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8/03/2017 9:46 pm  #1

This movie has my favorite air combat scenes

Military aviation history and aviation generally are kind of a passion for me, and I am not easily pleased by movies that have aviation-related themes.  Dunkirk is about the best I have seen for putting the viewer in the cockpit and giving some sort of real feel to the dogfight action scenes, certainly in the modern era.  If you want to watch craptastic super-busy action sequences with dozens of CGI planes and superhero pilots who have an omniscient grasp of the battle, you should probably watch the dreadful Michael Bay Pearl Harbor or the execrable Red Tails by George Lucas.  The battle in the skies in Dunkirk is almost intimate, at times breathtakingly beautiful, and the heroes don't always know what's going on around them until bullets start hitting their plane or they can't make contact with their downed flight leader.  The limiting factor of fuel gives an ever-present tension (with no land in sight) that makes the pilots seem more heroic than any amount of blasting and "YAHOO"ing ever could.

The shots of pilots in the cockpit are utterly convincing, and convey the cramp environment and the physical stresses of maneuver quite impressively.  The sound effects/sound design blew me away with the detail and nuance.  (Tom Hardy/Farrier's plane seems to have a persistent flutter that makes it rattle and puts a small vibration in his voice; the Jack Lowden/Collin's plane doesn't have the same vibration, and they're both consistent throughout.)  Also, blessedly, belovedly, there is no yelling and "Yahoo"ing and trash talking; they behave like pilots, and RAF pilots, to be precise.  Hardy in particular seems to have put in the effort to understand the tenor and cadence, the low-key restraint that pilots use on the radio - it all just sounds right.

To be sure, there are a good many bits of technical license taken.  I wouldn't put too much stock in the stated idea that the best way to conserve fuel for the coming battle is to fly across the Channel at 500 feet.  Without giving anything away, the final act takes some liberties with the flight characteristics of a Spitfire or comparable plane.  Ironically, even though some of the promotional materials for the film point out that a period Spitfire had only enough ammo for eighteen seconds of shooting, Farrier seems to fire about twice that amount of time.  However, none of these things are egregious enough to bother me, in part because there are good cinematic reasons for all of them and the payoff is oh-so-worth it.

WWII aviation buffs, the aerial action alone is worth the price of admission, probably to an IMAX.  Go see it.

Last edited by Harold_of_Whoa (8/03/2017 9:47 pm)

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