Last night, I rented (from Amazon) “Dunkirk” and we watched in the comfort of our living room. I must say, it was a far better experience (and a lot less money!) than going to the movies, finding a parking space and dashing through the icy cold to finally warm up in the theater.

And at home, when someone needed the bathroom … there was a “pause” on the television. Ah the joy of the “pause” feature.

Sometimes, when we are watching something serious, it is hard to call it entertainment, yet surely it was. This movie took a rather different approach to Dunkirk, looking at the event from the aspect of the soldiers stuck on that beach. It was a movie of few words. Extremely visual.

So close to home they could just about smell Dover in the wind, yet with their back to the sea and every expectation of being destroyed to the last soldier.

When all those little ships from England appeared on the horizon, my eyes welled up. What more amazing sight than all of a nations boats crossing over to bring home a stranded army?

If it wasn’t entertainment, then what was it? Well, it was educational. Not that we didn’t know about Dunkirk, of course. If you know anything about World War II and Great Britain’s role in if, you have to know about Dunkirk. In many ways, this giant defeat-turned-miracle was the turnaround for England’s war. This was when — for the first time — the entire country said “We will never surrender” and they meant it.

They never surrendered and eventually, we New Worlders came and saved the Old World from destruction. Would we do it again?

I would hope so. Great deeds by millions of small and regular people give me hope.

Categories: Cinematography, History, Movies, War and battles

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32 replies

  1. “They never surrendered and eventually, we New Worlders came and saved the Old World from destruction.”
    I realise this is Americans’ view of WWll – that the Brits and a few odd-bods from other allied countries bumbled around doing their best until the US took it all in hand and sorted it out. It’s what you’ve been taught.
    But I cannot explain to you – because how could you possibly understand in the circumstances – just how much this upsets me, and not only because a country that should know better is propagating a wholly unbalanced view.
    It is also, to me, deeply insulting to the British people who faced war right on their doorstep with the sort of courage, resourcefulness and endurance that Americans have never had to find. And to the (literally) millions of non-American Allied troops who gave their all for three years before America agreed to help and continued to give their all afterwards. (Despite Omaha Beach, roughly 2/3 of those involved in the Normandy landings were not American).
    Have you seen ‘Foyle’s War’, a British TV series?


    • I was of the impression that Australia and New Zealand were also the New World. You sure aren’t the OLD world.

      As for the rescue of the old world by the new, THOSE are Churchill’s words, not mine. That is what HE said. It’s very much on record. Everywhere.

      I have seen ALL those shows and read ALL the books associated with that history. But what Churchill said was what he said. He said it for a reason. He wasn’t implying that America and other non-Europeans were inherently better fighters, stronger, more resourceful. What he WAS saying was that we could bring our raw power to the aid of Europe because with all of Europe’s great resources, it was sinking — LOSING THE WAR — and that was certainly not America’s fault.

      Have YOU watched “The Americanization of Emily?” The ugliness of European hatred from country to country was not an American invention. Those are hatreds Europe built up over thousands of years. The ugliness and violence was not an American or Australian or New Zealand invention. That was all Europe all the way.

      Yes, you NEEDED our help. Urgently.

      We came. We helped. You may not feel you owe us a thank you, but Hitler was winning and you guys were losing. We came and we helped. Sorry if you find this offensive, but that IS what happened. Why it happened is a long nasty story written by Europeans over long centuries.

      Now, everyone is busy cleaning up and rewriting the tale. It wasn’t so clean and tidy and you weren’t so guiltless and we didn’t barge into your lands bringing Hershey bars and bad manners. You desperately needed us and we came — and a lot of Americans in particular did NOT want to fight.

      It was YOUR war. Time to own it. You might also want to read Tony Judt’s “Postwar” for a cold, hard look at Europe and your post WW Two history. It’s pretty jarring.

      You seem to be of the opinion that none of us over here have read any history. I think I have read a huge amount of history, yours and ours and I have a very good idea of where Europe was at and how effectively and joyfully you slaughtered MY people. Don’t you DARE tell me what I “don’t understand because how could I?” I understand better than you think and that kind of European “sophistication” is exactly what got us INTO the war. You got everything perfect and you got us into yet one more world war and slaughtered more millions of people, fighters and civilians, Jews and Romanys and homosexuals and intellectuals while half of the politicians of Britain and France were ready to make a deal with Hitler.

      I am SO tired of European snobbery. You need to read a few MORE books, too. Not the ones that tell you what you want to hear.


      • I don’t actually disagree with anything you’ve said, except the implication that I;m part of ‘you’ – ie European. We may have been part of ‘the Empire’ at the time, but we were and are irrevocably us not them. It wasn’t my war anymore than it was yours.
        Yes, Europe needed America, and yes, it was Europe’s war not America’s, the direct result of WWl reparations. Furthermore it was stupid of me to vent my irritation at you, when you are one of the most intelligent and well-informed people here. I should never have said that ‘you don’t understand because how could you’, and for that I apologise.
        But I’m not going to retract the rest, because just as you are so tired of European snobbery, I am deeply tired of American tunnel vision. I have heard too often that America single-handedly won the war – that Americans are the bravest and the best – that America is the keeper of the flame of liberty – that America leads the way in all things – that, in the words of Senator McCain from the floor of the Senate last July, ‘We are a blessing to humanity’.
        NO country is that good.


        • I don’t have tunnel vision. And I never suggested we single-handedly won any war. However, I’m pretty sure our equipment, technology, raw power, and a huge chunk of money DID win the war. Personally, I think if we’d gotten into the war sooner, we might saved a lot of lives. But we too had our Hitler enthusiasts. ALL the nations of the world had them, from the Windsors to the Roosevelts. A lot of rich Americans thought Hitler was just “taking care of business” for them. Guess how I feel about THAT?

          European snobbery comes with an assumption that they are so sophisticated and smart that they can’t possibly be doing something incredibly stupid. Sadly, that was almost as stupid as our current president, though I think he may stand alone as THE stupidest human to ever run a major country. The stupidest, meanest, rottenest and most corrupt. But I digress.

          Europeans are REALLY good at hating each other and they have had a LOT of practice at it, so the snobbery is particularly annoying. A simple “Thanks for the help” would do nicely. We didn’t create the war and getting into it was hard since an awful lot of Americans wanted nothing to do with it.

          That book I mentioned — “Postwar” by Tony Judt — is an amazing book. A masterpiece. Dr. Judt died a couple of years ago, but this book — VERY long, so I don’t recommend it lightly (pun?) — is a masterpiece of … well … everything that created the war and everything that came from it. History and movies and art and philosophy and technology and culture and social changes. It’s an amazing book and it ties together modern history in ways I never understood. It changed my view of modern history. If you can stand the weight of it, it’s a great book. Available also as an audiobook — which is how I read it. It was too long otherwise. At least for me.


          • It’s now on my reading list, but might have to wait a few months. My son is adamant that I should have an iPad and embrace audiobooks and Amazon downloads, but much to his horror, I’m still happy being antediluvian in that respect.


            • I think you’ll like electronic reading. It’s the light, you know? Not having to find a light … and electronic readers are SO much lighter … AND you don’t need to find room in your overstuffed bookcase for yet another book. You can also make the font size bigger which for me REALLY matters. And audiobooks … especially for those really long ones. I have a LOT of books and I’ve given away as many as I could find homes for — or that aren’t someone’s personal favorites — and we STILL have a couple of thousand books. Which never get dusted. I am SO happy to NOT need to find room … though somehow or other, books still seem to show up. They magically appear, even though I don’t buy them anymore. Amazing. I win book contests. I now enter the contests with the stipulation that that they KEEP the books and give them to someone else 🙂


  2. The Churchill film: The Darkest Hour was also a valuable history lesson because it reminded me of how many in England at this point were willing to negotiate with and make peace with Hitler. The main culprits were of course were Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. But Churchill never wavered and relentlessly opted to pursue the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were a fair number of Americans who were willing to chat with Hitler, too … like Charles A. Lindbergh, to name one. And a fair number of people in our government. Now, we have all happily rewritten history, but it wasn’t quite so neat and tidy back then.


    • NY Techfan, we also saw “The Darkest Hour” and were impressed. We grew up history and, especially, WW2/Churchill buffs. In my younger years, I was aware of Chamberlain, Halifax, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, etc.

      I’m just old enough to remember the newspaper and broadcast coverage of the immediate post-war years, especially the pro and con commentaries. Ed Murrow’s nightly broadcast was a fixture in our house.


  3. I’ve been hearing good things about this film and will probably watch it eventually. I was always fascinated by the story of Dunkirk as a chld because it was largely about ordinary people. I remember asking my mother if people from Clacton, the seaside town we spent our holidays in, went to Dunkirk. Winston Churchill has his faults but I admire his tenacity and he knew how to make a speech.I think stubborness is part of the British character.


    • It’s a different view of it, in this case, from the fighting boys — and they really WERE boys — and everything going on around them. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was much better. You almost didn’t need to speak the language to follow it, it was so visual. And not special effects visual. Just good cinematography with careful special effects mixed in.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Dunkirk is an amazing movie. One of a sort and what better than watching it in the comfort of your own home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can you imagine all those young men barely out of their teens, in some cases, risking almost certain death?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t watched this one but I watched Hacksaw Ridge, the story about Desmond T. Doss. It was exceedingly moving, more because it was a real life story as well, and how he saved his buddies though they beat him up, badly because of his stance. Yet in the end, encouraged them onward even though he wouldn’t kill anyone. I won’t give it away lest you see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up with stories of Dunkirk, being a post war arrival, and there have been many films on the british TV. One of the reasons I was not really keen on seeing the film, athough I very rarely watch films today. However, in the explorations of my family tree, I stumbled on the Camroux family, one of which was a business man, something to do with coal transport. He had a barge and used it for the Dunkirk rescue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen — and read — a lot about Dunkirk. It wasn’t just a rescue. It was a turning point in the war, when England pulled together and said “We’re going to win this or die trying.” A few other of our friends have seen it and they all thought it was very good, so we gave in and rented it. I am learning to rent movies instead of buying them since we don’t watch most movies again. A few, but most just sit on the shelf getting dusty. This was a good one and when it shows up on your cable, you might want to watch it. It is very well done.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mr. Swiss does all the DVD stuff and we have a couple of good links for the new stuff (not saying more) so we will probably have it eventually.


      • This was a “big” film that delivered as promised with minimal Hollywood (British) phony theatrics.
        The minimist dialougue technique from director Christopher (“Batman”) Nolan really involved you first person in the movie. Nolan also avoided filling his film with stars to attract attention but take away from the subject matter. Kenneth Branaugh was the nominal lead and underplayed with skill.

        Should be used in schools where “Dunkirk” may be a mystery for myriad young people.

        I really liked the way they used Churchill’s memorable “We shall fight” speech — wrapped around a closing montage of scenes.

        An excellent movie.


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