Thursday, February 19, 2004

Episode 1 of "Dunkirk" on BBC2 last night was excellent. Filmed in the same edgy handheld style as "Band of Brothers", which can deliver real emotional punch when you briefly glimpse shocking events almost out of the corner of your eye. It also used a lot of archive footage intercut with the acted scenes, which I thought might be irritating but actually was very effective and gave us scenes of large-scale chaos and destruction which would have been impossibly expensive to do any other way.

I'm still shocked and angered by the scene where British POWs were crammed into a barn by the SS then massacred with grenades. Knowing that this was a reconstruction from a first-hand account makes it worse somehow.

I also felt a vague sense of shame throughout the episode. The British Army of 1940 was such a shambles - years of disarmament and appeasement had left us totally unable to stand up to the Wehrmacht. And from what I've read of WW2 history this amateurism persisted well into 1942 - Narvik, Dunkirk, Crete, Gazala, Singapore, a miserable sequence of botched defeats, often at the hands of inferior forces.

Anyway, unmissable stuff, I'll be there again tonight for episode 2, with the VCR running too.

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