

  10. Saw the movie last night, and was very impressed. It is a different Nolan film than I was expecting. You never see the face of the Nazi soldiers and apart from Luftwaffe planes, you see almost nothing of the Nazis. Instead it is purely about the British (and a couple other Europeans) reactions to the situation. The non-linear direction heightens the confusion, at least initially. The score really cements in the bursting levels of tension felt by the men stranded on the beach. I too am unsure if I would want to sit down and watch it repeatedly but it is absolutely worth seeing.

  11. Meanwhile in Trump World, the President has apparently started asking his lawyers if he’s allowed to pardon himself.

    1. Whoops, meant to put this on the AM Links.

  12. …smaller boats would be required to ferry the men out to the ships. Back in England, less than 50 miles across the Channel, a flotilla of some 800 civilian craft are being requisitioned for this purpose…

    Luckily for the British soldiers, FEMA hadn’t been invented yet and couldn’t turn away the civilian craft.

  13. Anyone who thinks antiwar movies started in the eighties needs to see La Grande Illusion (1937), by Jean Renoir (yes, son of that Renoir). Its theme is that the opposing grunts have more in common with each other than they do with their commanding officers, and the same is true of the commanding officers.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Grande_Illusion

    1. Anyone who thinks antiwar movies started in the eighties

      If you’re referring to me, that’s not what i said at all.

      I’ve seen grand illusion.

      1. What about ‘all quiet on the western front ‘?

        What about that?

    2. Wings, from 1927, is pretty damn dark in spots.

      I always remember one scene, two tommies are talking to each other. An explosion happens and one dies. The other’s reaction is just dazed acceptance and it’s one of the most striking things I’ve seen.

  14. Wikipedia says the Brits left enough materials to equip eight to ten divisions and that their retreat was covered by 30 thousand Frenchmen who eventually had to surrender. The John Wayne loving American in me says… “That’s ain’t no victory, pilgrim”. We get upset here if the MLB All Star game ends in a draw.

    But the real story is those shameful libertarians who were running the country at the time, who were all like “We don’t get involved in other country’s affair, we must stay neutral and only give you supplies and stuff OK”

    1. There are actual libertarians who think we should have stayed out of WW2 and sold arms/oil/etc to the Japanese (and thus that we didn’t, we deserved Pearl Harbor)

    2. Some 30,000 French did stay to fight. They were helping to protect the thousands of French troops being evacuated along with the British. They co-ordinated a skilful defence with the thousands of British troops who also remained and fought. Some units of both nations fought to the last man. Many were executed by the SS after surrendering.

      The canarde that the French fought while the British left was a piece of propaganda put about by the Germans to try to reconcile the defeated French nation to rule by the Vichy collaborators and discourage people from joining the Free French and resistance.

      1. Cite please? A book reference will do.

    3. “But the real story is those shameful libertarians who were running the country at the time, who were all like “We don’t get involved in other country’s affair, we must stay neutral and only give you supplies and stuff OK””

      No, the real story is assholes like you making up strawmen, asshole.
      Just want to make sure that’s clear, asshole.

      1. I think your humor / sarcasm meter is broken or something.

  15. its worse i didnt liked the movie at all

  16. I saw the movie last week and really enjoyed it. I’ve been a WWII history buff since I was young. I think if Cornelius Ryan (The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far) had written a book about Dunkirk, it would have be similar to this movie. Meaning that various characters experiencing the same battle alone and distinct from one another. I’ve read a few on-line complaints about the lack of references to the French Army, but, frankly, the French Army was a small appendage to the Army fighting the Germans and were a small part of the evacuees to England. DeGaulle was already safely in England by the time the evacuation took place. What I’ve never been able to understand is having gone through Dunkirk, why did Montgomery and the allies allow the Germans to evacuate virtually their entire army from Sicily to the Italian mainland less than two years later?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.