Dunkirk Film Review
Posted on June 20, 2018
What a refreshing change to see a film in this genre without the aid of a Hollywood budget. What we have here is not over indulgent, not full of that sickening obnoxious patriotism we have come accustomed to and been tortured by in recent years that blights so many a Hollywood blockbuster. There is little in the way of that excessive glorifying almost perverse romanticism of war we see so frequently from our cousins across the pond. Which is enough to drive anyone potty right?. OK so you have to expect some of the latter to be on show, be silly if it hadn’t featured in some capacity or another but thankfully for one and all it’s in fair moderation. Dunkirk is all the better for it, though I’d still describe it as an oddly low-key affair. As wartime dramas go it’s not particularly explosive or action-packed (not for the want of trying on occasions) nor does it thankfully adopt the typical forced sentimentality that perverts Hollywood war dramas generally. You’ll see no scene in which a soldier heroically carries another across a battlefield, in an act of courage seldom ever seen. Neither will you see one in which a brave comrade dies in another soldiers arms for us all to spontaneously burst into floods of tears. Dunkirk in the main avoids many of these pitfalls, those sappy sickly moments that you see coming a mile off. This largely plays it straight in terms of it’s characters it’s story, there’s little sense here this is (sorry for the pun) gunning for an Oscar. This does not appear to aim for the title biggest glorious epic 2017, it appears not to be a film that wishes to pull at the heart strings to bag itself umpteen awards.
Would go as far as to say it’s an almost hypnotic experience, especially in the films first quarter. A good half an hour in which barely a soul says a word, as it seems purposely understated in order I assume to capture a solemness, despair and overriding feeling of hopelessness that comes with waiting an inevitable fate i.e. death.. Well possibly!?!? not sure what the aim of the producers was. Some could justifiably claim this to be a soulless empty experience and frankly boring. The lack of character development, narrative the overall sparsity of dialogue throughout and especially in the early moments of the film could be enough to put off any viewer. The last thing you want in a war film is a disconnect between yourself and the characters you are meant to root and care for as they battle against unfathomable odds. Maybe a sprinkle of Hollywood stardust wouldn’t have gone amiss after all??. I enjoyed the film for what it’s worth though can understand why some would find it as previously stated an empty soulless experience and not particularly entertaining.
Getting The Balance Right
Me personally I’d rather see the latter something a little less forced, over indulgent and more understated. Though this lack of balance hurts both Hollywood movies and this when it comes to creating a truly hard-hitting and realistic portrayal of war. To much either way can have a detrimental effect, it’s vitally important in this genre that there is a healthy mix between the sheer brutality of war, comradeship, hope and grief without to much over emphasis on one aspect over another.
Quite telling is the the lack of budget which seems to hinder Dunkirk when it comes to recreating a realistic view of battle for example. By no means is it lacking in splendour, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Navel ships go down with little more than a whimper, they basically catch fire and sink as if shot down and destroyed by pea-shooters. The initially exciting dogfights become a little less so as they repeat over and over. Though visually impressive they’re not the most spectacular in terms of scope, as we see 3 or 4 max battle it out in the skies. That’s not to say they haven’t managed to successfully capture the utter hopelessness a large number of Belgians, British, and French troops faced, those who were cut off and surrounded by German troops in Dunkirk awaiting evacuation. Would be fair to surmise however this has not been achieved by visual means but more due to a fine cast who do a good job of making you believe in their struggles. Which is testament to them despite the brevity of dialogue throughout.
We Shall Never Surrender
This was an event in history which many maybe aware preceded one of the most famous speeches ever to be broadcast. Given by the then Prime minister of England Winston Churchill in which he said. “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds” etc etc.. You know the one, I can’t help feel the films final act in which that speech may or may not have featured (nudge nudge) is a big factor in why the praise has been lavished upon Dunkirk. A bold statement yes? but such is the significance, weight of power the speech carried throughout not only the UK but the world that it maybe did have somewhat of an effect on peoples thinking and opinion on the film overall. Regardless of that I enjoyed Dunkirk, there’s no denying it’s lacking in certain areas and does feel oddly empty throughout.. That is possibly why I enjoyed it in fact as it has an atmosphere all of it’s own making, an almost surreal sense of hopelessness pervades that is then replaced by a feeling of total euphoria by a satisfying pay off at it’s climax. Which could go for moments in my life I best not get into hey.