Dunkirk

Aug. 6th, 2017 05:47 pm
kindkit: 'A man in WWII-era military uniform drinks tea in front of a van painted with "The Soldiers' Drink: Tea" (Fandomless: Soldiers drink tea)
[personal profile] kindkit
I saw Dunkirk today. I really wanted to like it, but I'm afraid I didn't.

It was very much the wrong movie for me. I prefer character-driven stories; Dunkirk is more a sort of immersive you-are-there experience, without character development. I'm not good at facial recognition; there were a whole bunch of young brown-haired white guys in uniform, and I can only take it on faith that the two guys at the end of the movie were the same two guys we saw near the beginning. I have trouble deciphering speech if there's a lot of background noise; the dialogue was buried under a v.v. loud score and sound effects. I get motion sickness easily; there was a lot of shaky-cam and twisting tumbling aerial shots, and I still feel a bit woozy.

There were some omissions that bothered me, such as the men who stayed behind and defended the perimeter barely getting a mention, or the way the telescoping timelines made it seem like the evacuation was accomplished in one go. (Surely it's much more dramatic that, after the first harrowing trip, all those little boats had to go back and do it again?) And the movie didn't tell me anything about Dunkirk that I didn't already know. In that, it felt aimed at American audiences, to most of whom this story was probably new. It also felt Hollywood-y, with the massive budget and the big explosions and the way all the recognizable characters got away unharmed except for the one Tragically Doomed Innocent Boy. Yet for a Hollywood movie costing $100 million to make, it was oddly skimping in some ways. "There are 400,000 men on this beach," proclaimed Kenneth Branagh, and yet when we saw the beach it was mostly empty. There can't have been more than a couple of hundred extras there. Admittedly it would be difficult and expensive to fill the beach with 400,000 men, but they could've tried, or alternatively skipped all those wide shots and stayed in close to make things look crowded.

That's a nitpick, I guess. More importantly, the result of all the things I've mentioned was that I felt detached, never really emotionally engaged, and I was actually bored a considerable part of the time. It probably didn't help that I started off in a bad mood due to Fandango telling me the wrong showtime and my having to wait ages, or that the loudness--I could literally feel the vibration in my chest bones in some scenes--and the visual complexity and intensity overwhelmed me and made me shut down quite a bit. If you're not me, your experience of the movie may be very different.

on 2017-08-07 03:30 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
Posted by [personal profile] lilacsigil
I couldn't even watch the trailer because it made me ill, so I guess it's good to hear I'm not really missing out! Hope you feel better soon.

on 2017-08-07 05:26 am (UTC)
vilakins: (hurley)
Posted by [personal profile] vilakins
I hate shaky camera work and loud music over dialogue. I'll certainly give this one a miss.

on 2017-08-07 09:24 pm (UTC)
lilliburlero: still of peter o'toole in "lord jim", quotation from The Charioteer "in the meantime I've been around" (around)
Posted by [personal profile] lilliburlero
I'm glad it wasn't just me who had problems with the soundtrack: I thought the sound quality was actually quite bad in places. And yes -- I think even for what it was, it really missed a trick in not emphasising that some of the small craft made the crossing twice and three times, and what astonishing courage it took to just turn around and face those odds afresh, but this time knowing how bad it was. I guess there was a sort of gesture at it with the Cillian Murphy character, but not really.

The more I reflect on it, the more it irritates me, because I think it was actually a highly sentimentalised production, but it was exactly the sort of costive sentimentality that doesn't conflict with completely conventional ideas of masculinity.

on 2017-08-18 02:26 pm (UTC)
halotolerant: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] halotolerant
It's interesting - I think I liked it for a lot of the reasons you didn't. For example, I enjoyed the narrow focus (only one bit of beach, only a few days, only one crossing) because to me that gave it a more timeless, unearthly feel. I was very concerned about it being very jingoistic, which in retrospect as an American film perhaps it was never going to be, but the Brexit-LIttle-Britain narrative can get very 'we shall proudly stand alone' and I was just so glad that this was more balanced (bleak but not totally despairing). I also enjoyed the minimal character because I felt free to project my own ideas - I was glad about the token females love interests that weren't there etc. So I guess I liked things that were more negatives/absences than actual characteristics of the film, but there we go. Also I love watching spitfires in flight - they just are gorgeous. Totally agreed on the sound levels though - I also found parts of it physically uncomfortable in terms of volume.

Anyway I need to re-read the Charioteer now *g*

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kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
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