Well, it’s like dBaseII, there never really was a dBaseI and look how successful it was in destroying the sanctity of the concept of 3rd-normal data. This review, Part 2, will likely destroy the sanctity of the concept of the film review. The reasons are simple. I have no idea how to review a movie, or a book, or a play. Did I tell you that I am the proud playwright of a 3-Act play? I did? Ok, that was a digressive plug for when I finally pluck up the courage to submit it to Amazon.
But now to the movie, the one I did not get to reviewing in Dunkirk Review – Part 1.
It started well, with chest-thumping action with a point-of-view feel to it. It broke down the action from Land, Sea and Air. There were no German soldiers to be seen anywhere. Except for the air action, we did not get to see any enemy action. Yes, we saw the torpedoes and shells causing damage and we heard German soldiers shoot at a boat where some British soldiers were hiding. Given the scale of the BEF forces lined up dutifully, one wonders why the soldiers were idling their time shooting at a beached boat. I, who famously failed to decipher on screen action once as a hormone-overloaded teenager ( click here to read that horrible date story ), now failed to understand that piece of action as a middle-aged dimwit. I searched the web, and interestingly, I’m not the only one mystified by that. Uh, yay?
For a while I thought it would become a story of that duo trying everything to get off the beach to safety. It didn’t. I thought we’d see the scale of the operation. We didn’t. I thought the sky would be filled with German planes and the few planes that Churchill allowed. It wasn’t. We didn’t get the feel of the Blenheims and Battles being outclassed by the Me109s. We barely saw the Hurricanes who did so much and focused instead on the lone Spit. Dramatic for people born in the 2000s, not so for those born less than 20 years after the end of the war and fed a steady diet of the heroics of the Hurricanes and Spitfires against the Me 109s and FW-190s. And where the hell were the Stukas? ( ok – don’t write in… there were no FW-109s at Dunquerque, I know that!)
The film focused on focused tales of a few soldiers among the thousands that were there, scared, defiant, angry, hopeful and resigned. From a film makers, perspective, not a bad way to dramatize. But we didn’t get any background on them, and they played their parts as pieces in Nolan’s chessboard, never really moving the game forward, never really standing out as defining moments in the film.
The Spitfire pilots, focused on their fuel, while holding off the 109s and shooting down torpedo bombers were amongst the most compelling actions of the film. We knew he’d be running out of fuel though. We knew he’d fight on, regardless. We knew, but it was watchable.
We didn’t see the scale I was expecting to see. For example, we didn’t see the hundreds of “Little Ships” that sailed across the choppy Channel. We didn’t see scale in the Air. We didn’t see scale in the Sea. We sort of got a glimpse of the scale on the ground with the BEF men lined up in long snakes.
The best part of the movie from a dramatic point of view, was the story of “Mr Dawson”, the dramatized version of Charles Lightoller story. It was human, it was brave, it was sad, tragic and an ultimate triumph of the human spirit over adversity, cowardice and personal tragedy.
You may now be wondering how many stars I’m going to give this. I’m not handing out any. In two separate articles that I have written before, I have discussed the issue of reviews, critics and their place in society. It is one of the reasons why I don’t offer written reviews of anything. A rule that I have now broken. If you’re interested in reading those views ( or if you are a glutton for punishment ), here is the first one and the other one.
Hint: I like bhindi ( okra, if American ). You may not. Neither of us is right or wrong. We just have different tastes. If you still wish to judge, may I suggest reading this riveting and caustic article about judgement?
Thank you! Over and out!