The Movie “Dunkirk” Denounced For Its “Maleness”

Dunkirk_Film_posterYesterday, I finally had a chance to see the movie “Dunkirk.” My son Jack had already seen the film but liked it enough to go back with me.  As a military history buff, you can imagine my reaction: I loved it.  It captured the dire acts of survival on that beach and in those ships while under constant air and ground attack.  Yet, despite overwhelming critical acclaim, some have objected that the film was too white and too male.  Mehera Bonner of Marie Claire magazine objected that “Dunkirk felt like an excuse for men to celebrate maleness — which apparently they don’t get to do enough.” 

 In her review, Bonner objected that “Dunkirk” “screams ‘men-only”:

But my main issue with Dunkirk is that it’s so clearly designed for men to man-out over. And look, it’s not like I need every movie to have “strong female leads.” Wonder Woman can probably tide me over for at least a year, and I understand that this war was dominated by brave male soldiers. I get that. But the packaging of the film, the general vibe, and the tenor of the people applauding it just screams “men-only”—and specifically seems to cater to a certain type of very pretentious man who would love nothing more than to explain to me why I’m wrong about not liking it.

It probably should not come as much a surprise that Bonner did not like the film given her personal description at the magazine: “Brooklyn-dwelling Entertainment editor with a love for Twin Peaks, 90s teen romances, and movies about summer.”

600px-Dunkirksoldier1The funny thing is that (speaking as someone who constantly watched military and cowboy films to the irritation of my family) Dunkirk was the least likely to be denounced as “an excuse for men to celebrate maleness.”  The film showed men terrified and crying in the heat of the battle.  This was not macho John Wayne film (which I admit loving), but a film showing men displaying the full range of emotional responses from unrestrained panic to unbrittled courage to impenetrable shock.  Even Winston Churchill’s response to the evacuation dismissed efforts to over sensationalize the moment: “we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

It would have been difficult to insert many female roles in the film, though Christopher Nolan succeeded on the margins.  There were obviously not many women on that beach.  In the end, 338,226 soldiers were rescued by over 800 boats.

DUNKIRK1940I understand that this perspective will be dismissed by Bonner as another “random man will come up to you after and explain why you’re wrong for disliking it.”  What is most striking is not just the hostility toward the film but the hostility toward men reflected in the review.  There may be readers at Marie Claire who like this type of bashing of men but it is a cheap and rather sophomoric angle.  The problem with defining your writing by your gender is that you can easily fall into patterns of formulaic identity critiques.  A film about incredible courage and struggle can take on a more sexist meaning when viewed through the lens of gender.  The irony is that Dunkirk was not about combat but a type of nonviolent courage as average people took their small boats into a combat zone to rescue strangers.  Unfortunately, to see that you have to look beyond the gender of the actors.

151 thoughts on “The Movie “Dunkirk” Denounced For Its “Maleness””

  1. I really don’t know why this particular critique of the film was deemed important enough for a post here.

    Dunkirk was part of an episode of Foyle’s War and was well done. I haven’t gone to a movie in years so I probably won’t see this one. I don’t need to see another war movie to understand the complete and utter insanity of war. Actually, I got that message in middle school when I read “Johnny Got His Gun” as a library loan. It should have been a school assignment. It’s not too late to make it so.

    I support the making and seeing of such movies in the hopes that a few more men will understand that it’s far more important to NOT fight the war for rich men and corporations that make war materials so they can rape and pillage the resources of the country. I have much more respect for those say “no”, even if it means exile or the brig. This country made the rules for war, we are the biggest violators of those rules, and no one is prosecuted for war crimes except for low-level scapegoats (not smart enough to say “no”), not those giving the orders.

    1. bettykath shows her complete ignorance. If her ilk prevailed, we would all be speaking German and blonde. WW2 HAD TO BE FOUGHT!

      1. I don’t know Nick, John Maynard Keynes (social critic, not the silly economist version of himself) tried to tell everyone where they were heading. Besides, who runs things over there now anyway? But, bettykath inadvertently begs the question: who will fight the liberal wars if the war-fighting class sees their President yanked in a deep state and MSM coup?

  2. I’m just amazed that Hollywood is still making films that are fairly historically accurate. Shocker.

  3. “Progressive’s idea is to replace men w/ government.” Camille Paglia

    1. And the government will be run by women such as Maxine Waters, HRC, Nancy Pelosi and Loretta Lynch…with Cecil Richards as Sec. of HHS who will institute a mandate restricting the number of male babies allowed to live past gestation.

    2. Paglia is right. The inevitable outcome when the government pays women to have multiple children out of wedlock, while simultaneously banishing men from the home.

      1. Those enrolled in TANF today number about 4.3 million. Those enrolled AFDC in 1996 numbered 12 million. The motor for illegitimacy is not TANF.

  4. The French have a legitimate bit@h, from what I have heard, but other than that, women were incidental. This is just bitching to be bitchy. The Longest Day has one women in the entire 3 hour film and it is a minor part. If I remember the story, she was added so wives and girlfriends would go with their significant others. 🙂

      1. …ah, but then again, they would complain that there are too many men in it.

    1. Mespo, Dunkirk was visually stunning. Victorian stoicism that persisted long after the devastation of WWI on display throughout. Rylance, Branagh, and Murphy were spot on; watching Hardy was like watching 10-minutes of Locke, performed behind an oxygen mask–all emotion translated through the eyes. The confusion and barely-controlled sense of panic the soldiers obviously felt were palpable, even though much of the bombing was implied and not shown.

        1. Hope I didn’t oversell it. Have you seen Atonement? The Dunkirk scene in that movie is a study in contrasts to the Nolan film. You’ll know what I mean after you see it–am interested in your response.

    2. Wow! I had not read about this flick, mespo. Gary Oldman is one of my favorite actors, a REAL actor. And Churchill is someone I’ve studied extensively. All he did was save the world.

      1. Nick – Churchill wasn’t Mr. Nice Guy. And he and Stalin set us up for the Cold War.

          1. Nick – When you come to the fork in the road, take it. – Yogi Berra. 😉

          2. Nick – When you come to the fork in the road, take it. – Yogi Berra.

        1. Paul, I don’t think so. If you blamed that on FDR who IMO was incapacitated at the end of the war then I might agree. Churchill fought with Roosevelt on exactly this issue.

            1. Paul, you bring up an interesting piece of history not known until long after the war. This would involve a very in depth analysis of what had happened and what happened at the time. I believe it was a forgone conclusion of Churchill that such a Cold War would exist and I believe he coined the term. FDR would be dead in just over 6 months and he had excluded Churchill from certain discussions with Stalin making Churchill a junior partner. FDR was far more lenient on the behavior of Stalin and that was a bone of contention between Churchill and FDR. Britain also had more or less lost an empire and if you recall the Lend Lease etc. meant that certain British possessions and bases were released some of which were turned over to the Americans.

              Thus though to some degree I believe you to be correct in your statement, the set up for the cold war existed with or without this agreement and Churchill may have also been making sure FDR didn’t bargain away even more of certain British interests. I actually wouldn’t mind a further analysis of this agreement but I felt it too difficult a task on a blog such as this.

              1. allan – this blog needs a side channel for discussions like this. 😉 Look up Churchill and the ‘naughty papers’ and you will find he and Uncle Joe screwed FDR and Europe.

                1. Paul, are you saying that Stalin and FDR didn’t screw Churchill, that FDR and Churchill didn’t screw Stalin? My point is that long before the naughty papers were written the die was cast, the Cold War would exist in one form or another. Therefore it was not Churchill and Stalin alone that set us up for the Cold War rather the circumstances that evolved before, during and after the war. One of our more notorious generals recognized this and was taken to task for saying what he believed publically. If it were up to him the end of the war might have meant a hot war with the Soviet Union. On April 12 1945 FDR died and Truman took over the Presidency. He was healthier and I believe had a better grasp as to what was coming in the future. One of the reasons (not the main one) to drop the bomb at that time was to prevent the Soviets from becoming more involved in our war against Japan so that after the war the boundaries set wouldn’t include a Soviet boundary in Asia.

                  Yes, it would be good if a side channel existed, but it doesn’t so we have to live with what we got, a lot of sound bites and not as much considered thought.

                  1. allan – if you are talking about generals, you are going to have to name names. 🙂 Granted, Stalin outplayed Roosevelt, mostly because he has his rooms bugged at Yalta. Roosevelt thought he could handle Uncle Joe but he was in no condition. We wanted the Soviets to attack the Japanese, however they didn’t until we dropped the first bomb. Truman told Stalin about the bomb and was surprised by the lack of surprise shown by Stalin. Stalin’s spies had already be shipping him plans from Los Alamos.

                    1. Patton.

                      I think there is a lot more than just bugging the room. Churchill and Roosevelt had different visions of the world and some believe Stalin’s personality may have swayed some of Roosevelt’s thinking.

                      If the Soviets attacked the Japanese then the Soviets would have wanted a piece of the settlement. AT one time Roosevelt may have desired such an attack, but I do not believe Truman did. That is one reason to end the war quickly because the Russians were readying themselves to enter this portion of the war. The A bomb helped end the war quickly.

                      Truman told Stalin about the bomb I believe as a way of exerting power to increase his ability to negotiate with Stalin regarding the division of post war Europe. In any event Stalin was told about a week after Chruchill who was told shortly after the A bomb test was successful. The Atomic bomb was dropped a short time later, the date being determined by weather conditions.

                    2. Paul, I should have added that if you are interested in this portion of history see the play Copenhagen. I saw it in London when it first came out and then saw it in the US at a later date. Because of the questions about Heisingberg brought up in the play the children released their father’s letters ( Neils Bohr ) earlier than planned. Because of that the end of the play had to be rewritten.

                    3. allan – there is a long distance between a play and reality. I am basing mine on reports from the various conferences the Presidents went to. Also, Churchill’s five books on the war.

                    4. Paul, the play has nothing to do with our discussion of history. I only brought it up as an interest piece for those interested in the A-bomb, Heisinger and Bohr. My discussion above is based upon my recollection of respected histories and historians.

                      The play involved questions regarding the release of the bomb. Heisenberg always said (after his capture) that he was delaying creation of the bomb and that the allies were the one’s that actually dropped it. The children’s release of the Bohr letters apparently proved the opposite.

                2. Churchill did what every PM since Disraeli had done and aligned Britain with world’s second most powerful threat to England against her most powerful threat. It’s classic Anglo-politics and, of course, Churchill was the master Victorian statesman. Churchill encouraged the Cold War to pit his two greatest rivals against one another. Like I said on a other thread, Winston understood that today’s ally is tomorrow’s rival is the day after that’s enemy.

                  1. That is the way Britain wielded its power when it was most powerful and that is the way we have managed our affairs as well. I don’t think Churchill was looking towards a Cold War to keep America down. He knew a Cold War was going to exist and was trying to figure out how Britain could remain a major player while at the same time preserving her national interests. He needed the US as an ally being faced with a Russian enemy on the border with Europe along with a Germany that could rise for a third time

                    I like to look at the difference between our former realpolitic vs Obama’s foreign policy of creating vacuums for our enemies to fill.

                    1. mespo, I agree wholeheartedly. A glaring example of the man’s hubris.

                    2. “Obama was a vacuum when it came to foreign policy”

                      Agreed mespo and that is why the world is in a worse state than when he took office. He knew nothing about foreign affairs nor how different parties work together. He was a community organizer that knew how to destroy, but not how to build.

  5. Personally, I’m upset by all the femaleness I noticed in “Little Women.” All that sister stuff being bandied about: “And they realized they weren’t little girls, they were little women” nonsense. I know you’re going to say, “Well it’s about women,” but I can be as stupid as Mehera Bonner, though I admit I do have to try harder.

    1. Same w/ Ann of Green Gables. We just got back from PEI where that book is an industry. It’s just about a girl and girliness for chrissake!

  6. Here’s a WWII love song “Erika” with actual German combat video. Can you spot the women?

  7. A nonsensical argument by a vapid shill. I’m mystified as to why JT brought it to RIL. I imagine the commentary will be fairly consistent; I suppose very few, if any, here would agree with the writer’s position.

  8. Thirty years ago, the statements by this woman would have been viewed as so ridiculous, nobody would take her seriously much less afford her a position with a respected publication.

    By her logic the movie “The Women” (2008) should be denounced as a film made for “females to celebrate femininity” because it screams “women only”; which is completely accurate because if I remember correctly there are no males until the end when a male baby is shown.

    1. By her logic the movie “The Women” (2008) should be denounced

      You’re forgetting the primary feature of the phenomenon which is called ‘feminism’: the assumption that women have options, while men have obligations (in this case, the obligation to not be within her field of vision).

  9. She gets paid to write puff pieces about celebrities and TV series like Game of Thrones.

    Why would anyone take seriously what she claims to like or dis like?

  10. The film is fiction. There are many historical inaccuracies, medium sized and small. The lack of females is not one of the errors.

  11. Oh Boy, another whiny a$$ virtue-signaler! That’s all you have to do anymore to be patted on the head and told what a good little White girl you are!

    Thank you Liberal Democrats and Main Stream Media!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. What a whinocerous. The fact that she doesn’t like the movie because of its “maleness” says more about her than it does about the movie.

    The movie was an outstanding depiction of what happened. Enjoy it for what it is.

    She can go help make another movie about an aspect of WWII where women made outstanding contributions. That wouldn’t bother me in the least. And it would probably be far more productive and beneficial than her whining.

    1. War and “outstanding contributions” are exact opposite concepts. One is mayhem, maiming, murder, destruction, and plunder; the other is contributing to the quality of life for all. Most women don’t “contribute” to mayhem, destruction, and murder. They more typically provide kindness and compassion to everyone around them.

  13. Brave men in a horrible situation. An empire of the cusp of defeat. An evil dictatorship on the verge of victory.

    We have all the elements of great history, told well.

    And Ms. Bonner worries about quotas ans minority participation. Ms. Bonner truly has the soul of a big government bureaucrat.

  14. Some people just seem to suck the joy out of life. Amazing she actually referred to other people as pretentious.

  15. “Stupid comment. In WWII near the beginning of WWII how many females were in active combat units? How many French stayed in the area if they had time to beat feet outta there? Now let’s look at the private small boats that came back and forth from England to evacuate the troops. How many crews were female?” I really don’t know but I would bet the house it was a small number…if any.”

    So what do the feminists want? Phony up some fake history?? How about this. Why not go out and fight for the right to have to sign up for the draft selective service like the men. You want respect? Earn it? Or maybe lead the charge to repeal the draft as a law? Something…anything… Silence is deafening so go get your free college loan money. It was meant for soldiers. What was your excuse.

    1. “Why not go out and fight for the right to have to sign up for the draft selective service like the men. You want respect? Earn it?”

      Too hard….better to whinge incessantly about non-existent white male privilege…..victimology is so much easier for these pampered princesses. How lucky we are that the writer has a platform to influence other non-critical thinkers so that they end up believing the same drivel.

      1. Thanks for the video CCS. Like Mespo pointed out, looking forward to Oldman’s performance. Very good points in there. Main point being that government distribution of “free wealth” is the root cause of a lot of the strange entitlement behavior we frequently see. Someday (probably pretty soon with a world-widely despised government that is $20 trillion in the hole), these people will have to face the cold grip of reality.

    2. I hate to say this, but it seems that since the commonality of this type argument is so prevalent, younger generations seem to think they can rewrite reality to fit their own purposes–history included. Like a video game. “I don’t like this game, I’m going to change the circumstances (in this case, simulated historical events) to ones that I am comfortable with. We all like to make our lives more agreeable, but this may explain why these arguments are so foreign to the way we (boomers) process information. We see reality as a base point to adjust to, but the younger folks see that as editable. At least it gives me a way to understand the many extremely short-sight and naive comments we see here.

      1. Interesting point, slorhrss29. In the way you describe it, the behaviors are almost a form of gaslighting, although not in the traditional sense. At any rate, the discomfort of the younger generations increases the more time they spend on their technology and not out in the world.

        1. Cape, I am a walker. I love to walk through college campuses. it looks like a scifi movie to this mid 60’s male. I don’t listen to music, wear jewelry or obsessively use my phone. They ALL walk around w/ ear buds, looking at “their little TV’s” as Dana Carvey calls them in his latest, funny, standup concert on Netflix. It’s obvious Carvey is a conservative, but he is smart enough to tread softly. He still has to make money in liberal showbiz!

          1. Nick, I hear ya. Tough to see the lost generation falling over bike racks as they trudge from class to class. We love Dana Carvey. For an assignment in 8th-grade English class, #2 son excerpted the “evildoers” bit from Carvey’s Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies comedy show lambasting Dubya. Only the teacher knew who son was pretending to be, and this was at a liberal school…..SMH….these are the students you see walking around campuses. Perhaps Dana will teach them something. Thanks for the heads up on the Netflix show.

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