When I first heard about Dunkirk, I did some extensive research. I'd never heard about the Battle of Dunkirk so I was excited to learn some personal stories about the soldiers through the movie. I learned that the battle begun on May 26, 1940 and ended nine days later. The battle was fought in order to evacuate British and French soldiers from the Nazis. There was so much reading to be done that I decided it'd be best to just wait and watch the movie when it came out; but, boy was I disappointed.
The thing that makes a successful movie is the connection we as an audience make with the characters and their story. Hacksaw Ridge shows the incredible, true story of Desmond T. Doss, a soldier who refused to use a weapon due to his religious beliefs. Saving Private Ryan brought us "fubar," something we all muttered as we cried our way through the final battle scene. Lastly, Fury reminded us what it's like to be a scared teenager just trying to do the right thing. These World War II movies made you cheer for the heroes, cry for their loses, and reflect on the tragic events that took place – no matter if the movie was a true story or not.
They also provided insight on what was going on before and after the movie. It would show the location, year, and what was going on during that time in the war. At the end, pictures of the real soldiers would appear and some comments about their rest of their life would be beside the photo. Then some facts about the war would come next, describing what happened after said battle was finished. The audience gathered some information on the war and the characters (if they were real people).
Dunkirk didn't do any of that. The movie starts was a brief mention of where the soldiers are, who they are with and where they are headed. That's probably the only real information provided for the audience. I felt incredibly lost because I had no idea why the soldiers were there in the first place, how long they'd been there, what had happened to all their ships and no names were given. This only continues on and on throughout the film. I went to see it with my dad and the both of us would look over at one another to ask,"What's going on?" One of the big issues I had was the fact that only one name was mentioned which was the name of a young boy who was killed quite quickly in. It's a sad event, but I was hoping to learn more about the men fighting or trying to survive on Dunkirk.
The lack of names bothered me because that's the first step to making the connection to a character. Most of the movie follows Fionn Whitehead, but I had no clue what his name was, his role as a soldier, his role in the movie altogether or why he was just suddenly being followed by Harry Styles' character. There was nothing there to provide insight, and it was growing more and more frustrating. Tom Hardy's character was a bad ass pilot who sacrifices himself to save many but, again, no name. I would have loved to learn more about who Hardy was playing and what happened when he was captured in the end. Of course, I didn't. I never understood why anything happened to their characters, and felt like I was playing a permanent game of catch-up during the movie.
The film left me with more questions than it even bothered to answer. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to see Dunkirk – besides being a One Direction fan and wanting to show my support for Harry Styles – was to learn about the Battle of Dunkirk. Instead, I felt like I learned nothing and was better on reading about it on wikipedia. The scenery was breathtaking and it proved to be a grueling week for the soldiers, but I knew nothing about the brave men who were stuck on Dunkirk. Dunkirk did not raise to the expectations the movies mentioned earlier have provided, instead it seemed to be something pretty forgettable. I guess I'll have to find out about the Battle of Dunkirk somewhere else.