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Dunkirk: A Private Ryan For A New Age

Ethan Ingram, Editor

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When “Saving Private Ryan” hit theaters in 1998, viewers were shocked at its brutal depiction of armed conflict, with the Omaha Beach landings being one of the most infamous and realistic scenes in all movie history. However, in July of 2017, World War Two movies received an interesting addition with Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” which depicts a pretty accurate dramatization of the mass evacuation of British soldiers from Northern France as they fled the German Army. The film opens straight away to impending doom with “main character,” Tommy losing his squad to a hail of machine gun fire before running to a barricade in the street erected by Britain’s French Allies. As he heads to the back of the frontline, the audience witnesses the lonely beach where approximately 40,000 British troops wait for evacuation. All of a sudden, the scene shifted and we are thrusted into the air as Supermarine Spitfires head across the English Channel to engage the enemy harassing the men below. Finally, the scene shifted again and we see a fisherman, his son, and his son’s friend preparing to embark on the same journey to assist in the evacuation.

It is this way that Nolan established the battle’s scale, for as the scene switched through the different players, we realize how massive this evacuation effort was, and how much gumption the British required to rescue their men from capture or worse. These shifts in scenery affect the audience’s mood as well, for while on the ground with Tommy, a feeling of dread is present as Stuka dive bombers strafe men and destroy ships that have no way of retaliating. Meanwhile, the scenes in the air and on the sea have great tension in them, for there’s no way of knowing whether these individuals will survive or not.

However, with all of its great attributes, the film still has its critics. According to critics, “characters within the movie lacked depth, and Nolan shouldn’t have used such an extremely talented cast.” However, there is reason for Nolan’s lack of a true main character and this is because he is trying to make us feel for every soldier on the beach. Even Tommy may not be the “main character’s” name because it was a moniker for British soldiers at that time. It is with this lack of a main characters that has made this movie receive such positive reviews from people because “he wants a viewer to turn off their brains and submit to the chaos.”

Overall, although “Dunkirk” possesses minor historical inaccuracies implemented for the movie to be successfully filmed, the movie is still exceptional as it is more about hopeless and brutal conditions these men found themselves in as the situation escalated. Therefore, Dunkirk is a must see movie, for in the words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”, and Dunkirk relives a failure that ended in one of the greatest victories in human history.

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The news site of Pope John Paul II High School.
Dunkirk: A Private Ryan For A New Age