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"Dunkirk, the film and the navy..." Topic

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1,932 hits since 6 Aug 2017
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Bozkashi Jones06 Aug 2017 2:20 a.m. PST

I'm starting a new thread because there's already a good and active thread about this film and I didn't want to sidetrack it.

I watched the film and enjoyed it; I liked the story, the tension in particular, and I loved the look and 'feel'.

Unfortunately one thing jarred and, I'm sorry to say it because I don't want to sound like a rivet-counter, but much as I tried it did rather spoil it.

And that was the ships.

I know Nolan is famously sparing on CGI, but using post war minesweepers and French destroyers just looked wrong. Everything else was pretty much perfect; the planes, the uniforms, etc, but the ships just looked wrong. British destroyers of the Admiralty V&Ws and A-I classes were really distinctive and every time I saw the ships it just, well, broke the spell.

The same was true of some of the civilian craft the 'little ships' were perfect (and, I suspect, actual veterans) but some of the trawlers, etc, again just looked too modern.

CGI could have solved this very easily, just using proxies for close ups; I remember watching Monuments Men and seeing Warspite in the background when Clooney was walking off the beach.

The interesting thing is that NO director would dream of painting a Harvard as an FW190, or painting a cross on the side of an M47 and calling it a Panther these days, so it's a pity that the assumption is that people won't notice if it's a ship.

Well, I did, and I'm afraid it broke that 4th wall and provided sufficient alienation to prevent me from allowing myself to be fully immersed in an incredible film.


MHoxie Inactive Member06 Aug 2017 2:46 a.m. PST

That was jarring for me too. It was a throwback to war movies from the late 60s and early 70s.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 4:23 a.m. PST

Thank you for sharing the information. I know little of naval information but I thought the navy ships were not historically accurate. I did enjoy the movie, also, and have recommended it to friends. Perfection is expensive and maybe that is the reason.

Major Mike06 Aug 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Didn't mind the ships, it was the obvious anchor lines on ships that were suppose to be "underway" that surprised me.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

I suggest you stay away from Pearl Harbor movie.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 7:34 a.m. PST

I confess I did not notice the ships at all. For me what broke the spell was all the empty beaches. All the pictures of the event I've seen showjam packed beaches littered with kit. This beach was largely devoid of kit or troops.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 9:57 a.m. PST

There's only one thing to do. Never go the movies again.

Bozkashi Jones06 Aug 2017 11:23 a.m. PST

Well, I enjoyed the film and thought it excellent, it's just that every now and then I was jolted out of the immersion by something obviously incongruous and anachronistic.

I imagine air enthusiasts would have felt the same if de Havilland chipmunks had been used instead of J87s or land gamers if the British squaddies had been carrying FN SLRs.

As it was the air sequences were beautifully done and the men on the ground looked spot on.

Well worth seeing and not as bad as USS Salem masquerading as the Graf Spee, much as I also love that film too!


Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 11:57 a.m. PST

How many times do the OFM and I have to say it.
Movies are not made for wargamers.

14Bore06 Aug 2017 12:09 p.m. PST

Figure everyone swimming for it so to speak dumped everything that wouldn't float. The beach should be littered with everything. Didn't get to see it yet but plan to.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

I sympathise completely. Given budgets and expertise that directors are able to call upon, it's heart-breaking that those of us who 'know too much' don't seem to be allowed the expectation of suspending our own disbelief. I'm also afraid that I think that these historical stories actually matter. Movie makers throw unspeakable sums to invent science fiction effects and total fantasy. C'mon buddy – spare us a few dimes.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

Not a fan of the new Dunkirk film. Sorry I just didn't find it that good and would not recommend it. The trailer for the new Churchill movie looked a lot more interesting.

Like the latest War of the Worlds and Time Machine movies it made me want to see the original.

Begin lighting the torches and sharing the pitchforks.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 3:11 p.m. PST

The budget is right up there. See the thousands of uniforms? Those cost money. Is the kit right?
How about the care and feeding and pay for those thousands of actors?
If Nolan went the cgi route, you would be damning him for using cgi. He can't win.
Contrary to popular opinion, the budget is not unlimited. "Here, let's throw wargamers a bone."

Even though I love discussing movies on TMP, I'm coming around to the belief that such discussions should be banned. grin

This is one of those "What about Issus in Alexander? They left it out!" Or "Forget George C Scott's acting! The tanks were wrong!"

Let me give you a freebie. Nolan ADMITTED that the yellow noses on the Me-109s were anachronistic, but he did it so the audience could follow the action better. HE ADMITS INACCURACIES! Hang him!

frostydog Inactive Member06 Aug 2017 4:05 p.m. PST

I understand that the Germans are not even shown or mentioned. May be wrong going off another review.

Bozkashi Jones06 Aug 2017 4:31 p.m. PST

Golly Winston, you really are quite grumpy!

All I'm saying is that Dunkirk was a wonderful immersive experience but the anachronisms kept jarring me out of it. And it's a pity, bearing in mind how directors strike for the right 'feel'.

It's a valid opinion, don't you think?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 5:37 p.m. PST

Grumpy is my middle name.

Ottoathome Inactive Member06 Aug 2017 6:57 p.m. PST


Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 10:20 p.m. PST

Frosty Dog: Lots the German aircraft. There were a few infantry at the end.

This movie is not the battle of France. I agree with all the points about the debris. I didn't notice many vehicles except on the wharf. There was an aspect of desolation to the place. Did they stand in line all day and night, no tents or fires for cooking? What happened to the casualties caused by the strafing attacks?

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 4:30 a.m. PST

A judicious use of CGI would have improved the film IMO. I agree with the comment about the ships, that was distracting. Also the German 'bombing raids' consisting of a single HE 111 escorted by two ME 109s were a bit pathetic. I have to assume the scenes with the Stukas WERE CGI, so it wasn't completely verboten.

Bozkashi Jones08 Aug 2017 4:37 a.m. PST

Fair point Winston, from one grump to another

4th Cuirassier08 Aug 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

I am not that bothered by slightly inaccurate kit. I see it as portraying the real stuff, like the actors are portraying real people, to whom they are also not identical.

There are limits. There was a terrible El Alamein movie made which used M113 APCs as German tanks. They don't even have turrets FGS!

Train nerds are as bad as us wargaming nerds about the wrong train. A train nerd once told me that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had been "ruined" for him because the early scenes are set in the 1940 or thereabouts, but the steam train used dates from the late 1940s. I asked why he didn't just stare at Susan, and he looked at me like I was the weird one. "It would still be the wrong train," he grated.

Westerns are terrible for wrong trains too, apparently.

I can no more tell the difference between any two trains than the average Billy Bunter can tell the difference between a Harvard and a Bf109.

wrgmr108 Aug 2017 5:32 p.m. PST

Well sometimes, I have to agree with Winston, Gumpy bump he is.
As gamers and amateur historians we tend to be picky bunch, especially if we have knowledge of the period. Movies are a portrayal of what happened with budgetary limitations.

We must forgive these limitations as much as we would on a gaming table.

That the Spitfire has 17 to 18 seconds worth of ammunition, and there is no way the flight commander could have shot down two HE111 and two or three ME109's, does it matter? It is a movie, trying to show what happened to those who have NO IDEA, what it was all about.

Charlie 12 Inactive Member08 Aug 2017 6:26 p.m. PST

I have to assume the scenes with the Stukas WERE CGI, so it wasn't completely verboten.

Nope. The Ju 87s and the one He 111 were large RC models (and well done and piloted). The only real aircraft were the "Bf 109" and 3 Spitfires. Nolan has a well known reluctance when it comes to CGI. It just doesn't work with his style of cinematography. And considering how beautifully Dunkirk was shot, I'll take his word over anyone else.

As it was the air sequences were beautifully done

Really? Well, as you're so OCD about the ships, you may want to add this:

1) The Bf 109 (NOT Me 109, look it up, people) is actually a HA 1112, a Spanish built copy of the Bf 109G. To be correct this bird should be a Bf 109E. And the nose? JG 26 didn't adopt the yellow cowling markings until July 1940, one month AFTER Dunkirk.

2) The Spitfires used were 2 Mk1as and 1 MkVa. Which is okay as the Mk1s are correct (and the MkV is visually a copy for the Mk1). HOWEVER…. The squadron codes and serial numbers are total fiction.

So…. Do these horrific anachronisms change your opinion of the air sequences? If you're going to be so OCD on the ship choice (Maille Breze as a stand-in for the long scrapped V/W class), then you should be the same with the aircraft (a Merlin engined Bf 109G copy as a Bf 109E).

My point?

ITS A MOVIE. WITH A DEFINED BUDGET. The WHOLE point is to tell a STORY. To suspend belief. Getting hung up on such nit wit details (details that only a certified nerd would know) at the expense of taking in the story is silly. And, if I dare say, immature.

Winston Smith (and the OFM) have it right. Movies are not made for wargamers. Thank God none of you were with the group I saw it with…

Bozkashi Jones09 Aug 2017 1:52 a.m. PST

Charlie, that's a little unnecessary; no I didn't notice and, as I have said a nauseum, I enjoyed the film.

And I especially liked a war film that concentrated on tension rather than action; I like action too, but I think Nolan took the right line on this one.

Ottoathome Inactive Member09 Aug 2017 2:04 p.m. PST

The Movie industry does not make movies for war gamers and could care less about our likes and sensibilities. Been sayin that for years.

Dunkirk is a masterpiece but I doubt it will be a box office success. The reason is simple. There is no sappy irrelevant romance like "Midway" and "Pearl Harbor" to draw in the women and provide a completely irrelevant romance which stops the action in its tracks for twenty minutes at a time.

Bill N09 Aug 2017 6:31 p.m. PST

On another thread someone said the Director gets to make the movie he wants to make. No argument from me on that. We get to choose not to see it. We also get to voice our opinion about the quality. That includes historical inaccuracies. I find it troubling that some here seem to think it is inappropriate for us to complain here, on a forum devoted to military history, about the historical inaccuracies of films.

I agree with you Otto that the movie industry isn't going to be a stickler for history despite what we say. In my younger life I used to deal with some of them. That isn't really the point though. This is a place we can come to tell our version of the story based on historical research.

I did not like the movie. That has little to do with the number of legitimate historical nits that have been pointed out on this forum. Rather I did not like the
different timelines.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 10:45 p.m. PST

The OP makes the very same point I made on the other thread. Where I am getting my brains bashed for it. Not here though. Must be the messenger. I agree with the OP. It hurt the believability quotient. CGI for the boats, troops and equipment on the beach would have gone a long way.

Would have been nice to have some scenes of the fighting around perimeter. But I guess that would have been as different film.

The air scenes were obviously not CGI. Those were actual Spitfires. I didn't think the 109s were not quite right. Now I know they weren't but for most movie goers they wouldn't notice. The air scenes were the best part of the movie. They must have used up the bulk of the budget.

In my opinion it was a good movie but not great. I seem to be in the minority as the movie is getting good press and academy award talk. I just don't put it in that category.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 10:51 p.m. PST

The budget is right up there. See the thousands of uniforms?

Actually no, I did not see thousands on the beach. I saw hundreds on the beach. I saw, and person with me saw maybe 600 uniforms on the beach. Another thing I didn't see were equipment on the beach. This was a major point not made.

While thousands of soldiers were evacuated, they left their equipment. All their vehicles, including armor and artillery. If the Germans could have planned ahead (which they probably couldn't) and immediately invaded Britain. The British would have had very little to defend with. But that didn't show in the movie. This movie seemed to me to be a low budget flick. But a good low budget flick.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 11:08 p.m. PST

I think that we so much want something other than superhero movies, that when something comes along that is dramatic and historical we over do the accolades.

"Dunkirk" was a refreshing change of pace but I wouldn't rate this movie in the top ten list of best historical or best war movies. Wargamers and Historians are allowed to have opinions too. Now watch it win best picture.

Mikasa Inactive Member10 Aug 2017 2:51 a.m. PST

A few inaccuracies, but nothing that detracted from the telling of a good story

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 7:09 a.m. PST

Dunkirk is a masterpiece but I doubt it will be a box office success.

It is already at $300 USD million worldwide and still going strong. With a production budget of around $100 USD million, even including all expenses like advertising, it is a BIG box office success

Flakbait22 Aug 2017 9:36 a.m. PST

A few things I enjoyed about the movie. Like some others though I was mostly disappointed. I found the comment on the Stukas and the HE-111 being RC aircraft interesting. I thought there was at least one operational 111 or a good replica flying today. It fought well being shot down numerous times.
The thing that drove me crazy the most was the music. That wore on me.

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