The Closet Conservative Critic
Dunkirk was one of the summers big anticipated, much hyped movies. Big budget, big director, and big scope of the theme it tackled. By now it has been reviewed by all the critics around the country, and the grand majority have given it a thumbs up. The 5-10% who did not like it on the Rotten Tomatoes web site were 100% correct in their criticisms. Count me as one of the 10% who did not consider it a “good” movie. It was certainly a well-made movie, and well crafted. Yet, for the nature of the theme, and the historical importance to World War 2, it’s a movie that missed its mark. Aside from the qualms I had, which I’ll point out below, it was also rather boring. This is hard for me to say, for I’m a big admirer of the director/writer Christopher Nolan. (Who made one of my all time favorite movies, Memento. He was also the director of three of the best Batman movies, all who featured Christian Bale, in the staring role)
Unlike the invasion of Normandy, or Sicily, or Okinawa, this World War Two event, became significant in its historical impact for its escape, not its attack. There by lays a great deal of critical information that is left OUT of the movie, that minimizes the impact. A great deal of the movies criticisms come from the fact that the movie gives little information to the lead up of the Battle of Dunkirk. And in the final run, the battle was more of a survival battle than a battle to gain ground. Some at the time looked at the escape as a moment of shame for the Brits, for they had suffered huge casualties in Europe, and were now heading back home. In reality, it was a strategic escape of “they live to fight another day.”. The soldiers were heroes for their fighting to that point, and then heroes for surviving, as were the hundreds and hundreds of civilians, in their watercraft, who came to the rescue. THIS part of the story was touched on in one of the three plots, but its scale is quite small from the hundreds of others who risked their lives to do the same thing – cross the English channel, and rescue hundreds and thousands of soldiers who were being cornered in by the Germans.
Then this brings up the other big beef – the war was being waged by an evil dictator, who had hundreds and thousands of subordinates and soldiers who supported the Germans fight to control Europe as the master race. (While in the meantime, murdering millions of Jews) There was NO mention of this precursor, and nearly no mention that they were being slaughtered by the thousands, by the “Germans”. They were a faceless and nameless enemy and by downplaying that, the events that occurred on the beaches of Dunkirk just did not seem important or real. Little or no tension, and little or no emotional investment. Without historical context, we may have well beeen watching a fictional movie, about a fictional country and a fictional war.
Skip Dunkirk and be sure to see Hacksaw Ridge.