Dunkirk movie

Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Dunkirk movie - 07/24/17 07:01 AM

My wife and I went to see the movie "Dunkirk" yesterday. It was an epic story, told as poorly as possible. If you believe the movie, about 30 small ships made their way across the English Channel, watching as every Royal Navy ship was sunk. These 30 small ships pulled 340,000 troops off the beach in one trip. (The movie said 300,000 were evacuated - but that was just one minor inaccuracy in an otherwise inane plot.) Oh, yes, and 3 RAF pilots eliminated the German Air Force (all 5 of them.) All 3 were shot down; the third was able to glide for about an hour (or maybe it just seemed like it) after he ran out of fuel. On a side note, a dozen Brits, including the two fellows who've been on all the talk shows plugging the movie, spent half the movie hiding in an abandoned boat that had washed up on the beach and was being used by the Germans for target practice. I'm not quite sure why they did that, or what happened to them - or maybe I had just quit paying attention or caring by that point. All of this was told in an extremely disjointed manner, with little to no continuity from one scene to the next. There was never any explanation of how the English ended up at Dunkirk in the movie - two minutes of dialog, or a voice-over as arrows moved around on a map, would have helped put the whole thing in perspective.

In truth, this was a 10 day operation, with hundreds of small ships plus 40 destroyers and assorted other navy vessels making multiple crossings of the channel. It was a well-organized withdrawal to the beaches and well-organized evacuation effort pulled together on short notice. The 350,000 troops who were saved went on to battle in North Africa, Sicily, and would eventually return to France in June, 1944. Had they been lost, Britain would have been invaded, and the US would not have had a base from which to invade the continent. This story deserved to be told in the epic manner of "The Battle of Britain", "The Longest Day," or "A Bridge Too Far" (though I'm not sure we have enough talented actors any more to make an "all-star cast" large enough to pull it off.) There was so much to tell here, and the movie missed it all.

The movie sank to the level of "Pearl Harbor" (the one with Ben Affleck, not "Tora, Tora, Tora.") Don't waste your money or your time on it.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/27/17 08:59 AM

Saw the movie. I wasn't disappointed and didn't really expect it to portray the entire actual operation. The story was told in three different time lines which kinda worked. My brain looks for tech flaws and as a pilot, I enjoyed the flying scenes. However, that last Spitfire ran out of fuel, glided for half an hour, shot down a Messerschmitt Me109 on the way, then safely landed on the beach. The pilot set his plane on fire with a flare gun...and that's where I discovered his problem. That airplane had no engine! And burnt like it had full fuel! Oh well. grin
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/27/17 01:34 PM

Yeah, I forgot to mention the no-rule, gliding shoot-down.

I'm also not sure why he glided all the way past the Brit-held beach so he could be taken prisoner by the Germans. He appeared to have enough flight controls to circle and land behind friendly lines. (I'm assuming the targets - er, i mean, "trooops" - lined up on the beach would have broken ranks long enough to allow that.

I think my expectation threshold got me - same thing happened with Pearl Harbor. I was expecting a Longest Day-style movie, and had it turn out to be more of an individual memoir(s). So, the movie may have been OK, but appeared lousy because I was expecting something else. (Suffice to say, I won't be ordering it from Amazon.)

I did like the father who took his boat over - seemed to be the only character with a clear idea of what he was supposed to be doing.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/27/17 02:30 PM

Spitfires are known for a fairly flat glide...something like 15:1. Turning back in a glide is fatal...the turn burns up airspeed, so I can see why he landed straight ahead. He may have not known the beach was enemy held. But if you look at the nose while the airplane was burning on the beach, you can see the stage set structure...no engine behind that prop! And empty fuel doesn't burn much at all.

I too like the old guy and his son/friend and is why I saw the movie. I saw the digital version. I'll probably go see the 70mm film version just to see the difference.
Posted by: 4evrplan

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/27/17 03:30 PM

I don't know much about WWII warbirds, but 15/1 is higher than I would have guessed. I wonder what the start altitude would have to be for a 30 minute flight, assuming typical weather (lift/sink). The Spitfire Wikipedia page didn't have a minimum sink rate for it. At least with no fuel, it'd be at it's lightest.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/27/17 04:06 PM

Or maybe he just wanted out of the movie...

Yeah, funny how the missing engine didn't affect the flight. I like to spot detail issues, too. I remember thinking, in Walk in the Woods (which I did like, just because it was a good buddy movie that accidentally included backpacking), when Redford and Nolte fell into the creek, that they probably wouldn't have fallen if their hiking poles had been in their hands instead of lashed to their packs.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Dunkirk movie - 07/28/17 09:31 AM

Ha! I remember Walk in the Woods and all the trekking poles on the packs. Plus, they always looked way too fresh. I loved the book....the movie was a good try but way too short.

I just finished a book "Lost on the Appalachian Trail" by Kyle Rohrig....he and his little dog thru hiked the thing and is the best account I've read of how it really is. Ain't no Walk in the Woods. grin

Anyway, other than the Spitfire issues, all the flying scenes were pretty accurate. Big ships rolling over would be quite the special effects task. I'm with you on the Pearl Harbor movie....dumb...not epic.
Posted by: TravelGenesi

Re: Dunkirk movie - 08/30/17 12:21 AM

Originally Posted By Dryer
I'm with you on the Pearl Harbor movie....dumb...not epic.

Yup, that sums up the Pearl Harbor movie as a whole. grin