‘Commander Bolton: You can practically see it from here.
Captain Winnant: What?
Commander Bolton: Home’
This conversation from the movie Dunkirk pretty much sums up what motivates every soldier…..for those who fight the wars….they want to go back home- ‘alive’!
I personally have been a huge fan of the TV series Band of Brothers. It is based on World War II and beautifully captures the human emotions of a war. The enthusiasm, training, rivalry, brotherhood, chilling nights-both literally & metaphorically, injuries, mutilation, death and loss of hope. It shows the acts of bravery in small things that soldiers do. It does not make them super humans but humans who did super human things. Also, the show tells that a soldier is a soldier and they respect each other for that. While we civilians may decide to cheer them based on the uniforms they wear, soldiers know what the other is going through.
Christopher Nolan has crystallized all this in one movie-Dunkirk. The movie jumps from Land to Water to Air but it all gets streamlined in one coherent narrative. He has been able to show us in 106 minutes every minute detail of events which took place over a week. From the dynamics of the war to the politics of it- he has not missed anything. I read somewhere Christopher Nolan thought of making Dunkirk some twenty five years ago. No wonder he did not need too many dialogues in this movie. He let the idea mature with him, waited for the right time and delivered arguably one of the finest war movies.
One of the aspects that is seldom touched upon in war movies is ‘contribution of civilians’. When given a cry for help during Dunkirk Evacuation every British went sailing in the English Channel. More so when the defeated soldiers are brought back by these civilians, they cheered for them. Movie shows a father who has lost his son in the same war go along with another son to evacuate soldiers from Dunkirk. This is for sure an act of bravery. But it is also an act where a father who couldn’t bring back his own son, is trying to bring back others’. War is not all black and white.
Similarly in life, as in war, one will face defeat…lose those who are dear…come close to destination but that wouldn’t be close enough…but one must dust up and stand up. And like Churchill (the man who starved India-hate quoting him) says in his speech to the House of Commons, one must tell oneself- ‘We shall go on to the end….We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender’.
(One of the first thought that crossed my mind was when will Indian film-makers ever make such movies on the Indian struggle for Independence or other wars that India has fought…hope that day comes soon.)