Watching DUNKIRK

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linquist

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Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 4:28 am

My wife and I watched DUNKIRK last night. We were both mightily impressed. She had announced her impressions to me quite quickly but I had to think about it. Thinking it over, this intense, militarily violent movie has a truly dream like quality to me and it reminded me of three other films. Of course, two of them were other Christopher Nolan films, MEMENTO, a film whose backwards narrative also gives it a dream like quality, and INCEPTION, a movie about dreams. But his attempt to tell three stories of varying lengths of time. all at the same time, can't help but remind me of INTOLERANCE. Nolan even mimics the film by increasing the pace as he nears a climax for all there stories. It does help that the stories are interconnects by a singular event instead of just a theme. This indebtedness to Griffith seems so obvious that it feels great to realize the cinematic past still exists and something can be achieved by learning from him. I think that alone is worth the price of admission but there is a lot more than that to the film.
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wingate

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 6:44 am

It is being shown on 35mm here at a number of cinemas.What about other countries?
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 7:26 am

We have tickets to see it today in 70mm at the Music Box.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 8:00 am

Mike Gebert wrote:We have tickets to see it today in 70mm at the Music Box.


If it is possible, this should be seen in IMAX. He shot about 80% of the film in that format, and the difference really matters, especially in the aerial footage.

I interviewed him for Film Journal, one piece more general: http://www.filmjournal.com/features/cou ... wii-battle

And in this piece he goes into the decision to shoot on film and in IMAX: http://www.filmjournal.com/features/eye ... ma-dunkirk

He also cites Sunrise among other influences like Wings.

I don't always like his movies but I was very impressed with Dunkirk's focus and intensity. And I thought he was incredibly smart and articulate.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 8:10 am

The nearest Imax 70 showing is in Indianapolis, 3 hours away. (I saw Interstellar that way in Imax 70, at Navy Pier here, but alas, no such screening for this in Chicago.)

The Music Box showed the extended trailer in 70mm before 2001 a couple of weekends ago. The audience emitted a collective "Whoa..." when it was over. I don't feel deprived.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Daniel Eagan

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 8:22 am

I'm inept about embedding but here is a format comparison:

http://flic.kr/p/VEK9Ch

ImageDunkirk_comparison_large by Daniel Eagan, on Flickr
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wingate

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 9:06 am

Have booked to see this tomorrow night at the Odeon Leicester Square preceeded by a 20 minute interval on the Compton organ by Donald Mackenzie
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 9:13 am

I saw The Dark Knight in a version that went from standard 70 to Imax 70 occasionally. And honestly, after a certain point I didn't even notice that it got taller at some points. Our eyes focus on a rectangle across the screen and if you get more peripheral vision... well, your periphery is already basically filled up, unless you're sitting way back. In that sense the chart is sort of deceptive, in that no one will really "see" a lot of that extra image as shown.

For me the top virtues of 70mm film are 1) inkier blacks and other rich colors— this was especially pronounced in Interstellar, where space was truly dark, not charcoal gray; and 2) fine detail. I'm not saying don't see Imax 70 if you can, just that I don't feel a rectangular Dunkirk in 70mm is going to be a diminished experience. In any case, it's one I can walk to from my house, which I shall do for the 4:15 show today.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Daniel Eagan

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 9:32 am

Mike Gebert wrote:I saw The Dark Knight in a version that went from standard 70 to Imax 70 occasionally. And honestly, after a certain point I didn't even notice that it got taller at some points. Our eyes focus on a rectangle across the screen and if you get more peripheral vision... well, your periphery is already basically filled up, unless you're sitting way back. In that sense the chart is sort of deceptive, in that no one will really "see" a lot of that extra image as shown.

For me the top virtues of 70mm film are 1) inkier blacks and other rich colors— this was especially pronounced in Interstellar, where space was truly dark, not charcoal gray; and 2) fine detail. I'm not saying don't see Imax 70 if you can, just that I don't feel a rectangular Dunkirk in 70mm is going to be a diminished experience. In any case, it's one I can walk to from my house, which I shall do for the 4:15 show today.


Don't want to get into an extended debate, but when about 80% of the film is in IMAX, you definitely notice the shift to 70mm (which occurs mostly on boats). As he said in his interview, Nolan was very consciously composing for IMAX, not for 70mm, and realized that the eye needs more time to "drink in" the larger canvas. He also adjusted his normal editing pace for the larger format. IMAX is especially significant in the dogfight sequences, where the viewer has a much greater awareness of how difficult it was to track another plane. But on the beach scenes as well, the ability to see the horizon really affects the sense of isolation and fear the soldiers must have felt. In other words, it's not just a gimmick, but a integral part of the movie.

I wouldn't dissuade anyone from seeing Dunkirk in 70mm, especially when IMAX isn't readily available. But imagine watching Napoleon without that final triptych.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 11:18 am

I'm really surprised that I have not seen or heard of any other movies dealing with the Dunkirk evacuation except one. The only one that I can think of is Mrs. Miniver (1943) when Walter Pidgeon leaves in his boat and comes back a few days later with it all shot up.

Has anybody seen the 1958 Dunkirk with John Mills?
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 11:57 am

It's a very popular film here and has been shown many times on tv.Made by Michael Balcon at MGM Northwood studios
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 2:02 pm

Don't care for the film, or the novel, and James McAvoy looks like Frodo when you put him next to other soldiers, but Atonement's one-shot Dunkirk scene is pretty extraordinary:

“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 2:23 pm

I saw Dunkirk with Linquist's comments in mind, and I think he's hit the nail on the head: "dreamlike", It's not just that Dunkirk is central to the modern British national legend, and it's not the Brobdignagian images raised by the tag line: "When they couldn't get home, home came for them." There is a nightmarish quality to much of the movie, in no small part because it is the flip side of the Anabasis. There it is, the sea, Thalassa, Thalassa! (sorry, I can't do Greek alphabet), leading to home, and you still can't get there. It's just out of sight, like something in a dream.

The sense of dream logic is reinforced by the lack of dialogue to explain what is going on. Tom Hardy only has about ten lines, for which he must put on his breathing mask; Mark Rylance, for such an accomplished stage actor (I saw him when he showed up on Broadway doing Richard II and Twelfth Night) does very well with few words. The fact that Nolan understood that Dunkirk took a week if you were a soldier, a day if you were a member of the rescuing fleet, or an hour, if you were a RAF pilot (that's how long they could stay in the air with their fuel): that lends a sense of "dream time", in which things somehow take place simultaneously, and you accept it while it happens, but it really couldn't be that way. Could it?

Hans Zimmer's score supports this dreamlike quality. It's almost all this underlying drumbeat, with orchestral score limited to the appearance of the entire fleet at the beach. For the rest of the time, it's a muffled, monotonous background thing, always present, always clear, but overwhelming only in moments of crisis. The entire sound editing supports that concept, with everything clear, but monotonous and drreadful.

I'm sure the visuals support this theme throughout, but it would take some one far more versed in the nuances of how to saturate colors for emotional effect. However, one instance is clear: when the rescued soldiers collapse onto the train and finally awaken, the world through the window is overlit into unreality.... and for a moment, I was afflicted with the horrid thought: is this reality, or the last, fevered delirium of a wounded man drowning in a sinking ship.

Fortunately, there's nothing like good English beer -- even bottled -- to let you know what's real and good.

So, thanks, Linquist. Maybe when I see it again on TV in a few years, I'll have a different interpretation. For the moment, however, this is a good one.

Bob
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linquist

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 5:56 pm

You're welcome, Bob.
I agree with your more detailed observations about the dream like sense of the film. I also was aware of the influence of horror films in the lack of a visible enemy, the fateful sense of helplessness and the randomness of death. The film's first person viewpoints make it one of the best war movies I've seen.
My wife said that its already won her nod for Best Movie of the year. Case closed.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 6:40 am

The 1964 French movie "Weekend At Dunkirk" does a really fine job covering incidents during the Dunkirk evacuation. The problem for this movie was that it barely got released in the United States, the New York Times movie reviewer sneered at it and the only DVD version is in French with no English subtitles. However, I found English SRT subtitles for this movie on the Internet to go with my DVD bought at Amazon.fr. Henri Verneuil directed this movie on location at the Bray-Dunes and he had the budget to hire plenty of extras in uniform and also the props that show the military scale of the evacuation. The movie was a star vehicle for Jean Paul Belmondo, who part was that of Sergeant Maillat, a friendly but tough soldier. Too bad this movie on Dunkirk fell through the cracks. "Weekend At Dunkirk" shows the human scale to the Dunkirk evacuation.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 8:09 am

And a reviewer in USA Today shows what an idiot he is...

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.


I know what he means. I was mad because there were no action scenes in Little Women! But at least he gave it a good review.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 9:26 am

The recent release THEIR FINEST is about the making of a movie depicting the Dunkirk rescue. It is very entertaining, and a pretty accurate depiction of movie making in 1940. Definitely worth seeing.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 10:40 am

silentfilm wrote:And a reviewer in USA Today shows what an idiot he is...

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.


I know what he means. I was mad because there were no action scenes in Little Women! But at least he gave it a good review.


Oy.

Reminds me of an old roomate who hated MISSISSIPPI BURNING, because if it was about The Black Struggle why were those white FBI guys so big a part of it?
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 4:12 pm

Any old curmudgeon that says "They don't make movies like they used to" needs to be shoved off the couch and into an IMAX theater to see this stupendous production. I will stop short of calling this one of the best films in the history of filmmaking, but the subject, style, and execution are on par with titles that have long held such an accolade. Director Nolan reaches into a Felix the Cat bag of the most time-honored techniques from film pioneers to cutting-edge state-of-the-art devices to reveal the tender and terrible truth of a mammoth moment in history.

As a film fugue, the cross-cutting between several story lines are not initially blatant, but the realization soon arrives that you are seeing parallel depictions of events that took place in a week, in a day, and in an hour. Breathtaking visualizations, sweeping panoramas, and equally grand yet intimate moments, overfill the screen as it merges time and space in lightning bolts of imagery.

Some theaters are also showing the movie in IMAX with laser projection. This means a laser light force is used instead of a standard lamp, which broadens the color palette (blacks look darker, for instance), amplifies contrast for highlights and shadows, and brightens the image.

We may see no finer movie this decade.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 4:35 pm

Very much enjoyed the organ interval which proceeded the film.A member of staff came on stage to remind us that we were watching a 70mm presentation.Afterwards they gave us a strip of 70mm film.
3 words to describe the film,overblown,inaccurate,noisy.
I cheated,I watched the 1959 film again last night.Much better as it has got Flanagan and Allen
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Jul 22, 2017 6:27 pm

Thought it was brilliant in IMAX as well. Note, I am a huge Nolan fan but honestly the trailers scared me because it looked like it was going to stink. Boy was I wrong, absolutely virtuoso film making. In parts it was as harrowing as the Saving Private Ryan opening. Caught me completely off guard.

Needed more FBI agents of color though.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 4:27 pm

Thanks to the recommendations here my wife and I saw this in our local IMAX theater today. I was astounded and deeply moved. A brilliant piece of filmmaking.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 6:25 pm

I saw this film a few hours ago at the multiplex near my home. Not the greatest film ever produced, not impressive as many people are saying, not really memorable... it was just fine.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

My husband wanted to see this, so following your recommendations i sought out an IMAX theater. This is the first narrative film i've seen in IMAX, and fortunately i did think to bring earplugs. I have to admit to being a little confused by the timeline--and in rereading your messages and remembering the onscreen timeline the director provided, i'm thinking -- duh, where was my brain. Probably being pummeled by the horror and randomness of it all. It's pretty overwhelming, sickening really. And, yes, the crosscutting and quickening tempo did remind me of Intolerance.

We were really quiet and stunned the rest of the day.

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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 11:55 am

I have to say I enjoyed the Compton organ recital more than the film.Film was much too noisy.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 12:01 pm

wingate wrote:I have to say I enjoyed the Compton organ recital more than the film.Film was much too noisy.


The Germans are like that when they're having a good time.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 12:13 pm

My son and I saw this in IMAX on our recent holiday and were suitably impressed. The sounds were amazing and the visuals were striking.

I'd like to see the 1958 version now, for a different perspective.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Aug 11, 2017 2:42 pm

Not to be outdone by daveismyhero, my son and I saw it together this afternoon. It's showing in both Imax "2-D" (what the hell?) and 70mm. Having read all the comments here, I was adamant on seeing the Imax version, and I'm glad we did. I can readily understand what a visual difference it makes, even without seeing the 70mm version.

It's a relentless movie. No romantic interludes, no comic relief, no CGI superheroes pounding on each other: just constant movement and tension even when they have 400,000 men just standing around on the beach. And it works: you don't get distracted and your mind never wanders, you're watching the screen constantly and with complete focus.

I hate aerial dogfights because I can never tell which plane is ours: they all look alike to me, and have no distinguishing colours. I can't see Iron Crosses on the German planes and I can't see bulls-eyes on the English planes. This time it wasn't quite so bad: every so often they would show the yellow fuselage of the German plane, and they shot from the POV of the English pilots frequently enough that I was able to grasp the dynamics of the chase. So all in all, the air show was pretty well done.

The one problem I had with the sea show and the beach show was that they simply didn't have enough material/humans out there to convince me there were 400,000 humans and hundreds of vessels involved. This was one aspect where maybe CGI should have been used -- recall Troy, where they made it appear there were more humans and ships on the beach than existed in the entire world at that time in history.

Dunkirk is a powerful and intense movie, one of the best in recent years. I don't think I would compare it with other war movies such as Saving Private Ryan because it is almost entirely different in every respect -- i.e., by no means can it be classified as a traditional or standard war film. It's as if one filmmaker (Nolan) has finally succeeded in breaking the John Wayne mold of war movies.

Jim
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostFri Aug 11, 2017 5:36 pm

boblipton wrote:
wingate wrote:I have to say I enjoyed the Compton organ recital more than the film.Film was much too noisy.


The Germans are like that when they're having a good time.

Bob


I am more of a quiet sort myself.
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Re: Watching DUNKIRK

PostSat Aug 12, 2017 8:27 am

Jim,
I agree with you. While it is a powerful movie, and well acted and shot, there were several noticeable mistakes. We only see four planes total and about 7-8 boats, instead of the huge flotilla they would have seen come to rescue them. Is this because he shot on film and wanted to use virtually no digital effects, since there are few actual surviving planes and boats of the time? The credits thank the 7-8 boats listed. Also, Dunkirk is virtually spotless, and should have craters, demolished buildings, and damage all over the city from the German attack and bombardment. The train is wrong for the period, you can tell it has plastic seats and recent fabric, when there are steam engines that still survive (think Harry Potter). Also in some shots you can see cranes used for loading and unloading cargo or building ships, which are wrong for the period as well, they are from the last few decades.
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