The Dumbing Down of ‘Dunkirk’ - WSJ:
"On May 28, 1940, Winston Churchill held a meeting of his government’s ministers.
“I described the course of events and showed them plainly where we were, and all that was in the balance,” Churchill later wrote.
“Then I said quite casually . . .: ‘Of course, whatever happens at Dunkirk, we shall fight on.’ . . . I was sure that every Minister was ready to be killed quite soon, and have all his family and possessions destroyed, rather than give in. . . . There was a white glow, overpowering, sublime, which ran through our island from end to end.”
“Dunkirk,” opening in theaters Friday, is noteworthy in many respects.
Not least for its creator’s decision—on the interesting ground that it would make things clearer for audiences—to avoid any appearance of Churchill.
...When an event in history has become, in the mind of a writer, “universal” it’s a tip-off—the warning bell that we’re about to lose most of the important facts of that history, and that the story-telling will be a special kind—a sort that obscures all specifics that run counter to the noble vision of the universalist.
...No wonder those German Stukas and Heinkels bombarding the British can barely be identified as such.
Then there is Mr. Nolan’s avoidance of Churchill lest audiences get bogged down in “politics”—a strange term for Churchill’s concerns during those dark days of May 1940.
...There was, for Churchill, no acceptable accommodation with Hitler.
He knew the disastrous impact on British morale of any word of talks or arrangements with the Nazis.
They would instead hear from their new prime minister only the iron determination to defeat the enemy, the confidence that it would be done—which had not a little to do with the strengthened spirit of the British public.
...Left out of this saga is any other sense of the importance of Operation Dynamo, the unexpectedly successful rescue of 338,000 soldiers who could, instead of being marched off to captivity by that barely visible enemy—call it Nation X—return to an England desperate for manpower.
...It’s possible of course that a director less apprehensive about appearing old-fashioned might have risked an actual clip of the prime minister without undue harm to the audience.
In the bleak days of 1940, Churchill told his cabinet: “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking on his own blood on the ground.”
If Batman ever said anything remotely as interesting, he’d have our devoted attention."