“DUNKIRK” – 6 1/2
In a word: Nerve-wracking
This is an unusual movie as it has no stand-out male actors and no females at all. Neither did we see any minorities, nor did we hear any significant foul language. But we did hear guns, bombs, screams and crashes to the highest of decibels which caused me, my wife and our two friends to constantly cover our ears. Add to that, the loudness of haunting deep music strains to accent the horror, played throughout the film to a point of virtual annoyance.
The entire movie from beginning to end is set in the 1940 beaches of Dunkirk, France (near the Belgium border) and the English Channel, where British, Belgian, French and Dutch were trapped, at the will of Nazi air raids where it was like picking off ducks in a barrel. The horrific assaults on land and sea caused over 350,000 casualties among allied forces. That does not include the 40,000 that were taken captive nor does it include the German casualty numbers.
The assault followed the invasion of German forces into France, just weeks before they would march through Paris. The allies were desperate to evacuate, but that would not succeed until after the eight days of fighting were over.
One scene after another, for two hours, of planes diving, bombs bursting, men screaming, guns firing, ships listing while fear and horror and sheer desperation blanketed the entire movie, beginning to end.
It should be noted, that over 300,000 successful rescues took place, thus saving the British, not only from defeat at the battle, but certain invasion of British shores. Nearly one thousand boats, small and large, were involved in this 8-day operation.
Look for Oscar nominations for cinematography and special effects. But not for acting, writing or story line. Half the time, it was difficult to hear the actor’s dialogue because of background noise and/or thick British accents that were not discernible. Perhaps the IMAX theater systems had an affect.
This movie was about the masses. It had no primary actors, other than a few shots of a tugboat operator trying to rescue soldiers in the water, and another British commander in a few scenes mulling the situation and barking orders. To my mind, the basic necessity in any plot is character development. That was missing in this flick.
At the end, our two friends declared the movie as terrible. To be objective as movie-making goes, it truly was a humongous and spectacular accomplishment for the director, Christopher Nolan who is known for past films about Batman, Dark Knight and Man of Steel most of which are high grade for special effects and low grade in acting. No high-paid stars in this flick, leaving a lot of physical discretion in spending the 150 million dollar budget that went to writers, directors, sets, equipment, battles and hardware instead. According to Wikipedia, about six thousand extras were also used in the shoot.
It’s a spectacular war movie, depicting a nightmarish battle at the beginning of WWII. There were a half million personal stories lining those beaches, none of which we will know about.
This is one of those pictures that will divide the opinions into two camps: Love it, or hate it.
I give the movie 6 1/2 out of 10.
p.s. Bring ear plugs