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Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk

628 words

Czech version here

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s most emotionally powerful movie. It deals with the evacuation of 400,000 British, Canadian, and French troops trapped on the beach at Dunkirk after being defeated by the Germans in the Second World War.

Dunkirk is a strange work, especially for Christopher Nolan, who typically directs long films with complex plots, extensive character development, and lots of dialogue. Dunkirk, however, is only 106 minutes long. There is no single storyline.The movie consists almost entirely of action sequences. There is a large cast, but most of the characters have no names. Most of the actors are unknowns. The few big names have small parts. There is no real character development. There is hardly any dialogue.

The story simply begins at Dunkirk. There is almost no context. The Germans are referred to simply as the “enemy.” German aircraft are seen during the movie, but German soldiers appear on screen only in the final minutes, and I never saw a swastika. It is mentioned that the enemy tanks stopped, but no reason is given. (The answer is that Hitler was too kind to the British.)

Instead of a single storyline, there are three: soldiers trying again and again to escape from the beach, fighter pilots providing cover for the evacuation, and a private boat joining the rescue flotilla. The storyline of the beach escapees is the most harrowing and depressing. The stories of the pilots and the boat are the most inspiring. The film moves between the three storylines, but in a non-linear fashion, made most clear when daytime and nighttime scenes are intercut.

Dunkirk is masterful at creating suspense. The cutting between the three storylines makes it feel less like a story and more like a musical fugue. The soundtrack by Nolan’s frequent collaborator Hans Zimmer is dreary, electronic, and industrial. The music and the sound effects are shockingly loud. Again and again, I found myself wincing and squirming in my seat. This is aviation, industry, war, and speed as music — Italian Futurism on film.

But as the movie reaches its conclusion, all the elements fall in place into a series of emotionally shattering climaxes — when Zimmer’s electronic noise melts into Elgar’s Nimrod variation, when we see that the single boat we have followed is part of a vast flotilla, when two young evacuees look out a train window and once again see England’s green and pleasant land, when the wheels go down on a fighter that has run out of fuel. Dunkirk will wring tears from the flintiest hearts. This film is a masterpiece, and Christopher Nolan is one of our greatest living directors.

Naturally, those humorless culture-killing religious fanatics of the diversity cult are complaining that Dunkirk is too white and too male, since not only must white men be engineered out of England’s future, they must be airbrushed out of her past. But Leftists are right to dislike this film. Unlike virtually every other movie about the Second World War, Dunkirk does not serve as propaganda for multiculturalism. It is not a movie about those dirty, Jew-killing Germans, whose deeds — we are constantly told — are somehow the refutation of every nationalistic sentiment, even in the people who fought against them.

Instead, Dunkirk is a movie about England. It is a movie about coming home. It is about the patriotism, social solidarity, ingenuity, hard work, and bravery of countless humble white people whose primary mistake was to trust the leaders who delivered them into two World Wars and are now overseeing their replacement with the scum of the Third World. Leftists fear Dunkirk because it gives white men a glimpse of a nice white country we could someday restore, and the virtues we must find again if we are to defeat the real enemy this time.

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  1. margot metroland
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Nice Trevor review of a film I was vaguely curious about, and may well now see. I’ve admired Nolan ever since Memento. (Batman flicks, not so much.) The Dunkirk story was a big set piece in Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement but the film version was a disappointment.

  2. Pietas
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Clearly there must be a subtext in the choice of material for the film; Nolan is either vapid or brilliant– most likely brilliant. Naturally this will cause martial young people to read up on the backstory and understand what really happened!

    Another great film along the lines I saw just the other night is Land of Mine, a Dutch/German film. This is another recent film that does not depict the Germans as quintessential monsters. It’s truly the most heart wrenching film and piece of history I knew nothing about! Even though it was a relatively obscure foreign film, simply the idea it was distributed and reviewed widely points to a massive sea change in public opinion about ww2.

    I think what may be going on is similar to what Edmund Wilson describes about public opinion on the old south in Patriotic Gore. About 65 years after the war, the south was sort of readmitted to the brotherhood of humanity, and this was sort of heralded by certain cultural sops, such as the Gone With the Wind phenomenon.

    • Otharus
      Posted July 22, 2017 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      ‘Land of Mine’ is Danish-German. I don’t think the powerful Dutch Anne Frank Foundation would allow a Dutch-German film like that being made, nowadays.

      Paul Verhoeven’s 2006 ‘Black Book’ portrays one good German Hauptsturmführer (among otherwise evil nazis of course), but Verhoeven had enough credit having been successful in Hollywood.

      An interesting Dutch WW2 film is ‘Pastorale 1943’ (1978), in which the organized anti-German resistance is portrayed as a bunch of losers and some Jews as traitors, both of their own kind and of the people who tried to help them (a documented historic fact).

  3. M
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Good review and Tyler Cowen (!) linked to this, this’ll probably be your most read review ever.

  4. Gladiator
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Best unbiased war film I have ever seen so far. Great for Nolan to show none of the multicult crap with one black face among the bewildered French awaiting disorderly their turn of evacuation, unlike the British standing politely in line.

    I understood that there was also an under current line of today’s England’s exit of the EU! Nolan is known for his ‘populist’ views.

  5. Off The street
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Movie timing may be a consideration in any review. Why this movie at this time? Given the lead time to produce a film, any potential link to Brexit or other current events may be tenuous. That might not stop viewers from making any links, erroneous or not, between fortress Britain and the rest of that world across the Channel.

    Will viewers interpret the story as pure history, showing courage, civility and determination in the face of potential disaster? There is so much to admire in the English character, and in that of the French and others who facilitated that evacuation. Would that be a reminder of how modern life is deficient and that giving in to relativism is a fatal choice? In WWII, people were confronted daily with real and present dangers that were more recognizable. Modern England and Europe now face manipulated dangers and intangibles that make seemingly easy choices more problematic.

    Or will viewers, at least some of them, say that it is time to put up more defenses, to fall back to the island to avoid more of the mainland problems cropping up in Germany, Sweden and elsewhere? People may experience a movie based on what they bring to the theatre. What do modern audiences know of fairly recent history? Sometimes a film is entertainment and sometimes it is education, and sometimes both or perhaps neither. In the case of Dunkirk, it should be both.

  6. London forum guy
    Posted July 24, 2017 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    Great film. The phrase a review are use to review the film ‘Stalingrad’ a few years back springs to mind though: “nearly a masterpiece” It’s great, but somehow I feel he narrowly missed making this into one of the greatest films of our time. It’s very close though. Elgar was an inspired choice.
    The British comedian Spike Milligan was undergoing basic training in the army at the time in Britain and found out that he could get free drinks in pubs by pretending to have been there. One day he met a Dunkirk survivor in a pub and asked him what it was really like. “Like son? It was an almighty fuck up. That’s what it was like.”
    The British secret files on Dunkirk are sealed for another one or 200 years leading to the suspicion that our government was conducting negotiations with Hitler and he was led to believe that if he allowed our army to escape we would conclude peace. Who knows?

  7. Conrad Jaeger
    Posted July 25, 2017 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    I was surprised to put it mildly when I

    discovered that Christopher Nolan was making a movie about the Dunkirk
    Evacuation in 1940 because I wondered who would be interested, given that few
    people outside of Britain have ever heard of the event. The film is truly
    stunning, especially in IMAX, but if it has a flaw it is a lack of context. I
    wonder if there were other battles more pivotal to WWII? If Britain had lost,
    WWII in Europe would have been over there and then. America would never have
    joined the war in Europe and the world would be a very difference place today –
    perhaps more resembling “The Man in the High Castle”. If you want to fill in
    the blanks on this one, I highly recommend an equally sensational novel
    (Dunkirk Spirit by Alan Pearce). It stayed with me for a long time after
    putting it down.

  8. Eric Mack
    Posted July 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Should win Best Picture Oscar, though no Actor awards.
    I was stunned, overwhelmed and loved it. My wife and daughter did not feel any of that.
    Saw it in IMAX and want to experience it again, an emotional amusement park ride that exhausted me.

  9. Carpenter
    Posted July 26, 2017 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    “Leftists fear Dunkirk because it gives white men a glimpse of a nice white country we could someday restore, and the virtues we must find again if we are to defeat the real enemy this time.”

    The scenes toward the beginning of the sailors (?) and boat captains loading up life jackets and the two young Englishmen helping the older boat captain made me feel very nostalgic for something I’ve never known. Something about the uniforms, the sea, the docks, the little seaside town…

  10. Kubizek
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I watched Dunkirk in an IMAX theatre last night and while kind of flawed and cliched in parts it certainly is visually impressive. It is particularly interesting for me as my grandfather was part of the BEF at Dunkirk and was evacuated at the height of the battle. I think we need to view it through the eyes of normies to appreciate it’s true power. I was disappointed that the Germans were depicted in such a distant fashion but I am not a normie and I realize now that this was quite a brilliant move on the part of the makers. Doing it this way meant there was no demonization of the Germans, it was almost as if they were a force of nature and thus there was none of the usual Hollywood moralizing.

    I was genuinely surprised by my daughter’s reaction to this movie. This movie shows hardly any real suffering. The mortally wounded fall instantly asleep which is rather strange. Death is sort of beautifully depicted. This made my daughters wish to be part of this war because their current life in the modern world is, as they put it, “kind of meh”. They were very impressed by how handsome everyone was and how brave and how exciting and epic it all was. Actually being there didn’t seem to be bad at all. A nice beach, a nice seaside town, beautiful planes battling in the sky above. Life doesn’t get better than this. We will never see such grandeur in the sky again.

    Actually the depiction of the beach in the movie Atonement is almost certainly more accurate but I think this movie works better for our cause. It is a rare war movie that appeals to all people and genders. This a great movie to take the kids to see. See it on IMAX certainly.

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