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Pondering Dunkirk and Darkest Hour

My post movie ponders...


View from Kealakomo Overlook
Sunburst seen from the overlook which is on the Chain of Craters Road in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

My sister and I finally had a chance to see Darkest Hour, Here’s the story summary:

During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds.

This and Dunkirk are my two favorite movies of the recent past, though I got a kick out of the new Jumanji. I will confess I did not make it to the theater to see either The Greatest Showman or the new Star Wars. I’ll have to see both when they release in digital.

So, the two movies I did see. I am not sure why, but I’ve been fascinated with World War II since I was little. I’ve watched the movies and read a lot of the books (and written a book set in WWII). I’ve even seen a lot of the truly awful WWII movies. I will admit a preference for the lighter ones, like Father Goose and The Wackiest Ship in the Army. In the “based on a true story” ones, I can’t ever forget that so much of what I’m watching really happened. When a Japanese plane dives on a ship, I remember my uncle, 19 years old and just out training, dying on a ship when a plane crashed into it where he was manning a machine gun.

These two movies, Darkest Hour and Dunkirk were not awful or funny (though Darkest Hour did have funny moments — Churchill was quite the wit). Mostly, they were emotionally wrenching. So here are a post-viewing ponders:

1. Watching these movies from the future, I am struck by the realization that they did what they did when they thought all was lost. They were losing and almost no one thought they would ultimately win. And fearing defeat, they fought on. They fought on because it was the right thing to do and because they wanted to go down fighting, not rolling over and giving up.

2. All the people who fought, who made decisions—they were all flawed people, from the top down and the bottom up. None of them were perfect. What made them the Greatest Generation was their refusal to surrender. They kept going, even as comrades fell on either side of them. They refused to quit, to stop, to surrender.

3. Individual actions matter, especially in the midst of life-changing events. Everyone in those small boats that helped evacuate Dunkirk mattered. The ones who made it and the ones who didn’t. They were human beings who did ask for war, but when their freedom was threatened, they stepped up.

4. Hope matters. Even in their darkest hours, the Greatest Generation did not give up. They grew up far too young, but they did not give up.

When I walk away from time spent in this particular past, I always wonder if I would have been brave enough for long enough? Would I have done my part?

I hope so.

Have you seen either of these movies? Did you emerge with any post-ponders? What movies have you seen since the holidays? What did you like/dislike about them?

Perilously yours,


P.S. Jack Black was hilarious in the new Jumanji.

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