The recent blockbuster Dunkirk (2017) has been met with nothing but critical acclaim from the majority of people and critics. But, like all films, there are those that are disappointed. Granted there are a few reasons you could be disappointed. I’m not saying you can’t be disappointed, but at least make sure you’re upset for the right reasons.
Unlike the people over at Marie Claire, who in their review go on what I can only describe as a tirade against the film. A review for Dunkirk was published and has been lambasted by those that read it. My friend (you know who you are) sent me a link to the article and expressed their anger. Well, thank you, you’ve managed to give me something to write about. Because I think it’s worth mentioning why there’s the current equality problem in film. Lets face it, there sort of is a bit of a problem, but this review embodies everything wrong with the way in which we’re trying to achieve it.
So, without further ado, lets analyse this review of Dunkirk. I’ll be taking direct quotes from this review here, and making some notes of my own.
“…Christopher Nolan’s new directorial gift to men…” – This is where we hit our first problem. What does that sentence actually mean? That’s like saying Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003) is only for women. Surprisingly a film directed by Christopher Nolan can be enjoyed by women. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Dunkirk by women. Of course, I’ve also heard critiques from men, so what’s the problem?
“…I felt like I was going to vomit during it, because that’s how intense it was.” – Isn’t that the point of an action film? If an action film can make you feel such a high intensity then by God you’ve sold me on it and I’ll pre-order the DVD. Arguably, the intense feeling was the intended effect, so if you don’t like that feeling then you’re not going to like the film. But being a reviewer, you need to like every film. I despise horror, but I’ll still watch them because, hey, maybe there’s a good one out there.
“non-stop violent intensity of the film was it’s point… I present Harry Styles.” – Question, what’s wrong with having Harry Styles in your film? They go on to say that it’s distracting to the audience because he’s a recognisable face. I don’t watch The Hateful Eight (2015) and say “Oh my God, it’s Samuel L. Jackson”. Much the same way when watching Labyrinth (1986) I don’t yell “Oh my God, it’s David Bowie!” Well, I do, but that’s not the point. Singers and songwriters can have acting careers, and it’s only by pointing out their transition to acting that we notice it.
Harry Styles is the root of all evil
“…having a pop star casually show up in a film will inevitably remove the audience from the narrative…” – You have no idea how films work, do you. Sorry, that was harsh. Just because there’s a recognisable face from a different part of entertainment does not mean I will be taken out of the narrative. Again, see my above point for why Harry Styles being in this film has no effect on the wider viewing. If he can act, then what’s the problem.
I would quote it, but there’s a huge paragraph stating that although they understand this film is to commemorate the brave lives lost at Dunkirk, there should have been women. Also, you can’t watch this film if you’re a man is the message to take away from this. Snippets like “the general vibe…just screams “male-only” and you get the feeling that Dunkirk is a film for the lads and the lads alone. It should be noted that Harry Styles was cast on his ability to act, not that he was already famous.
I’m a very pretentious man
Now that is just me making assumptions. This person could very well love the action and biopic genre. I doubt it though, bloody men in all of them. But there was a bit in that review (I hope you read it) where if I try and debate why she dislikes the film then I’m pretentious. No, I’m trying to see the logic behind why you dislike the film, and have put it down to these pointers.
- Harry Styles was there, making you think back to the days of One Direction
- Dunkirk was very good, but because it was a mostly male cast, which is historically accurate, it can’t be a good film.
- Women can’t enjoy this film because men.
- Men aren’t allowed to celebrate maleness because, well that’s not entirely clear.
See, I have no problem with this review, well, I wouldn’t if she actually spoke much of the film. She does make a good point, why not make a film about the women of World War II? Something like The Imitation Game (2014), oh, that had a lead woman character? A strong and independent one that was integral to the story? Well, that doesn’t count or something I don’t know.
What I gather from this “review” (I hesitate to call it that, they don’t speak of how well acted, directed or written it is.) is that they’re upset the film doesn’t have women in it. That’s what it’s been presented as anyway, and that’s the message the general public are getting.
The call for equality in film
There is a definite need for equality in film. But let’s try and make it as clear as possible. The equality in the film should not impact the story, plot or direction whatsoever. Directors and producers should not feel pressured into changing a lead into female or male just because of equality. What there needs to be is concrete evidence that the best suited actor or actress is getting the role.
Remember Wonder Woman (2017)? Well, Gal Gadot only received $300,000 for her role. Disgraceful, right? Chris Hemsworth was only paid $150,000 for his first Marvel film, Thor (2011). Chris Hemsworth made the exact same amount as Gal Gadot for Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Equality in films is tricky, because it doesn’t mean equal pay or equal screen time. The bigger the net worth, the more highly paid an actor is. The more screentime, the more money they receive.
Equality in films is really just hiring the best actor or actress, making sure they’re paid accordingly to what their net worth stands as. Nothing more, and hopefully nothing less.