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Critical Review of The Film Dunkirk

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The movie, Dunkirk, takes place during the 2nd year of World War 2 in an event called the Dunkirk evacuation. The Dunkirk evacuation occurred in 1940, when British and other allied troops evacuated from the French coastal city called Dunkirk. This evacuation took place because the German forces had captured the Low countries and France. This in turn left no choice for the Allied forces but to escape France through Dunkirk as German forces started closing in on them. This event is shown through the point of views of many characters in the film ranging from civilians, soldiers, and even pilots. While most of the featured protagonists were not real people during the Evacuation of Dunkirk, their stories and point of views are all inspired from the stories and point of views of individuals that were in the Evacuation of Dunkirk. Finally, through out the whole film, the theme of suspense is always lurking in every minute of the movie. You just never know when an enemy attack can happen at any moment of the movie, since the possibility for one is always extremely high.

In my opinion, based on my research of the Evacuation of Dunkirk, the film was very accurate when it comes to the portrayal of the real-life event that occurred in 1940. This opinion can be proven in many ways. One would be how visually accurate everything was. For example, when it comes to the outfits for the Allied forces’ soldiers, all were almost spot-on to the real-life uniforms of the soldiers back in 1940. Also, the naval ships and the civilian ships portrayed in the film looked basically identical to the real-life ships that operated in the evacuation. Not only can we prove the accuracy of the film visually, but we can also prove it based on specific events that took place in the film. For example, in the first few minutes of the film, we can see that German forces start dropping propaganda on top of the city of Dunkirk for all the Allied forces’ soldiers to see and be intimidated by. This event did happen in real life in the evacuation, and while the flyers did not look exactly like the ones in real life, they were still pretty similar to the ones in 1940. Furthermore, the film did get other aspects of the evacuation correct, like the aerial defense over Dunkirk and how the German forces attacked the city so much because the aerial defense for the Allied forces were outnumbered. They also were very accurate when it came to how the mole in Dunkirk looked and how crowded it was with all the soldiers. Finally, even though the film got mostly everything very accurate, based on images that I have seen of the real Dunkirk evacuation, I do believe that the beach in the film did seem much smaller than the real Dunkirk beach, and I also thought that photos of the real evacuation did depict a much more crowded setting compared to the film.

The film, Dunkirk, reflects the perspectives of the many people that were involved in the Evacuation of Dunkirk. The different perspectives shown in the film range from perspectives of soldiers on the beach to civilians voluntarily rescuing soldiers in the sea. Furthermore, in the film, we can clearly see that the British forces and other countries in the Allied Forces like France, were portrayed as the heroes of the story, while The German forces surrounding them were seen as villains. Also, when it comes to political views that the film treats, we can see one major political view that is revealed in the film through a conversation between two generals on the mole of the beach. Through the conversation, we learn that the British government will only be sent one more ship to Dunkirk for the evacuation and save others for the next battle. We can see that also both generals have quite different views to the situation. One believing everything shall be fine, and the other believing that the decision was idiotic of the government and that they should not have made such decision, making viewers like myself start thinking if the British government were making smart decisions throughout the evacuation. Also, a social value that we do see in the film would be the topic of everyone being involved in the war. What I mean by this is that the military aren’t the only people involved the battles and war, but civilians are too. Since the beginning of the film, it is revealed, through a main character embarking a civilian boat, that civilians personally drove boats to Dunkirk to save soldiers from their impending doom, showing us that everyone had a say in this war. 

Furthermore, the military values in this film are everywhere, but one that I thought was very important was the value that all men must stick together no matter what. This is initially shown when you see soldiers helping each other carry the dead bodies of their men, but it is especially shown in pivotal moments like when a few soldiers get stuck in a sinking ship and they must all work together to try their best to not alert the enemy. Finally, an economic view in this movie would include that in the film, viewers can infer that based on the huge amount of artillery and ships at Dunkirk, the British government has spent a huge amount of their budget on the war. This information was not revealed in the movie, but rather can be inferred based on visual evidence and context clues. This economic view can also be proven with the following website, which mentions that during World War 2, the UK did spend about 53% of its GDP on it’s military. 

When it comes to cinematic techniques used in the film, I can tell that the director used quite a few to establish a mood or tone through the movie. While he didn’t use black and whites to establish a somber mood, he did use other techniques, especially music, to establish a suspenseful feel throughout the film. For example, during the film, the director uses a soft ticking sound in the background of many shots. When danger approaches, we can hear the ticking sound increase in volume. This gives the audience the feel that something huge will occur on screen, since it resembles the ticking of a bomb. The director also used fast pace music in scenes when vicious fighting is occurring on screen to increase the feel of suspense in the moment. Furthermore, we do see quite a few close-up shots of the faces of the main characters. These close-up shots give us viewers a sense of individualism and tell us that the character will be of great importance during an event that will soon occur. In addition, us viewers also see various shots of the surrounding landscape in the film. When this is shown, we get a sense of how big the Dunkirk operation really was based on the vast number of soldiers lined up on the beach. Also, in times when an enemy attack has occurred and we get a landscape shot post-attack, us viewers start to get the sense of how devastating each attack was to the soldiers on the beach. Finally, in the film, no romance or humor is ever shown. This was done on purpose to create a much more serious atmosphere around the characters and to show us viewers how scary and serious this moment in history was.

In my opinion, the film, Dunkirk, was made to both entertain viewers, but to also inform viewers about an important event in history. The reason I think it was to entertain was because the movie wasn’t a documentary, which is only to inform, but instead was a cinematic masterpiece that incorporated elements of suspense and friendship to give the feeling of entertainment to the viewers. For example, during multiple shots of the film, we see a friendship emerge from two soldiers on the beach. These moments would not be included in a film to inform but instead to entertain. Two other examples of entertainment would be during cool sequences of aerial fighting, and during a suspenseful moment when a group of soldiers are in a sinking ship. These moments are to entertain because it was included to give a trill and excitement in the middle of the film. Furthermore, I do believe that the film was to partially inform us viewers about the Evacuation of Dunkirk. The reason for this is because of the amount of accuracy in the film relating to the real event. For example, almost every aspect of the movie was the same as the real-life event in 1940 ranging from the soldier’s uniforms to the civilian boats getting the soldiers. Also, another example for why the movie was partially to inform was for the director to share the story of how 300,000 men were able to escape from Dunkirk after being cornered by their enemy. A story that would surprise anyone who heard about it.

When pertaining to the movie, I believe that its focus was on the way impersonal forces like the military and war swept individuals along with them. This is true because the movie is centered around individuals in the middle of World War 2, who are trying to escape the city of Dunkirk. Throughout the film, we see how events influenced by the war have caused our main characters to get stuck in life or death situations. For example, various times in the film enemy planes start firing and bombing the beach resulting in hundreds dead, at one point in the film, one of our main protagonists get stuck in a sinking boat due to enemy fire outside of it.

In closing, the film, Dunkirk, takes place during an event in World War 2 called the Evacuation of Dunkirk in which Allied soldiers were trying to escape Dunkirk after being cornered by German forces. 

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Critical Review Of The Film Dunkirk. (2022, April 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from
“Critical Review Of The Film Dunkirk.” GradesFixer, 11 Apr. 2022,
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Critical Review Of The Film Dunkirk [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 11 [cited 2022 May 20]. Available from:
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