Dunkirk–The Movie

We went to see the movie “Dunkirk.” We found it very enjoyable. In addition, it was a great example of the writing maxim “show, don’t tell” as well as the technique of starting “in medias res” or in the middle of things.

This movie was all “show.” I don’t believe the movie told anything. There was no backstory whatsoever. The characters were developed through what they did rather than what someone said about them. As any beginning writer will tell you, that sounds very easy to do. Trust me, it is not. Any writer looking for a great example of “show, don’t tell,” can find it in this well-done movie. This movie is nonstop action, and the characters emerge from their actions in difficult situations. The characters were not superheroes, but ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. My only criticism was that they may have tried too hard following the “show don’t tell” mantra. I did not really identify with any of the characters and became confused at times over which character was doing what. I felt this was only a small flaw, however.

The movie began with an unidentified British soldier foraging in an abandoned war-ravaged  French town. The soldier was chased by unseen but terrifying gunmen. This grabbed the audience right away. As the soldier ran and ducked the bullets, the magnitude of the situation became evident. It was a great example of the writing maxim that the story should start “in the middle of things.” Dunkirk was a textbook presentation of this technique, and in this case it worked like a charm.

The special effects were really well done and the numerous plane crashes, ship-sinking, dogfights, and strafing kept you on the edge of your seat, even though you knew what the outcome was going to be. The horror of war was very evident. There was no glorification of war only the quiet heroism of ordinary people caught in an episode of World War II that an American like myself had only very limited knowledge.


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