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Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a 2017 film about the evacuation from beaches near the town of Dunkirk during World War II. Christopher Nolan directed, wrote, and co-produced the movie which stars Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies and The BFG), and Kenneth Branagh (Chariots of Fire, Valkyrie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).

The movie is rated PG-13. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.

I’ve had to inform several people that this movie is based on real events. For other victims of our failing school system let me provide some perspective on the miracle of Dunkirk. The first scene of this movie occurs at the end of May 1940. The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and other countries have already surrendered to the Nazis. France is teetering toward collapse. The decimated armies of several countries are hanging on with their backs to the sea as they face an overwhelming Nazi army. Surrender seemed inevitable.

Then the miracle began to unfold. The Nazis halted their advance. By the end of the first day less than 8,000 allied soldiers had been evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day over 338,000 had been rescued, many by civilian fishing boats, yachts, and tugs. If those soldiers had not been rescued from Dunkirk it is doubtful that Britain could have fought on against the Nazis and World War II would have been a vastly different war.

I think that because I knew the history of these events it added a level of tension for me. If you came to this movie expecting a typical war film you would probably be disappointed. This isn’t even a typical movie. There is little character development and no character arc. We see people as they struggle with a very desperate situation. People don’t grow during the course of the movie they exist.

Early on during the film scenes would go from day to night and back to day, but events showed that days weren’t elapsing. I thought we might be seeing events from different points of view, but this didn’t alleviate all of my confusion. While doing research after the movie, I read this on Wikipedia;

“The narrative follows three major threads covering different periods of time: one beginning on land covering one week, one on the sea covering one day, and one in the air covering one hour. These are interwoven to create a non-linear narrative.”

While I felt the film had excellent tension the “non-linear narrative,” took me out of the story as I struggled to understand. Only a few of the characters were interesting or developed to any degree.

I left the theater thinking I had seen a good movie, perhaps even a movie that had reached for greatness but hadn’t quite achieved it. Recommendations for some movies, especially the bad ones, are easy. This movie was difficult. I came close to saying buy the ticket, but I’m going to recommend you Wait and Rent Dunkirk.