So we saw “Dunkirk” this evening. A box office success. All my friends seem to think it’s a great film. Wish I thought the same, but it left me cold.
Now I’m not generally a fan of war movies. Maybe that has something to do with it. And maybe not.
The Dunkirk evacuation was really a miracle. In many respects. One was simply the evacuation of about 350,000 troops, British and French, from the beach at Dunkirk to the relative safety of England in less than ten days. (About 1/3 of those evacuated were French, but you wouldn’t know that from the film.) They were able to escape because, for reasons not fully understood even today, the German ground troops did not pursue them once they had them encircled. (The film did not discuss this aspect of the situation and did not speculate on whether Germany would have won the war if they had not stopped advancing.)
It is true that Churchill thought only about 30,000 troops would be rescued. And it’s true that the Germans did attack the evacuation vessels from the air and at sea. Apparently Britain and Germany lost a comparable number of planes, but the British got the worst of it at sea. From what I read, Britain lost about 25% of the ships involved with the rescue, about 200 of 800.
And that leads me to my big question. I read that Britain lost about 11,000 men who were being evacuated, while over 200,000 Brits were saved. How is that possible if 200 ships went down?
Back to the film. The film was filled with continual acts of extraordinary courage. Every British soldier was a hero (of the “able to leap over tall buildings at a single bound” variety). Jumping off sinking ships, swimming for hours dressed in full battle gear in the always cold English Channel. Showing enormous courage while being strafed by German planes. Yes, every man a hero. No one was afraid, no one fell apart (except for the pilot rescued out of the Sea after being shot down), no one hesitated. How realistic is that?
The plot (or rather the three plots) were hard to follow, and I missed at least half the dialogue. (“Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?”)
We saw the film at the Avalon, and I think that colored my thinking as well. This film requires an IMAX.
So there you have it. Interesting to watch. Made me think. But a great film? Not to me.