Movie: Dunkirk (2017) #Oscars #BestPicture

Beware of some spoilers:

I wanted this one to be excellent. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but IMHO not excellent.  You see, I am hearing impaired.  I have a hard time with busy noise in real life and in movies.  Because of busy noise, my good ear sometimes cannot compensate enough for the bad one and what are words can sound like they are being spoken from inside a closed pillowcase.  Christopher Nolan, the director of this movie, decided to use, what seems to me, less dialogue than in any other war movie I have ever watched.  War movies hold a place with me because I watched them often with my Pawpaw.  So when one hits the Oscars, I am intrigued.  But with most war movies, you have dialogue that occurs oftentimes away from the direct battle.  With this movie, Nolan had little dialogue and the dialogue that was there had  busy noise around it a lot of the time.  My good ear struggled to compensate and a lot of the times I felt as if I had missed something.  Already struggling with the hearing, this movie had three timelines that did not match up.  I was a bit confused understanding how one fellow was in two timelines.  At one point I was like: ok, it is dark in this timeline and daylight in that one but wait that guy was in this one but here he is over here.  There is an article to explain the hard to follow timelines: HERE.  I was relieved to find I was not alone on that.

War movies reminds me that I made it through high school without taking a single history class.  How, you might ask?  Substitute classes and counselors who were not on their game.  I took: Psychology, World Events, Economics and World Cultures.  I never had a single history class and I am a lesser person because of it.  I like watching historical fiction and then trying to look up information as the show goes along to learn the things that “actually” occurred and use the show as a reminder of the true context.  I do love reading about snippets of history but to read a history book was always like being weighed down by a cinder-block chained to my ankle.  My Dad stopped at every brown sign we passed on vacations, if a field had a cannon in it on the east coast, odds are we visited it.  The majority of history I learned was from Daddy in state parks.  So, that this was a war movie that was a part of English history – I had zero knowledge of it or the events that occurred surrounding the subject.

The two paragraphs above will be why I do not pick this as my favorite to win best picture.  BUT, “eyes of the beholder” and all, I would be interested in hearing from others.

Thoughts I had during the movie:

  • Yay I found an Oscar movie Bobby will watch with me.  And he can answer my war plane questions.
  • The boat name of the civilian vessel we are following is Moonstone.  A very nice blog on the inspiration for that boat and it’s captain can be found HERE
  • A quick search of how many perished at this event gave a statistic that called the French the “last stand men”.  A quick search found an article explaining how many cities in France are upset that the French were not recognized for being the people who barricaded against imposing forces and who allowed the evacuation to occur.  In the movie these people are the ones behind the sandbags in the opening scenes and who the English soldier runs past to make his way to the shore.  The article I read on that subject can be found HERE.
  • It is interesting that this film notes “Shivering Officer” and “Irate Officer” for parts instead of names.  Shivering Officer is the man pulled from the boat by the civilian we follow and who knocks the young boy down the stairs.  The actor who portrayed Shivering Officer is Cillian Murphy of Peaky Blinders fame.  To scroll the characters looking for who played the part, “Shivering Officer” gives me the impression that it is a small part that doesn’t even warrant the naming of the character.

Some Interviews:

IMDB Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.



Additional Movie Info:

It received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 93% Fresh.  It received a Rotten Tomato audience rating of 81% liking it.  Average Rating: 4/5 with a number of User Ratings: 64,778.

Movie Reviews:

Specs:  Release date: 21 July 2017 (USA) / Runtime: 106 minutes / Budget: $100M

IMDB Trivia:

  • According to actor-director Kenneth Branagh, roughly 30 Dunkirk survivors, who were in their mid-90s, attended the premiere in London. When asked about the film, they felt that it accurately captured the event but that the soundtrack was louder than the actual bombardment, a comment that greatly amused director Christopher Nolan.
  • After first-hand accounts of the Dunkirk evacuation revealed to Christopher Nolan how young and inexperienced the soldiers were, he decided to cast young and unknown actors for the beach setting.
  • The ticking sounds that serve as a crucial theme on the film’s score were recorded by composer Hans Zimmer from one of director Christopher Nolan‘s own pocket watches. He then put the sounds into synthesizers and altered them in different ways for the soundtrack.
  • The movie used over 50 boats on the sea.
  • The end credits state that 12 of the original little ships that participated in the Dunkirk evacuation appear in the film, re-enacting their presence in 1940.
  • In the film many soldiers cursed the Royal Air Force for not protecting them from the Luftwaffe bombers. What is not mentioned at all is that the RAF was already out, attacking the bombers sent to bomb the soldiers on the beaches, and the bombers that did attack were only the ones that got past the fighters. These dogfights occurred more inland from Dunkirk, which is why the soldiers on the beaches didn’t see many fighters during the evacuation, and why they thought the RAF had abandoned them.
  • Charles Lightoller, the most senior surviving officer of the RMS Titanic, participated in the Dunkirk evacuation with his private motor yacht, “The Sundowner”. The craft has been preserved by the Ramsgate Maritime Museum in England.
  • The city of Dunkirk wanted parts of the movie to be filmed in the original setting. The city government created a cinema department to promote and organize filming in the city. They got 207 days of filming in the first 18 months from different projects.
  • If you look up the location on Google Maps (Street View), on Dunkirk beach you can see them building the initial alleyway that Tommy runs through to get to the beach. Barriers with “film” signs attached can be seen. Zooming in, you can see that much of the background detail is identical to the film. Only road signs have been removed; the 1920s-style light with glass ball shade was there originally. 15 Digue de Mer 59240 Dunkerque France
  • Mr. Dawson’s boat is flying a blue ensign flag (because he was a member of a yacht club and/or was retired Royal Navy); most of the other boats are flying the red ensign, which designates a merchant ship.
  • The parallels between the experiences of Mark Rylance‘s small boat and that of “Sundowner” (taken to Dunkirk by Cmdr. C.H. Lightoller, DSC, RNR (Retd.)) can be read on pages 201-3 of “Dunkirk” by A.D. Divine (published in 1945). Lightoller (previously second officer and most senior surviving crew member of RMS Titanic) took as crew his son and a sea scout; he picked up survivors from a returning motor cruiser and took them back to Dunkirk, “giving them the additional pleasure of again facing the hell they had only just left”; his youngest son Brian (lost flying his Blenheim in the first air raid on Wilhelmshaven) had previously given him advice on evasive tactics and he used them to evade a German fighter that made three unsuccessful attempts to sink the boat then gave up and flew away. The stoker P.O. assisting disembarkation of 130 men did ask where he had put them. One surprise is that several equally dramatic incidents in this account were not used in the film, so perhaps they were working from a different version of Lightoller’s story.
  • American billionaire Dan Friedkin, an avid vintage military aviation collector, allowed the production to use two Mk1 Spitfires from his collection for the film. The planes are valued at $5 million each, and his collection is so large that the only person who owns more Spitfires than him is the Queen.
  • Of the 40,000+ British soldiers captured, who fought the rear guard, 10,000+ were Scottish. However, there is only one notable inclusion in this adaptation of the 51st Highlanders.
  • “Xylonite” was the name for one of the rescue sailboats seen in the trailer. It is open to visitors and stationed at Maldon Essex.



Interesting articles to read:


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