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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WHEREFORE ART THOU DUNKIRK

WHEREFORE ART THOU DUNKIRK

Conversation while walking out of the theater immediately after seeing Dunkirk...

“What did you think?”

(Pause) “The cinematography was excellent…”

When the first thing you say about a movie is the cinematography was excellent, there is a major problem with the cinematic event to which you’re responding—and Dunkirk has more than one major problem. In fact, the film is filled with them.

The critics who rated Dunkirk a 92 on Rotten Tomatoes must have seen a completely different film to the one I saw. Or, perhaps, they were so enamored by the auteur power of Christopher Nolan, they couldn’t see the emperor has no clothes.

Of the three marquee stars, Mark Rylance is the only one with a modicum of screen presence. However, the script gives Rylance—along with Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy—absolutely nothing from which to create a memorable character. All three could have been replaced by any random WAM (waiter/actor/model) and it wouldn’t have made a sliver of difference to the film.
 
Nolan provides no context for the incredible feat of the Dunkirk evacuation. Nor does he manage to convey the scope of the heroic rescue of 380,000 soldiers by over 800 small civilian ships. There is no indication of the courage of those who sailed, again and again across the English Channel to rescue every soldier or sailor they possibly could—be they British, Polish, French, or from any other allied nation without prejudice. In the face of great danger, these average civilian men and women committed themselves selflessly because it was a job nobody else could or would do. They did it because England would not have survived otherwise.

According to what Nolan puts on the screen, the RAF had only three planes, the British Navy only had one destroyer (which kept being blown up), and a couple of thousand men—most of whom died by being strafed, bombed, crushed, or drowned—were rescued by a dozen or so little boats—The End. If you went into the movie theater knowing nothing about the historic events of Dunkirk, you would leave the theater knowing even less.

Aside from all its other faults, Dunkirk commits the cardinal sin of being boring. It is a cold and distant film, which completely fails to engage on any level. Nolan’s snazzy time shifting nonsense, which the critics swooned over, does nothing but muddle an already murky continuity. Things are made even worse by mumbled and garbled dialogue—what there is of it anyway—which does nothing to explain the situation or further the plot. Wait...There wasn’t a plot, only a series of disconnected scenes, which crash and burn like a Spitfire shot out of the sky—much like Dunkirk itself.

Personally, I think the above poster would have been a much more entertaining film...

1 comment:

  1. Exactly right, Paul. There is a 1958 movie, DUNKIRK, with John Mills and Richard Attenborough that I would like to see. It’s got to be better than this new film.

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