This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

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This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Broadsword » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:12 am

So, I went to see Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' last night and wanted to say a few things about it, or at least wanted to write stuff down to help me process my thoughts. It's fair to say that this will be spoiler heavy, so for God's sake don't even think about reading this until either A) you've seen the film, or B) you've decided to never see the film. Or I suppose C) you've been hit in the head and lost the ability to form short term memories, in which case you can read this today and still go out and watch the film tomorrow without being affected by what follows.

To be honest, I'm going to recommend option A. Go see the film, preferably in the biggest, loudest, most ridiculous 'look-at-the-size-of-that-thing-o-vision' format that you can get tickets for. Don't read any further till you have...






















OK, so anyone who reads the rest of this has only themselves to blame.

The reason I wanted to write some of this stuff down is because so far I'm really getting the impression that everybody who's been to see this movie pretty much thinks it's awesome. And I don't. And so I wanted to put down in writing some of my reasons for swimming against the herd, because for some reason it feels important. See, the reasons that I didn't like this movie are complex and personal and perhaps slightly odd, so it's not like me saying I don't like Transformers 8 because it's a pile of stinking excrement and having everyone nod sagely and agree with me. I'm aware that not liking Dunkirk probably puts me in a fairly small minority, not least of which because if I look at online reviews from people that I kind of trust, I find that everything they say about why this is a good movie is absolutely spot on. All the bits they praise are definitely praise-worthy, no argument. It's just that nobody seems to be talking at all about the things that spoil this film for me, so I feel like they're only telling half the story.

So let's cut to the chase - what's good, what's bad, and why did the overall impact fall on the bad side of the fence for me?

First of all, let's just briefly address all the things that other reviewers have discussed and praised. Yes, it looks great - not 'wow, amazing, look at the visual feast' great like Star Wars or the Wizard of Oz or something, but just amazingly clear and real and lifelike and, well, true. Nolan pulls off the neat trick of putting you right there in the heart of events with a clarity that is often breathtaking. When Stukas bomb the beach it feels like you can see every grain of sand being blasted skyward. When ships go under the water looks delicate and dangerous and real, hell it almost feels real. And it's not just the physical 'stuff' of it all. The cold looks real, the bleakness looks real, the despair and hope and horror and tension all feel incredibly authentic and convincing without being stupid and overblown and overwhelming.

And speaking of tension, the sound is spot on. Not just the effects, ranging from the loudest bangs to the quietest most subtle little drips and rustles, which all seem to be pitched just perfectly to maintain that feeling of realism, but also the score, if that's the right word for Hans Zimmer's musical accompaniment which often feels like the physical realisation of the incredible tension that the characters and audience are all feeling. It never seems to really be a tune except when it breaks out into Elgar's 'Nimrod', and that's fine because in many ways a tune would be out of place and reduce the realism of the piece. Instead it's a feeling, an extra thread to the visuals, weaving in and around the complex timeline and supporting it so symbiotically that most of the time you don't even notice it's there. Ticking clocks, orphaned notes and Shepard tones all help to make us feel very uncomfortable.

As an aside, I can't give enough praise for the deftness with which this film pulls off something I didn't know was possible - the inescapable emotional punch of a 'moment', something which American movies with American subjects seem to pull off annoyingly well despite my best efforts to resist them. You see it in all sorts of films, the employment of a rising tension, cranking things up notch by notch in a 'will he/won't he' sequence until success is suddenly granted, then at the moment of release the score hits you with a big uplifting surge of patriotic music which pushes our emotions over the edge and threatens to bring a tear to the eye. You can find it in Independence Day, Armaggedon, Saving Private Ryan etc. etc. etc., but my personal favourite is in Apollo 13. The radio blackout as the capsule re-enters the atmosphere seems to last longer in the film than it did in real life, and when James Horner's mournful trumpets and clarinets, and his rumbling bass drum undercurrent explode into full orchestral joy as Tom Hanks says, "Hello Houston, this is Odyssey, it's good to see you again," I get unavoidably teary every time. But I always thought that the effect came from the slightly cloying, saccharine nature of Yank storytelling combined with that particular kind of trumpety orchestral piece that seems to say, "America! Fuck, yeah!" I never in a million years expected that you could get that same feeling from what is quite honestly a clipped, restrained, very British kind of atmosphere and a piece of Elgar. But when those beer bottles get passed through the train window and Zimmer lets 'Nimrod' swell up and really fly (not as an oomphy orchestral piece still, but just louder and fuller and for once being allowed to take centre stage) the release of tension from answering the question, "is everyone going to hate us now?" in the negative is just as emotionally irresistable as Apollo 13 answering, "will the astronauts survive?" in the positive. It's a remarkable achievement and entirely of itself makes the preceding ninety minutes of film worth watching.

And let's talk about that British atmosphere. Okay, so this is a blockbuster movie with American money and a half-American Director, but it certainly feels very British. No overblown sentimentality, no Hollywood heroics, everything is tight, restrained and almost unbearably claustrophobic. The performances all give an almost stereotypical picture of emotionally reserved Englishman, not meaning stiff-upper-lipped bravery but rather a bottling up and controlling of fear and longing, hope and despair in order to keep functioning, in a way which feels completely authentic to a lot of people I know. This is supported by Nolan's restrained use of viewpoints - it's a very close, personal, intimate film, no mean feat when filming on a 65mm imax stock. Somehow Nolan manages to take huge sweeping vistas of beach, sea and sky, and bring our eyes in to such delicate, personal details that we feel connected to these characters despite them having very sparse dialogue and no real character arcs to speak of. And when he does turn the great scope of his cameras onto the vastness of the environment, it's never to say, "wow, amazing, look at the spectacle," but rather to say, "oh my God, how awful this place is." The result is a film which does feel, to me at least, authentically British.

Given the perhaps slightly unfashionable need for such restraint, I'd have to say that the actor's performances are excellent. No surprise from Branagh, Rylance et al, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Harry Styles was fine - he didn't stand out from the rest of the cast at all, and if I didn't know who he was from the pre-publicity I wouldn't have thought him any different to the other leads. Even the Guavian Death Gang guy from Star Wars was fine. And it has to be said that Tom Hardy's eyes give one of the best performances I've seen in years. Fine, so we all knew the decision he was going to make, but sometimes conforming to plot expectations is the right move, and when you can show that decision with just a pair of eyes boring through a pair of Mk8 goggles then why wouldn't you? Tom Hardy is proving to be one of the best actors of his generation, and this shows why. I can't imagine the Academy or BAFTA having the nerve to give a Best Actor award to a pair of eyes, but we can dream can't we?

The Germans of course don't appear at all, except facelessly as just aircraft, even more facelessly as bombs, bullets or torpedoes, and then finally as three faceless silhouettes come to capture Tom Hardy, since you need at least the shadow of a body to arrest that guy. This was apparently a conscious decision on Nolan's part early on in the process, just as he chose not to show Churchill, Hitler, the families at home, the rest of France, or indeed anything outside the immediate experience of the triptych stories he wanted to tell. This is a bold choice, and at least on the part of the non-visible Germans I think it comes off well. This is the story of the trapped Tommies, and so that's what he shows us. Fair enough.

As for the couple of little things that some critics have worried over, I actually think they're fine. Yes, the timeline is somewhat confusing, but Nolan trusts his audience to be smart enough to follow it and thanks to the deftness of his direction and editing I think for the most part we are. (Let's be honest, Nolan has always loved playing with time and it may be the dexterity of the way he plays the three threads of Dunkirk into each other that wins him the oscar next year). And yes, there is very little character buildup here to help get us invested in the action, but by placing the audience so squarely in the middle of the action we become invested for a whole different reason - I don't give a shit about the action in Transformers 8 because I haven't been made to care about the weakly drawn characters at all. That could have been true of the characters in Dunkirk except that A) they're not weakly drawn but rather very simply and cleanly drawn, and B) I felt like I was in it with them all the way, so if I didn't really know them it didn't matter, I still cared very much about the outcome. At heart this film is not about the characters we see, it's about the situation, and it's the accomplished portrayal of that situation that gets us invested in things.



So it's all good, right? Everything's fine and I should love this movie? Well, sadly, no. Despite all the things which are genuinely great in this film, I walked away unhappy and the reasons are difficult and frankly somewhat intangible, which is why I started writing it out to see if I could understand it.

Firstly, the big hephalump in the room. The flying stuff is just bunkum. I'm saying this first to get it out of the way because I went into this film knowing that I would't like the flying stuff and was quite prepared to forgive almost anything. If my only worries were about the flying stuff, I would have been a happy man. Nevertheless, before we get onto meatier subjects, let's talk about the planes.

How about starting with the 'where were you lot' factor. Great, we know that a lot of Tommies did feel like this because they hadn't personally seen the RAF's efforts to protect them, but when Mark Rylance pats blonde RAF guy on the shoulder and says, "they know where you were," what he means is, "you were on my boat, helping to fish oily blokes out of the water." This is really not fair. As we know the RAF flew over two thousand fighter sorties during Operation Dynamo, so showing just three Spitfires, only one of which reaches the French coast, is verging on the insulting. Instead of Branagh telling us that they're 'holding back the planes for the same reason they're holding back the ships' (and thus letting the audience think that the RAF really did do sweet FA) he could have told us some of the reality, that the RAF were fighting and dying miles away, trying to stop the German planes from ever reaching Dunkirk.

Next there's the colossal unlikeliness of the whole thing - Tom Hardy shoots down four or five German planes in a single sortie despite being the worst goddam shot in the RAF. "Fair enough," I thought, "maybe Nolan decided that making him lead his targets would confuse an audience of non-fliers, so it's necessary for him to always wait too long before firing." But then I realised that half his audience will be Americans, so they all own guns and should know all about leading your target, and for the other half, well, nearly everyone plays computer games these days and so it's not like leading your target is some mysterious woo-woo dark art. The final nail in this particularly annoying thought-process was discussing it with Mrs. Broadsword later. She neither owns a gun nor plays computer games, but apparently even she was frustratedly pressing an imaginary trigger a second before the boy Hardy did because 'it just felt like he was too late'. If even Mrs. B knew he was doing it wrong then there's a problem.

Next up, that big, fat-faced, canary-nosed Buchon. Oh. My. Dog. Perhaps surprisingly, I have no issue with the yellow snout. I know it's technically inaccurate, but this is cinema and it serves a purpose. As I had suspected, Mrs. B was able to watch the flight scenes and easily keep track of who was who thanks to that big, lemony conk. Even the Heinkel had yellow spinners, and thanks to the lessons learned by staring at the Buchon Mrs. B was able to tell that the 111 was a threat to our gallant swimmers. Teepee take note, Chris Nolan has officially called you out as a Nazi. As a cinematic trick, it definitely worked as intended and caused me no real pain. But for the love of Mary why use that fat-faced Spanish... thing?! With no airworthy Stukas or He 111s Nolan was forced to use a combination of radio-controlled models and CGI, and it worked beautifully. Those planes were never less than convincing. So why not do the same thing for the 109? What on Earth made him decide that a bleedin' Buchon would look more convincing than a properly built Bf 109 model and a few months in Blender? Especially given the aforementioned very early decision to not show the Germans in close-up or in detail anyway? We had no shots of that 109 that put it centre stage as we did with Tom Hardy's spit, so any deficiencies of model-making or CGI were never going to be closely scrutinised. It just beggars belief that they felt that this was the best solution.

The rest of it was I guess stuff that I can put up with. The Spitfire's reserve tanks (that last about five minutes), the Spitfire gliding all the way down the beach, shooting down a 109 EDIT It was a Stuka in mid dive, we all know that's impossible, and gliding all the way back up the beach again after running out of fuel at a thousand feet. Nobody apprently knowing to open the hood before landing in case you get trapped. The Spitfire carrying more bullets than fuel. The fact that they were Spitfires at all (okay, I'm half kidding. It was obvious he'd use Spits instead of Hurries, I get that. But when Mark Rylance identifies a flight of Spitfires without having to turn around because he knows what a Merlin engine sounds like, surely in May 1940 he'd be more likely to expect that sound to mean Hurricanes?) The Heinkel coincidentally crashing close enough to the sinking minelayer to set the oil slick on fire. In part I can forgive all that because it was beautifully filmed and directed, and a lot of it 'worked' despite being jarring to such as we.

With that out of the way, I can get onto the real problems. The things that I'm not ready to forgive. The things that take a film which came so close to being great, a film with so many wonderful parts, and turned the whole thing into a disappointment.

Firstly, the bleakness of it all. I'm not talking about the despair, I mean the environmental emptiness. There were four hundred thousand men on that beach. How often did it look like that? Pretty much never. For most of the film the beaches of Dunkirk looked more like a post-apocalyptic wasteland than a morass of men who were being herded into the sea. Yes, some scenes took place 'further up the beach', but surely it would have been an idea for most of the beach scenes to show lots and lots of men, and only a few to show an everlasting emptiness? And yes, I know that four hundred thousand men is only six or seven decent-sized football stadiums, so it shouldn't be shoulder-to-shoulder Tommies over every inch of a beach that big. But as with the yellow-schnozzled 109s, a little cinematic licence to reinforce the point would not have gone amiss. Show more scenes with more men or risk your audience thinking everyone else had gone home whilst our heroes cowered in a dutch fishing boat.

And yes, I do mean cowered. I'm afraid to say that I didn't get on with the choices Nolan made about what to show. Yes, in an ensemble piece we should see all sides of the action, and it wouldn't be right to show the Brits as all being super-heroic. Of course we want to see fear, and despair, and people being shell-shocked etc. But in this film every main character who isn't Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh or Tom Hardy is verging on LMF. Specifically, the major third of the triptych in which we follow the trapped BEF forces hoping to get home is almost wholly represented by A) the guy who decides to jump the queue because he's so desperate to get out, B) the guy who robs a corpse and pretends not to be French because he's so desperate to get out, and C) the guy who decides that being a French guy is good enough cause to send someone to their death, closely followed by anyone who's friends with a French guy. To reiterate, I have no doubt that stories like this and attitudes like this did happen, perhaps in large numbers, during operation dynamo. But let's not forget the other three hundred and ninety thousand guys who queued up as ordered and didn't try to swamp the boats or jump the queues etc. We barely see those guys in Nolan's film, and I think that does a disservice. Yes, he's careful to show us that people under that sort of pressure aren't evil just because they behave badly, and should still get our sympathy for the plight they're in. At the end of the film I still had sympathy for Harry Styles' fear of failure despite his imperfect behaviour, and that's clearly Nolan's intention. But what about the countless thousands who didn't behave this badly? Who did their duty and waited their turn and in so doing helped the whole thing to go off smoothly? Their stories are the real meat of Operation Dynamo, but their voices are barely heard in this film. Not only does this do a disservice to the queing masses, but also to the ships taking them off - you could leave Nolan's Dunkirk subconsciously feeling that the reason our focus characters got home at all was beause they personally never gave up, not because the cockleshell heroes also rescued hundreds of thousands of men who queued up as ordered. It's an important distortion of our view of things, and goes to the heart of my dislike of the film. In fact, I'd call it one of two main issues I have, so consider everything else apart from the ending to be a lesser gripe.

Another problem is the abruptness of the film. The decision not to show the Germans, or the politicians, or the familes at home, and so on, is all well and good and in many ways works out well. But one way that it doesn't work is in forcing the film to begin inside the claustrophobic confines of Dunkirk itself. This gives no opportunity to show why any of this is happening, and so we are treated to an atrociously blunt intro basically telling us, in an incredibly Nolan-esque sans serif white on black text card, that "the bad guys are pushing the good guys into the sea - act one - scene one - go!" Whatever happened to 'show, don't tell'? My heart sank when I read that card, because it was just so lacking in any kind of finesse. I was also slightly disturbed that he chose not to name the Germans as the aggressors, instead choosing to say "The enemy has surrounded British and French forces...". At the time I wondered if the world had become so amazingly PC that we no longer accuse the Germans of invading France in 1940, or at least not by name, but with hindsight I think this little piece of semantic gymnastics is actually linked to Nolan's decision to not actually show the Germans in the film - I think he felt that this should extend to his horrible little intro card, a decision which is clearly wonky and results in an unforgivably unecessary jarring of the suspension of disbelief during the first seconds of the film. In the 1958 Ealing version of Dunkirk we see John Mills leading a weary band of Tommies across France and into Dunkirk, and through their journey, their conversations and their questions we learn everything we need to know about the situation quite organically. Nolan's artistic decision to not show us the Germans, not show us anything outside Dunkirk, and to give his characters almost no dialogue, may work on many many levels, but it leaves him having to fall back uncomfortably on a pretty ugly exposition piece.

Finally, 'The End'. That is to say, the way that Nolan chose to wrap up the film. I don't mean the unlikely decision by Mark Rylance to ferry his oily passengers two hundred miles to Dorset instead of just fifty miles to Dover (a decision apparently echoed by enough of his fellow civilian captains for the railhead to be crammed with men), but rather the newspaper passage that our hero Tommy reads out to assuage Harry Styles' guilt. I'm happy to accept that Churchill's speech is being reported in the paper, despite the timing being a little tight (after all, Mark Rylance dragged them all the way to Dorset so for all we know it's 1943 by now). And I agree of course that Churchill's speech is the obvious (and perhaps best) way to wrap up the story of Operation Dynamo. And I also agree that after a film that focuses almost fetishistically on the simple Tommy it's right to have the speech read out of the paper rather than having a voice over or suddenly cutting to Churchill in Parliament etc. But for the love of God, if you're going to edit down a 3,700 word speech (which obviously you have to) to just a couple of paragraphs then could you not be a little more careful with said editing?

Before I went to see Dunkirk I was talking to a friend about films, and the tendency of Hollywood to feel uncomfortable if the Yanks aren't the heroes. After seeing Ben Affleck win the Battle of Britain, and Matthew McConaughey capture the Enigma, I told him that the only American I could accept seeing in a Dunkirk movie would be Joe Kennedy telling Churchill that it was all hopeless and that the USA wasn't going to get involved and that Britain should sue for peace. So well done to Nolan for not injecting a fake US contingent, a reporter or plucky fisherman who was just visiting the UK and just had to offer his help, or indeed anything for the first 105 minutes that would be, shall we say, thematically regrettable. But why, for the love of all that's holy did you not stop Churchill's speech with, "We will never Surrender!" Why was it necessary to finish the film with, "until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old." I mean, after 105 minutes of seeing plucky British reserve and efficiency clawing British victory from the jaws of British defeat, why was it necessary to frame the whole thing as just a prelude to the Yanks arrival? Why the compulsion to shift the focus away from what the BEF, the RAF, the RN and the civilians had achieved, onto "let's hope we can just survive until the good ol' US of A comes to save us"? It was unnecessary, jarring, distasteful and disrespectful. We all know that historically, Churchill was trying to call out the US and get them into the fight. From a historical and rhetorical viewpoint Churchill was dead right to throw in that little tidbit, because he had to look to the future and he was determined to get the US on side. But this film is not looking to the future. It is, as we have said, entirely about the event itself. So it should end with the bits that are about the consequences of Dunkirk - we've saved our army, we live to fight another day, and that's exactly what we intend to do. It would be another eighteen months until Pearl Harbor got the Yanks up off their arses, so making them the final focus of the film is just ridiculous. Stop the speech at "We will Never Surrender!" and have done. Blech.


So there you go. My disappointed view of Dunkirk. There is so much here to like, so much that I'm glad I went to see, so much that is beautifully done that I can applaud with the part of my mind that loves movies. But sadly there is just too much that the other parts of me, the parts that love the history, but also the parts that love fairness and honesty and common sense and consistency just can't get along with. Watch it, enjoy it, savour the technical achievement, but what a film it could have been...


Anyhoo, that's enough from me. Anyone else have any thoughts on this one? Agree? Disagree? Love it? Hate it?
Last edited by Broadsword on Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Boyezee » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:09 am

Phew, I'm not the only one then that didn't love it!

I didn't enjoy it and was very disappointed, I will admit that I haven't read all of your post Broadsword but will later, but a few items that put me off...

I felt it was very slow paced and actually found myself getting bored.

For me the musical score contributed to my boredom, it never really dropped or raised just kept going on in the background so I didn't ever get a sense of tension during 'tense' moments, just got numb to it.

The film didn't get anywhere near to showing the scale of Dunkirk, just a few aircraft and ships.

The flying stuff...I decided that before I watched it that I wasn't going to be anal about the detail and accept it was a film but I was still disappointed with it for the reasons you have described.
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Atreides » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:01 pm

Just watched it today. Just like the rest of the theatre we sat there for some time after the film ended in silence. Incredible. So many scenes seemed to appoximate reality closely. The moments like in the small boat on the beach which was used for target practice. Where is the next bullet going to strike. Who is going to live or die. The terrifying moments with the sirenes of the Stuka's, knowing people are going to die and feeling like you are on the beach next to the main character. The fantastic acting by among others Kenneth Branagh, who'se facial expressions made you feel the ominous approach of doom before you even heard or saw the Stuka.

All during the movie this was the case. It was like you were there with the main characters.
Sure, you never see 400.000 people together (btw at the time a lot of them would've been in the dunes for cover and not on the beach). The beach scenes were impressive enoigh as they were. Like in the movie Gladiator it could've been enhanced with CGI of course, making the masses seem bigger, but they chose to keep these effects at a minimum. And I applaud that. Besides (as a side thought, not meant in response to others in this thread :) ) CGI should not always be used like George Lucas does. Often it is used as a surrogate for a good movie. I think this is a good movie on it's own. It shows what needs to be shown up close and personal, and is aln the more personal because of it.

With regard to the planes, as a virtual 109 pilot I don't mind in the slightest a Spanish built 109 substituting for one with a Daimler Benz engine. Having that Spanish 109 instead be computerised at that close range (unlike the Heinkels and Stukas which were not that maneuverable close up) would've not looked that good. I did find it peculiar seeing a Spit low on fuel making a flypass past the beach with flaps down, and shooting down a Stuka a minute after it was shown heading the other way without an engine, but then again, wow. That flypass looked beautiful and the relief of the Stuka not killing Kenneth was great (also, I finally know how to work the manual gear lever now :) ).

Even though we knew how it would end, them following a few individuals made knowing the outcome of operation Dynamo irrelevant, because even though over 300.000 were saved, you don't know if the people you are closely following (btw, awesome work making these different timelines meet) are going to survive and neither did people know that back then. In that respect I'm also happy they didn't involve the leadership on both sides. This was a movie making it very close and personal, about the individuals who were on the battlefield itself facing an overwhelming enemy presence closing in. Most of them not knowing about the operation underway or if they were to survive. Not showing the Germans was brilliant, I did not expect that. It made being encircled and under attack all the more menacingly. Having the speech of Churchill read by one of the survivors was also a good choice. This was not another movie showing Churchill or Goering. Not a redo of the battle of Britain. Not a documentary with extensive explanations about the situation. This was about the experience of human prey who against all odds managed to escape being a trap because of incredible acts of individual bravery.

Personally I also liked the musical interpretation of among others Nimrod by Hans Zimmer. The violins were never too intruding. It wasn't too bombastic. Sometimes it was even hard to notice the music was there. I like this direction he is going since Interstellar.

I didn't expect too much of the movie and was pleasantly surprised. I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the final scene of a burning Spitfire on the beach (if only we had in our ammunition what that pilot had in his flare gun ;) ).

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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Biggs » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:39 pm

I cant believe I'm saying this, but I completely agree with Atreides on this...

Going into it I was already telling myself to forget about the bouchons and the other things and just take the whole movie in. I thoroughly enjoyed Nolan's story telling... The way the took 3 different paths and wove them together was well exicuted. And I was surprised at how emotional the end of the film was... Zimmer's take on 'Nimrod' was powerful and added so much weight to that scene...

I even can forgive the perpetually gliding Tom Hardy... and the fact that he had both automatic and manual landing gear in the same plane.... Or the fact that their fuel gauge read all the way up to 70 some odd gallons when they first started checking... There is probably a list a mile long of all the things that were not perfectly represented in this film, but at the end of the day even if all were corrected, it would not have made the film any more powerful or enjoyable.

And just like Atreides' showing, everyone at mine sat in complete silence for quite a while... It clearly made an impression.
2./JG52... coming soon.

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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Tex » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:59 am

Rare that I disagree with Broadsword, but I do. I liked Dunkirk. As an American, I totally missed Broadies' take that the final scene reading Churchill's speech implied the good ol USA was on the way. I know that part of the story and did not see that in it at all. From a US perspective, my take was that it was a rather good way to quote the speech without a John Lithgow or someone else doing a bad Churchill impression. The focus in my mind was the fact that these two soldiers were sitting on the train thinking they had failed and then were inspired by the words of an articulate leader. In this day and age of tweeting and vapid presidents, that is saying something. I could sense the depths that the UK must have felt in. Their allies on the continent soundly defeated, the German war machine poised to strike and absolutely nothing going well. And then, salvation comes from the most unlikely sort. The common person.
No American film "Rambo" who single handed wipes out the threat by tying some jury rigged machine back together in a nick of time. Instead, there is loss, their is cowardice, there is bravery and there is hope.
As for the Bouchon, didn't we all know it was going to be there? The unfortunate dearth of airworthy 109Es making that a certainty. Since childhood, seeing the fat nosed stand ins in the Battle of Britain movie, I have always known they don't look right but always known that they are the closest thing we can get. I also noticed how the Tiger's road and drive wheels were wrong in Saving Private Ryan, and yet it did not distract from the overall impact of the film. I run in to the same thing making scale models. There are some people who pick apart any little detail that is "wrong" and miss the overall impact of the work. (Of course, I struggle with this myself.)
Count me down as someone who enjoyed the film despite its shortcomings and faults. I suspect nothing else like it is due to come around any time soon. In fact, I think the next comparable film will be release just after Team Fusion finishes its mods.
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Matt » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:18 am

Did anyone notice who the controller was at the start taking to the pilots ????
I've read somewhere that they actually landed a spit on a beach for the filming of that? Don't know if it's true

I saw it yesterday in 70mm and was blown away... I had a great uncle who got taken off the beaches at Dunkirk ....saw something in the papers saying a veteran said the film was spot on to what it was like..
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Biggs » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:34 am

Matt wrote:Did anyone notice who the controller was at the start taking to the pilots ????
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Atreides » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:54 am

Biggs wrote:I cant believe I'm saying this, but I completely agree with Atreides on this...
:shock: :nice:

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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Thaine » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:44 am

I now want to see it mainly because I want to read Broadswords post.
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Post by Grumpy » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:04 pm

A point slightly tangential to Bradsword's with respect to the flying sequences, Mrs. B's observations, etc.

Not long before we saw the film, Grumpette and I were driving up the West Side of Manhattan and I saw a bus with a big advert for the film on its side. I mentioned it to her and, as we discussed it, I mentioned to her about how the ACG crowd were in (relatively) high dudgeon about the anachronistic yellow-nosed 109s and other technical details.

Now Grumpette is a very prominent and well-known historian (who is, unfortunately, not the very least bit interested in aviation) and she was puzzled by the alleged inaccuracies. "I mean," she said,"they do hire historians for these films, after all."

"That's just the point," I replied, "they hire historians, but they don't hire history buffs. Historians care about social structures, narrative, historiographic reference, and, even when dealing with individual narratives, how these fit into the larger picture of a society at that given time. History buffs care about details that many historians see as almost irrelevant- squadron markings, yellow noses, and the like. If movies hired some of the people from ACG (and they could pay them a lot less) the movies would look right."

That said, having seen the film, I found myself wondering if the yellow noses on the Buchons were a matter of artistic license insofar as it allowed the general audience (who, let's face it, don't share our obsession and wouldn't know the difference between a Spit and a Spad) to readily identify the "goodies" from the "baddies" (with apologies to my friends in the ACG staffeln :D ).

One final note, after having seen the film (which we both liked, BTW) we were discussing he flying scenes and Grumpette wondered why Hardy was taking so long to shoot, "I mean," she said, "he wasn't leading the target at all." Grumpette is the very opposite of Broadsword's fanciful notion of a gun-loving Second Amendment-defending American (she does enjoy a good war movie, though, and even more a bad one). But even SHE noticed that.
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Nor law nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds.
A lonely impulse of delight
Led to this tumult in the clouds

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