32 4 mins 5 yrs

There have been as many opinions as grains of sand as to the likelihood of a successful retreat, by a battered, disorganised British Army, from the beaches, piers and waves of Dunkirk. No one really understood why an Army of over 275,000 weary, demoralised British soldiers; along with approximately 140,000 French, Belgian and Polish soldiers of a similar demeanour; was allowed to escape the overwhelming menace of the German tank divisions and regiments.

The simple fact, borne out by research after the War was over, was that the evacuation was allowed to happen because the British and French armour regiments attacked an exposed Panzer Division at Arras, exposed because they had outrun their supply chains, artillery and infantry support; and were in serious danger of being outflanked and forced into retreat.

After the attack was beaten off, Von Runstedt, after urgent reviews with his subordinates, signalled Berlin and Hitler that he wanted a pause, to regroup and re-inforce, before pressing into Dunkirk. Hitler agreed, giving Von Runstedt to ability to decide when to advance, as he had been promised by Goering that the Luftwaffe would clear the air of the R.A.F, and the beaches of the British Army.

The Luftwaffe did their best, but lost 156 aircraft whilst bombing the ‘little ships’ whilst the R.A.F. lost 145 aircraft, and, more importantly, precious pilots. The Germans regrouped, reinforced and commenced moving after three days, there was an organized and extremely competent defence; but ‘Operation Dynamo’ was in full swing, and only the dead were left on the Dunkirk beaches. The surviving soldiers formed the nucleus of a resurgent British Army, which eventually, together with America, Canada, and Free French; as part of the Allied Cause, returned on 6th June 1944, and on towards victory.

The film ‘Dunkirk’ is now on general release, but USA Today reviewed ‘Disaster turned Survival’ movie named ‘Dunkirk’ with the following words:-

Dunkirk is also one of the best-scored films in recent memory, and Hans Zimmer’s music plays as important a role as any character. With shades of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the melodies are glorious, yet Zimmer also creates an instrumental ticking-clock soundtrack that’s a propulsive force in the action scenes.

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. Still, Nolan’s feat is undeniable: He’s made an immersive war movie that celebrates the good of mankind while also making it clear that no victory is without sacrifice.

Yes, I can just imagine David Oyelowo calling up the casting director and stating that a 17.8% of the Army roles on the Dunkirk beach scenes should be reserved for B.A.M.E. (work it out yourselves) actors!

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32 thoughts on “Review:- Nice movie: cannot understand why ‘Diversity’ does not play larger part!

  1. Interesting post, Mike.

    One unfortunate thing about these famous incidents is that they draw attention too much away from other, perhaps less dramatic, events that are just as interesting.

    For example, most people would be surprised to hear that most of the over 100,000 French evacuated at Dunkirk were back in France fighting the Germans again within one week.

    Dunkirk was, you see, at least as far as the French were concerned, only a tactical measure to get the army out of the encircled pocket. The French were annoyed when they later realised the British were abandoning the fight altogether and would not return with them to France.

    About 60,000 British soldiers were captured at Dunkirk, they also lost enough equipment to supply up to 10 divisions – by far the larger part of British army assets at the time. By comparision, back in Britain they had only enough equipment to fit out 2 divisions to counter any German invasion.

    There was also a second large evacuation that people never talk about. This was about a month later, from the Atlantic ports. This time there was a much higher number of British deaths. The ships were packed with retreating troops so hastily that the numbers were not counted and when several liners were sunk nobody knew how many men were on board. Up to 4000 troops drowned when one liner went down, the largest loss of life on a British ship ever. On that one ship alone, more British soldiers lost their lives than in the entire Dunkirk battle and evacuation.

    Yep, war sure is hell.

  2. Churchill correctly warned not to confuse deliverance with victory. But is was and remains an amazing story.

  3. Noel – The French in WW2 are a Neverending source of WTF. When the US first invaded North Africa during the war they had to fight French forces.

  4. I do agree that the movie reviewer’s unnecessary line about the lack of diversity was ridiculous.

  5. Mike,
    Not a great hit, as you’re talking about a movie to do with a Historical Battle,no sensible person is going to argue you fill the movie with black actors .
    One gets the impression you tried but failed to connect the fine actor David Oyelowo with the story . Better luck next time .
    just remember mick when you’re having a go at diversity the tragic story of a polish girl who took her life at 16 because of bullying and being told she didn’t belong.
    Harri here has daughters from a European County, it’s a fact that there’s is bullying at school with views not a million miles from yours
    Tragedy of schoolgirl dead at 16

  6. Jude – the reviewer seemed to find fault with the movie for not accommodating political correctness at the expense of history. Mike may not always be at the forefront of racial harmony, but his point is well taken in this instance.

  7. Its is Mahons, but connecting David Oyelowo to that was not accurate.
    I suppose in legal terms you could say Mr.Cunningham mischaracterized my clients (DO) views.
    Would that be fair?

  8. I think Mike correctly utilized a reviewer’s strange lament about the lack of diversity in the Dunkirk movie to take a not unfair shot at DO’s pity party claims. I’m just amazed that Mike missed the opportunity to quip about DO promoting a program called Spooks.

  9. Spooks was the last series I watched on BBC, riveting it was.
    A fine series which did have a diversity mix, which reflected reality not a bias.

  10. Actually, it wasn’t just the plucky English and French evacuating from Dunkirk. The British army contained many soldiers from the Empire – Pakistanis, Arabs, Africans, Indians; Christian alongside Muslim and Hindu, white alongside black, and Mike will no doubt want to salute all these men.

    The French army had even more Arabs and Africans. So a few black faces would not have been out of place in the film among all those stiff upper lips, even if it meant losing people like Mike at the Box Office.

    I’ll see if I can find some pictures of those great men who were prepared to die that Mike might live.

  11. //I’m just amazed that Mike missed the opportunity to quip about DO//

    Another missed opportunity was to draw parallels with the equally hasty British departure from the continent started last June.

  12. Never mind BAME what about the lack of trans gendered troops. Gender neutral troops and various inbetween cross dressing troops and so forth.

    Where’s the diversity?

  13. Want to watch a fine movie about Dunkirk. Try the one with John Mills in it 1958 and that’s when the best films were made. No teeny bopper actors in that one.

  14. Right now woman in the American Millitary are being educated that they have to accept that the person next to them in the shower may have a penis and they can not complain or need to worry about it.

  15. If we are rewriting history dont forget Wellington had a fine Regiment of Cavalry at Waterloo . The Royal Scots Gays….oops Grey’s. See very easy to slip up there.

  16. Whether the person mext to them has a penis or not shouldn’t worry them as much as the person next to them for whom one imagines it would be of great concern.

  17. //The French in WW2 are a Neverending source of WTF. When the US first invaded North Africa during the war they had to fight French forces.//

    It’s even more bizarre than that.

    The British continued diplomatic relations with the Vichy regime well into the war.

    The US of course recognised Vichy France too, and continued diplomatic relations even after the US had entered war against Nazi Germany. They even had allies among the Vichy generals, favouring them over DeGaulle in Britain, whom a lot of people seem to have disliked.
    The US ultimately ended relations with VF when Germany took over the whole country (I think), which means the VF forces naturally resisted when the Allies invaded VF territory.

    One reason for US – VF relations was to influence the situation in SE Asia, where most of the territories remained loyal to the Vichy govt, even after they’d been overrun by Japan.

    Vichy was simply the de-jure govt of all of France (not just the Vichy part in the south). It wasn’t so much a puppet of Germany as a willing accomplice, especially in sending its Jewish citizens to their deaths. It made laws for the entire country and was also generally popular among the French. If there had been a free election any time before 1944, Petain would almost certainly have won.

  18. Noel,

    Interesting.

    Also, I only found out recently that many legal scholars (reluctantly) consider VF to have been the lawful (if not legitimate) Govt of France during WWII. I had always assumed that was de Gaulle’s Govt-in-Exile. However, apparently, there was a vote by the elected French assembly prior to the German invasion which essentially gave Petain the power to do as he saw fit.

    As you say, this would move France from the “occupied/victim” column to the “collaborator” column…which wouldn’t go down well with the France of today.

  19. MR,

    Yes, Vichy France had almost universal diplomatic recognition, even well into the German occupation – From Canada, Australia to the Soviet Union. Even our own dear Ireland was very sympathetic and had its diplomatic staff move to Vichy from the start and remain there until as late as 1944.

    The GS of Dev’s Dept of Foreign affairs was jubilant: “The sympathy of the whole country was with PÉTAIN, as was the sympathy of the Vatican”, although that’s a bit of an exaggeration (he didn’t consider Brendan Behan).

    It’s difficult to appreciate today how strong Catholicism still was in Europe then and how strongly it favoured right-wing governments. French church attendance rocketed under Vichy and the whole decadent world France had known for generations, with alcoholism and drugs and strip clubs and art that nobody understood, and socialist upheaval and general unrest, all came to an end. The Spanish civil war polarised opinion and after Franco’s win, a strong conservative/right-wing/catholic alliance was rampant all over Europe.
    Only lefties and a few intellectuals (and of course the Jewish population) were uncomfortable with Vichy; although even the intellectuals were relatively free and seemed to enjoy the time.

  20. Hitler mistakenly believed that there was or would be a large political grouping favouring armistice with Germany if conditions were favourable, so the British Army, which had abandoned its defences in Belgium under Churchill’s orders, was allowed to escape certain defeat and captivity – one of Hitler’s most misguided decisions.

  21. Thankfully, the jumped-up Austrian corporal wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.

  22. Indeed – Hitler should have worked out yhat Churchill had been bought by jewish money. Then the British Army would not have been allowed to escape at Dunkirk, and then there would have been a negotiated peace.

  23. Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt

    Bought by (((money)))

    The Bohemian Corporal, Emperor Shōwa and Il Duce Italiano

    Not so much.

  24. the British Army, which had abandoned its defences in Belgium under Churchill’s orders, was allowed to escape certain defeat and captivity – one of Hitler’s most misguided decisions

    And obviously a decision that you regret Allan. Just think, if Hitler had successfully invaded Britain in 1940, the Nazis could have proceeded with the Final Solution unimpeded.

    Oh wait…

  25. there would have been a negotiated peace

    LOL. You mean a dictated peace. British Jews would have been “re-settled” in Poland etc just as French Jews were under Vichy.

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