I got busy yesterday so didn’t get a blog post up. Sorry.
Today went with the family to see Dunkirk.
See. This. Movie.
One thing annoyed me about it, the use of shakeycam. However the movie was so riviting that toward the end when I was getting nauseated I thought maybe someone had mixed up the drink machine and I’d gotten sugared pop. It wasn’t until later that it dawned on me. I was so rivited by the story that I completely forgot the shakeycam even though it was making me sick.
That may sound like a mixed result but really, it’s high praise indeed for a story.
The movie starts with a squad of British soldiers in town making their way back toward the beach. They come under fire from unseen assailants. As they flee, they get picked off one by one, until there’s only one left. The one, finally reaches a street blocked off by sandbags with another squad guarding it. He comes under fire from them until he’s able to announce, and have them believe, that he’s British.
This guy is one of several we follow through the movie. And this opening scene pretty much sums up his luck through the whole thing.
There are three basic intertwined stories. There’s the British soldier, and a companion he picks up near the start. There’s the owner of a small boat, his son, and a young friend of theirs. And there are the pilots of a flight of Spitfires. We also have a Naval officer on the shore at Dunkirk, overseeing the evacuation (and played by Kenneth Brannaugh; it took me a while to recognize him) with whom we spend somewhat less time than the others. These intertwined stories give us different views of the events of the evacuation.
The timeline of the film is rather non-linear. In the soldier’s story we see daytime, then nighttime, then daytime again but the small boat is all daytime as is the pilots’ story as their tale is told over the course of one sortie. This gives the film a surreal quality as we’re clearly jumping back and forth in time. The soldier’s story starts well before the boat crews’ which in turn has to start well before the Spitfire pilots’. But we’re cutting between their scenes simultaneously.
An interesting narrative choice is that during the movie at no time until the very end do we see the Germans. Or if we did, I missed it. They are seen at the very end, but I won’t spoil that.
As things are in reality, some people react with courage and dedication to duty during the crisis. Others react with moral and physical cowardice. Some rise to the occasion. Others are broken.
In summary, I found it a deeply moving picture of a desperate time in the beginning of the 2nd World War. Highly recommended.