See It at the Movies

DUNKIRK

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DUNKIRK

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(War on land, sea and air)

We've seen a lot of war movies over the years, but this one takes a different perspective on a historical day at Dunkirk.

We follow the battle in the air with World War II planes fighting it out, while on the beach men are lined up waiting for the arrival of war ships to evacuate them from a losing battle, to the conflict at sea, where eventually the fishing boats of the nearby villages arrive to assist in the evacuation. This unusual approach ties together the many aspects of military operations as seen through the eyes of the French and British soldiers. It is interesting that the eyes of the German enemies are never seen.

From the opening scene of hundreds of thousands of soldiers lined up on the beach awaiting rescue to the closing moments with a voiceover of Churchill's famous speech, "Dunkirk" will hold you spellbound.

Kenneth Branagh plays the British commander overseeing the operation. He has little to say, but his body language and expressive face is worth a thousand words.

The events do not always go in order. One scene happens in daylight and the next in darkness. Editing leads us from one group to another and back again. While it takes a moment to acclimate, the technique works.

At times, I felt a bit disengaged from the characters. There are no backstories. What you see is what you get. The pilot who turns out to be a major hero is seen only through his helmet visor.

Director Christopher Nolan does succeed in making you feel for the men, even if you know little about them, and cheer for the civilians who come to their rescue.

Rated PG-13 for violence and some profanity.

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