Monday, July 17, 2017

Dunkirk - WWII Drama - 1958

Dunkirk WWII Drama 1958

Before you head out to the theaters this weekend, and see the 2017 Dunkirk English War thriller written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan, that features Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, and Harry Styles, treat yourself to a real-deal, made the way they're supposed to be classic, Dunkirk from 1958.

This film's story is meshed together from two novels. This Dunkirk from 1958 is a British war film directed by Leslie Norman. It stars John Mills, Richard Attenborough, along with Bernard Lee.

This Classic WWII Drama tells us the story of Operation Dynamo, an operation that lasted nine days. From the beaches of Dunkirk, many British and French troops were successfully evacuated in May and June of 1940.

At Dunkirk the Allies are surrounded and they fear being totally annihilated from the Nazi's. This World War II story is told primarily from the two points of views from the novels, this script is based on, a newspaper reporter and a soldier.

After being surrounded and trapped Allies began ferrying soldiers off of the beaches to safety. Eventually, soldiers were being picked up by any and every type of boat or ship that could get there, including civilian vessels as well. This takes place all while soldiers on the beaches are subjected to regular aerial bombing and strafing.

On May 23rd - 24th the German advance had come to a surprising halt, it was to be only temporary and then resume again. It ended up taking longer than anticipated, somewhere around 48 hours had passed in fact. They had simply outrun their supply columns, and had orders to wait for reinforcement before resuming full attack. This led to the eventual success of Operation Dynamo and how the Allies survived what many thought would be a total defeat.

In the aftermath some 330,000 troops were saved. The Germans on the other hand had scored a major victory and recovered all of the abandoned Allied supplies, some of which were 880 field guns, 310 large caliber guns, about 500 anti-aircraft guns, along with 850 anti-tank guns, 11,000 machine guns, approximately 700 tanks, 20,000 motorcycles, and 45,000 motor cars and lorries.

The German Army had won an important battle in France, but the dysfunction at the heart of the German high command could be seen here, it would ultimately lead to their own defeat and downfall.

The story here begins with some disparaging of a perceived 'phony war' and a writer's amazement at his countryman's complacency, their unwillingness to acknowledge the imminent danger ahead.

The story's viewpoint is observed through the eyes of Charles Foreman and that of Cpl. 'Tubby' Binns. Tubby is our reluctant leader along with a small group who have been disconnected from their larger unit and left behind. It is for them now, to find their way forward. Their trek eventually leads them to the beaches of Dunkirk, where Tubby eventually meets up with Foreman. These character's only briefly connect, as Foreman laments the why of what's going on. Finally, one of the reluctant participants, Holden, eventually gets to be of help, after civilian watercraft was conscripted. This led to civilian volunteers to aid in the evacuation. It's a very British film in language and dialect that is interesting to observe.

The shortcomings of the film would be that the film poorly illustrates the 48 hour period of the German halt. In the film, we have it's barely noticeable, and after being noticed, air bombings ensued. The film also didn't do as well as they could have in illustrating visually the civilian effort. All of the boats that were in use made up an impressive impromptu armada that we never fully see. The sense of timing is lost here, you're just left to wonder about them instead.

Nevertheless, this period piece is well worth seeing. In the darkest of hours there will always be some optimists among pessimism. The contrasts of the two main characters are what make the blending of the two stories told here so interesting. In what became known as The Miracle of Dunkirk, the film shows us how everyone pulled together in the effort to save their boys.

The film from 1958 is as Director Leslie Norman states: “I was the council school boy who became a major in the war, and that had a lot to do with the way I felt about Dunkirk. I didn't think that Dunkirk was a defeat; I always thought it was a very gallant effort but not a victory.”

Stream the film at this link

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