Food: When the Englishmen and some of their French Allies were brought safely to England, there was rejoicing. The final scene shows men running along with the train car offering bottles of beer and sandwiches though the open windows.
In the interest of keeping it simple – my quick Beer & Sandwich picks: Favorite beer is the Sierra Nevada Otra Vez. It is hard to find unfortunately, but for New Yorkers – they serve it at The Gray Mare. You can also buy it at an awesome hole in the wall beer shop on 9th St. called “Good Beer.” This shop has cans of every kind of craft beer & you can mix & match to create your own six-pack. An easy sandwich go-to for me is just a simple turkey and cheese. I recommend Hillshire Farm Mesquite Smoked turkey breast slices, Hill County Fare sliced Colby & Montery Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, & plenty of mayo. My preference is to toast your bread so that is warm & almost a little crispy, but then keep the other ingredients cold. Cheers!
Film: “Dunkirk” (2017) is breathtaking film that captures the pivotal moment of British history when a miracle occurred during World War II that allowed the rescue of roughly 300,000 men. It was a unique and miraculous event in the war, but also sparked a boost in morale for the British population at a time when it was needed most, and likely drove the courageous decision to resist the Nazi regimes attempt at negotiations.
Christopher Nolan’s film gathered loads of praise, and for good reason. It is thoughtfully written, presented with subtlety and refuses to spoon feed its audience about the intricacies of war. Further, he chooses to separate the story into three parts, and starts in the middle amidst the battle. A choice that was applauded by many, but frustrated myself. When the material is as dense as this (as war, basically) it requires a light brush of context to make an honest impact. In my first viewing of this, I felt like I was watching a long action sequence without plot. I did not understand who was who, which sides were doing what and why. Basically, this film requires more than at a glance knowledge of World War II, and more so, a thorough understanding of what exactly happened at Dunkirk before watching because this film will not tell you, it only shows you what you already know.
That being said, it is incredibly powerful within a contextual view. Beginning with Tommy (the young Fionn Whitehead) as he stands in a battleground as German leaflets begin to descend upon the terrain. They read: “We have you surrounded” and suddenly, all the soldiers run toward a sand-bagged barrier for cover. They are being hit with air strikes, and it is chaos. After Tommy manages to make it to the beach, he finds around 400,000 others waiting in organized lines for rescue.
This infamous move by the Germans became known as Luftwaffe, where, while surrounded, the air attacks pick the soldiers off “like fish in a barrel” as one British commander gripes. The reason why the British troops were not completely decimated is not (and has never been) fully clarified, but it is speculated that Hitler favored the Airforce Commander, and therefore wanted him to get the glory from the victory rather than the man leading the tanks. This is, of course, laughable, but so are many of Hitler’s ignorant, megalomaniac-driven decisions when it came to the war.
Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” tells the story from the land, the air, and the sea. In the air, we primarily follow Tom Hardy (who in a heroic moment manages to hold off German airstrikes even with an empty tank of gas). In the sea, we ride along a small fishing boat with a civilian man, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) who reluctantly brings along his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and their teenage hand, George (Barry Keoghan), last minute joins them. On the ground, we follow the aforementioned Tommy, and his fellow soldiers (cast including Aneurin Barnard, Bobbby Lockwood, and “One Direction” singer Harry Styles).
The cross through the English channel to get to Dunkirk is roughly 19 miles, often freezing, and apparently incredibly dangerous. This is the risk many civilians took in order to participate in the evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo. The most powerful interaction that exists in the movie is when Mr. Dawson’s boat comes upon a stranded solder (Cillian Murphy). He comes aboard, traumatized and shivering, and becomes frantic when he finds out that he is just mounted a ship that is headed directly back into the battle. Tensions rise on the boat as the passengers debate what to do. In the end, however, after Peter sees what this soldier has gone through, there is a moment of tenderness that occurs. Peter tries to avert this soldier from bearing any more pain than he already has by withholding information from him, as a way of protecting him. It is a small exchange, but profound.
Hans Zimmer provides an effective, magnanimous score that often incorporates the sound of a ticking clock. Cinematographer, Hoyte van Hoytema, gives viewers a visceral and immersive experience, while also managing to produce jaw-dropping long shots with the use of natural light (similar to the exceptional feats we saw in “1917” last year). It’s a fantastic film on a very specific event that had a lasting impact on British history and the history of the world.
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” Tommy reads the words of Winston Churchill from a newspaper as the boys are greeted by bystanders running along side their train home.