A scene from Dunkirk. AP
A scene from Dunkirk. AP

Film review: Dunkirk catches the historical verity of the event



There is a large problem with making a film in which one of the principal virtues is that you become lost in a chaotic world.
After 100 minutes in which no rhyme nor reason applies, when the director cutely ties up all your loose ends in the final 10 minutes, the audience may walk away feeling shortchanged, as I did. 
From its opening scene that shadows an English squaddie scuttling through the streets of the town while an unseen enemy takes potshots at him, Dunkirk casts you into a world where all order has disappeared – for the Allied forces at least.
It is not long before the audience is introduced to the film's three key plot lines and locations: The Mole, The Sea and The Air. The Mole refers to the causeway used to evacuate British and French troops from the beaches.
What follows is a loosely structured narrative, during which terrifying dive bombers emerge from the fog and torpedoes strike escaping vessels full of men who think they have been saved – this serves as a useful device to understand the separate strands and how they come together.
The answer turns out to be at grunt level, the stars of this film – and the historical event itself – being the individuals who, often shorn of any official direction in the fog of war, take the initiative in thousands of small-scale confrontations and incidents.
There are precious few members of the military top brass floundering in the sea, grappling to climb onto overcrowded pleasure boats sent as part of a vast armada from England. Indeed, beyond Kenneth Branagh's naval commander (stiff and austere, like the heroes in old black and white war films) overseeing the evacuation, the most we are aware of the upper echelons is when they shoulder past NCOs queueing to evacuate saying "Officer coming through".
So many of the details in Dunkirk are brilliant and adequately reflect the time director Christopher Nolan spent ensuring his epic was historically accurate. Many of these are noticeable in scenes previous war films have left out of the narrative – soldiers and sailors diving into the seas from burning ships end up coated in thick black oil; warplanes that have no ejector seats to provide a deus ex machina escape for the pilots; the red-crossed casualty boats that are bombed regardless of the situation by the relentless Stuka dive bombers.
The spirit of this war blockbuster is a rebuke to the faceless decision-makers that cast everyday men and women into supranational conflicts that have little bearing on their everyday lives. Few women make an appearance in Dunkirk – most are nurses on the aforementioned hospital boats.
A shared humanity is what Nolan presents as a driving force for the heroism that rescues the army of 300,000-plus from drowning in the sea or being mown down by the German army.
And yet this tribute to the resolve of the people does have its share of sour notes: French hackles have risen over the near invisibility of their forces; the Germans are heard and felt through their actions, but never seen as human beings.
This is a very British triumph – appropriately, it's a defeat to most eyes.
Mark Rylance is suitably gruff as one of the owners of a little boat sent to rescue men; Cillian Murphy's cheekbones remain sharp as a blade; and Harry Styles proves he can act as well as he sings.
Tom Hardy spends another movie in a vehicle, but enjoys some of the finest action sequences in the film. And Branagh does appear to be phoning it in a little, bringing little to the role beyond leading from the front with a steely jaw.
It is when Dunkirk eschews the heroics, and shows the dismal remnants of the British Expeditionary Force grasping for the helpline that was the ¬relief ¬effort initially extended them, that the film soars.
The story of the destroyers and frigates that were picked off by the overwhelming force of the German Luftwaffe, the brave Spitfire pilots who took on an enemy that enjoyed massive superiority in the skies, the poor bloodied infantry waiting on the beaches not knowing whether they would face death from the sea, air or land.
When Nolan's film catches the historical verity of this event, it is in its element. But when it imposes a trite Hollywood ending that attempts to enforce closure on it, Dunkirk betrays all the hard work that went into it.

DIVINE INTERVENTOIN

Starring: Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, Amer Daher

Director: Elia Suleiman

Rating: 4.5/5

The Scale for Clinical Actionability of Molecular Targets
Company profile

Company: Zywa
Started: 2021
Founders: Nuha Hashem and Alok Kumar
Based: UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $3m
Company valuation: $30m

The specs: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk


Price, base: Dh399,999
Engine: Supercharged 6.2-litre V8
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 707hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 875Nm @ 4,800rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 16.8L / 100km (estimate)

Company Profile

Company name: Fine Diner

Started: March, 2020

Co-founders: Sami Elayan, Saed Elayan and Zaid Azzouka

Based: Dubai

Industry: Technology and food delivery

Initial investment: Dh75,000

Investor: Dtec Startupbootcamp

Future plan: Looking to raise $400,000

Total sales: Over 1,000 deliveries in three months

Mia Man’s tips for fermentation

- Start with a simple recipe such as yogurt or sauerkraut

- Keep your hands and kitchen tools clean. Sanitize knives, cutting boards, tongs and storage jars with boiling water before you start.

- Mold is bad: the colour pink is a sign of mold. If yogurt turns pink as it ferments, you need to discard it and start again. For kraut, if you remove the top leaves and see any sign of mold, you should discard the batch.

- Always use clean, closed, airtight lids and containers such as mason jars when fermenting yogurt and kraut. Keep the lid closed to prevent insects and contaminants from getting in.

 

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Colomba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Europe
Gordon Corera, Harper Collins

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5