Monday, July 24, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk

Last Friday I took a mini vacation (hashtag #minivaca) and went and saw the new Christopher Nolan movie Dunkirk in IMAX. And (not to give away the ending) I was blown away.

Dunkirk is an amazing movie. Based on the true events at the beginning of World War II (1940) when the British needed to evacuate nearly 400,000 soldiers from France that had just be overrun by the German army. The movie gives us three points of view: 1) a soldier trying to get back to England, 2) a Spitfire pilot trying his best to stop deadly German bombing of ships evacuating the men, and 3) a civilian who, like many others, takes his small boat across the English Channel to rescue as many of the trapped soldiers as possible. Each, in their own way, show amazing courage, even though the solider is trying desperately to get off the beach.

You feel the terror of the soldiers out in the open on a beach with no cover as German Stuka dive bombers attack both the men on the beach and the ships trying to evacuate them. Messerschmitt fighters engage with Spitfires that are trying to shoot down larger German Heinkel bombers that are bombing ships, both military and civilian.

Nolan made an interesting choice to never name the enemy. You never hear the words "Germans" or "Nazis." You never see the enemy until the last few moments of the film during the final fade to black.

Another choice Nolan made was not to make the film gory in the model of Saving Private Ryan. He certainly could have and there were plenty of opportunities. But blood and gore and minimized earning the film a PG-13 rating. The gore wasn't needed to make the move intense.

Even if you don't like "war films," Dunkirk is a very good movie and mostly historically accurate. The biggest problem I had was the train interior that the soldiers get on after arriving in England. It did not look like an early 1940s train. More like a late 60s/early 70s train (there might even have been plastic around the seats). But that's a small quibble after the rest of the amazing movie. Go see Dunkirk. You'll be happy you did.


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