I had mentioned to my son some days ago that if he fancied going to see Dunkirk I would like to go with him. My brother was at Dunkirk and I remember it vividly. I was eight at the time and all I remember of it really is the state my mother was in on the actual day he returned. I am sure that they kept most of the worry and fear from me - or maybe at that age I was too young to understand. I also rarely remember him speaking of it, although I once caught the tail end of a conversation speaking of young men who couldn't take it any more and jumped overboard deliberately to drown.
It was on the Impact screen at our nearby cinema - it is so long since I went to the cinema that I have never experienced these multi screen places before. In spite of it being a large auditorium there were probably only around fifty or sixty folk there to see the film - but it was an atrocious night weather-wise. One thing is for sure - I was the only person in the audience who would have been old enough to remember the real thing.
What did I think to it? Our reactions were very different, but then we were coming at the film from different places. My son enjoyed it but felt that in places it was overtly sentimental and 'often too patriotic'. I was pleased to see that what they didn't do was take a particular family and trace the progress of one man through the ordeal - that would have been sentimental I think. As it was, as far as I was concerned, it was a fairly factual account of the occasion made just human enough to make it more interesting. It brought in the role of the small ships very well, their contribution was so important and by the end of the film you knew it.
As for the patriotic angle, I think he has no idea of just how patriotic everyone was during the war. Almost every household was involved in one way or another - either a son or daughter away fighting or nursing or some other war-related job, or taking in evacuees from the large cities, or in a large city experiencing the bombing. And certainly in villages there were always families who had lost a son or daughter and everyone knew about it in such a small community. There was a desperate need to be patriotic, to keep together, to experience a sort of comfort from patriotism.
I came out of the cinema with a feeling that we as a country had 'won' what could have been an unmitigated disaster which would have lost us the war and it was certainly the aim of politicians at the time to make us feel like that I am sure. It will be interesting to see if my son puts a comment on here - he does blog occasionally; I will send him an e mail asking him to do so. Then you can read both points of view.
Coming out of the cinema to pouring rain - and waking up to it this morning - does nothing to lift the spirits, especially as over on the Continent they have more heat than they can deal with. I wish they could send some over here.