Sunday, July 23, 2017


On Friday I went to see Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. This was the movie I most anticipated this summer.

The reviews have been almost unanimously positive, with two exceptions. Some of the critics complained about the three interwoven timelines (panned as "NolanTime"), and many of them pointed out that it's difficult to understand the dialogue.

The film is quite good, but it's not on the level of Saving Private Ryan. My biggest complaint tracks the second critique noted above: I didn't have a clue, most of the time, what the soldiers and airmen were saying to one another. In addition, I could not tell the soldiers apart, so I was uncertain how their stories fit together and developed.

Notwithstanding those complaints, Dunkirk is outstanding at the impressionistic level. The camera angles and motion are dramatic, particularly those involving the aerial dogfights. The soundtrack adds to the visual imagery (I particularly liked the ticking clock effect), and the emotions on the various actors' faces are compelling (Mark Rylance stands out).

I've just done a bit of reading about Dunkirk, because my major question after seeing the film is how the British allowed themselves to get "trapped" on the beach there. This battle occurred quite early in the war (late May to early June of 1940), so I was uncertain of why the British army retreated to the coast, rather than digging in elsewhere along the lines of World War I. I do not yet understand the underlying strategy that led them to Dunkirk, and I'll need to do some additional reading.

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