Dunkirk vs Saving Private Ryan vs Hacksaw Ridge?
Having just left the movie “Dunkirk” my mind immediately went back to another movie. For that reason you’re seeing this post on “Dunkirk vs. Saving Private Ryan”. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers unless you didn’t know that the name “Dunkirk” referred to an actual historical event. Kids growing up in the ’60’s for whose parents World War II was a living memory probably know about it… today’s kids? Not so much.
Technically “Dunkirk” was the “Battle of Dunkirk” and after a British expeditionary force had been driven back to the sea by the Nazi Blitzkrieg,
Had the British forces been slaughtered or surrendered, there would have been nobody left to defend the Island from what would certainly been Hiter’s next move… Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain. As it was, the British left their weapons and other equipment on the beach. As Churchill himself admitted this was a humiliating defeat. The one redeeming factor was the British people taking every private seagoing vessel at their disposal to bring back as many souls as possible.
The story of the movie Dunkirk follows several protagonists whose actions would, of course, never undo the historical record.
While “Saving Private Ryan” was, indeed, set within the time frame of a historical incident, “D Day”, and followed an actual story in general about a family that was on the verge of losing 4 sons in war with an effort made to prevent the loss of the fourth son, it was a story that could be told with something of a happy ending. Not only was the last son saved, D Day began the turn of events that would result in the liberation of Europe.
Hacksaw Ridge is, of course, set in a similar time frame, World War II, and indeed a costly and lost battle,
So while Dunkirk and Saving Private Ryan are both set in historical contexts which can’t and won’t be altered by the actions of the protagonists, there’s a different quality to this movie too.
As graphic and gross as “Saving Private Ryan” was, it was a story with a happy resolution and some sense of victory, part of the overall success of movement of history in a sense.
On the other hand when comparing Dunkirk vs. Saving Private Ryan, even with the protagonists having a relatively happy outcome, the movie can’t escape the overall defeatism of the incident itself. Sure, it put human faces to the sad ordeal, but it will probably never be confused as a “rallying cry.”
In Hacksaw Ridge, the story is also set within a losing battle incident. The historical incident is dwarfed by the protagonist and his actions. The particular battle provides the setting for the story, but the hero’s personal story is something that could be transferred (in theory) to any number of historical contexts and battles and still be a powerful story.
Overall I’d rank “Dunkirk vs Saving Private Ryan vs Hacksaw Ridge” in reverse order. Of course that’s my personal call… you may have a completely different take… what do you think about Dunkirk vs Saving Private Ryan vs Hacksaw Ridge?
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