Dunkirk

Dunkirk ★★★★

Relentless experience.
Just trying to survive in the face of impending death.

The Good:
Kenneth Branagh tearing up. (I heart him)
Tom Hardy gliding.
For as much (as little) as I know about directing, this is an impressive feat. Really a part of the action and horror of war. And as intense as it was it gave a real sense of waiting and of how little things make a difference: running across a plank is reason for celebration, toast is delicious, falling down steps can kill you.

The Bad:
It's a very good movie, but see below.

The Contextual:
How long will we continue to mine stories from WWII in order to lionize soldiers (and vicariously military forces and military policy) who have been sacrificed in a war against pure evil? I don't think it's a stretch to say that Hitler is now shorthand for the Devil and Nazism is synonymous with evil. This background makes it that much more emotional when we cheer on the soldiers coming home, and praise the sacrifice of 17 and 18-year-olds. There is appropriate praise to be given to those who were conscripted into WWII. My struggle is that that praise is transferred onto the soldiers currently in the military, and then onto the military itself, and then onto imperial powers (US and UK) with a less clear demonic evil to fight today. ISIS and al Qaida are evil, but war has changed and at what point do we begin to question our (the US) role in the world as a weapon of control and destruction? Should we praise the soldiers who are sitting in a building in the US and dropping bombs on civilians (even if accidentally) via drone?

I'm likely out of my depth, but I see that our continued fixation on the heroism of WWII contributes to an unquestioning loyalty to our military power today which tempers my admiration for this film.

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