Feeling trapped by winter weather, snow added to the restrictions of the pandemic, looking for something to watch—oh yes, Dunkirk!
What was I thinking? Sure, I knew the story—but everyone in this movie is trapped, sooner or later: 400,000 men trapped on the beach, waiting for transports that can at best handle 30,000 of them. French troops who are not going to be taken aboard British Navy ships, because they are trapped in their own country. Trapped below decks on the ship you were lucky enough to get aboard— when the Stukas bomb it. Trapped in the water under a flaming pool of oil after the ship goes down. Trapped in holds, under piers, on an open beach, inside a beached ship waiting desperately for the tide to float it free. RAF pilots trapped in the cockpits of downed—and sinking—Spitfires.
And then…the cavalry arrived, the fleet of tiny private boats, yachts and coasters and coal haulers and tugs and basically anything that would float, coming across the English Channel to ferry the British Army back home.
Cavalry to the rescue—familiar. Always heartening. But this—it’s as if the Rohirrim arrived at the siege of Minas Tirith on Shetland ponies. (And this is not to diss ponies—I just watched a video of a team of Shetland stallions being used for logging—hauling huge trees out of the woods!) Tiny, brave, strong ponies. It’s Ewoks tacking on Stormtroopers.
So, whatever possessed me…Dunkirk was a good choice. It’s good to remember that people have—and continue to—rise to occasions, even the most unlikely.