Sunday, July 23, 2017

HOME: Dunkirk

Perhaps I understood 50% of the dialogue in Dunkirk, but as we know from previous films, this is actually a part of Nolan's strategy: sometimes he doesn't want us to understand what his characters are saying; why not? Because it actually deepens the message. In the chaotic evacuations of the beaches, how can we understand what they are saying? We can't possibly relate to their situation, or make the kinds of choices they are being forced to make between life and death, as when Alex (Harry Styles) insists that "Gibson" get off the boat, or how we can't hear poor George articulating the desires of his heart as he lays dying on the floor; it may seem cruel to us sitting in the comfy chairs of the air conditioned theater, munching popcorn and sipping our Cokes, but these soldiers were not only fighting for their lives, but their countries, and trying to uphold their honor as best as possible, and their enemies were not only the Germans, but the elements and their own physical limitations (hunger, drowning, exhaustion). How can we understand what they say? We can't possibly begin to put ourselves in their positions, and Nolan's mastery reveals itself in these communications between the master storyteller and his audience. There are, no doubt, still those who, knowing what Nolan intends, would still rather "understand what is being said," because it's a emotionally less vulnerable position for the audience to occupy, that of armchair observer and judge, rather than allow Nolan to erase the false boundaries of security we erect around our little worlds to protect our personal notions and the very fact that we aren't qualified--on any level at all--to judge any of what we see and hear. Nolan employs noise (or the inability to understand what characters say) to engage the audience on a deeper level than what most film makers would even consider daring. The inaudible speech, then, highlights even more the audible speech, when we can clearly understand the words, like the differences between what the Shivering Soldier (Cillian Murphy) says, to the epic speech of Sir Winston Churchill, and how different are their agendas are for the future of the world unfolding that day. It's always tempting to complain about certain elements Nolan intentionally weaves into his narratives, but if we allow the great man to work his magic, work his magic he will
Towards the end of the film, there is a man pass out blankets and food to returning soldiers, saying to each one, "Good job," but he doesn't look up at them; Alex (Harry Styles), ashamed they had to be evacuated, takes the blanket and goes on down the line, but when Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) comes to the man, the man looks up, and we perceive he's blind; his puts his hand to Tommy's face to "see" the best he can, who the soldier in front of him is, and then the blind man tells Tommy, "Good job," and gives him a blanket and food; on the train, Alex says to Tommy, "That old bloke wouldn't even look us in the face," supposedly because he was ashamed of them, but Tommy knows better, why?
Besides the blind man at the end of the film, I think George is my favorite character of the film, because of his humility and his willingness to put others first. In my first post on Dunkirk and the "ineffable," I noted how George is supposed to toss the rope he holds back into the boat and stay on the dock, but instead, he gets on the boat to go into war with Mr. Dawson and his friend Peter; why? The rope symbolizes an umbilical cord, and just as a baby within the womb of its mother is fed and nourished to life by the umbilical cord, so the Moonstone will be an umbilical cord for George; but he dies, you might argue; and I would respond, a greater and better George is born. When the Shivering Soldier knocks George down the stairs, and George hits his head, what does he do? He curls up in a fetal position, like a baby in the womb, the womb of the ship, and yes, he dies, but he was born a hero. But he didn't do anything! you may still argue, and that would be a good argument, except that he does do something: he saves the Shivering Soldier. Mr Dawson tells George that the Shivering Soldier has shell shock and he may never get over it, but the Shivering Soldier does get over it by expressing his concern over George, in other words, having George's condition to focus on and care about brings Shivering Soldier out of his shivering and coldness (like the coldness of heart he expressed to Tommy and Alex as they were swimming to the boat Shivering Soldier was in charge of, but he wouldn't let Tommy and Alex in the boat, telling them instead to tread water and another boat would be around for them). George, then, no only saves the Shivering Soldier from the shell shock by making him realize that reality is still happening around him, but cures him of his emotional coldness, so George is not only a hero for going into war when he could have stayed at the safety of the dock, George is also a hero for saving a man's life from ruin.
When George falls, it's like he has taken the Shivering Soldier's "fall" from grace (coldness of heart and shell shock) upon himself, as Christ took the sins of our fall from grace upon Himself. We know that George hits his head and then he can't see; just like the blindness of the blind man at the end of the film, George "can't see" how his sacrifice will prove heroic, because that a boy so young would die to suddenly and seemingly for no reason, doesn't make sense (George hitting his head, because the head is where we "make sense" of things). George mentions to Peter that he would have liked to become a reporter for the town newspaper, but George does better than that: he becomes a story himself.
The idea of George having a "moment" when he makes a difference, just like Peter, Dawson, Collins, Farrier and all the other captains of the little boats who come to save their boys, was something we also saw in Transformers 5: The Last Knight, when Sir Burton (Anthony Hopkins) attacks an enemy and buys Cade a few extra moments; as he lays dying, he says, "I had my moment," and even though no one else in the world knows what he did, and how it helped saved the world, he knew; George, in Dunkirk, on the other hand, doesn't realize how his sacrifice saved the Shivering Soldier, and usually, that's how our own sacrifices in our life will be: we won't know until we stand before God, and either He will be able to show us all the good things we did, even though no one but He saw, or He will be forced to show us all the things we thought no one would see and we could get away with, but He was watching, and that's how we chose to spend our time here instead of doing good.
"Sight" and "blindness" play an important role in the film: for example, "You can almost see it form here," Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) tells his Lieutenant, and then, when Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) is heading his boat to Dunkirk, and airplanes come up behind them and Dawson doesn't look back to see if they are British or German, George (Barry Keoghan) mentions, "You didn't even have to look," then there is the young soldier who looks through a bullet hole in the side of the ship and he gets shot in the eye, George falling and going blind, oil in Tommy's eyes, Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) who sees an easy way to get out of situations, Farrier (Tom Hardy) who can't see how much fuel his plane has left, there's George's dead body that the Shivering Soldier (Cillian Murphy) doesn't see and how he doesn't want to go back to Dunkirk because all he sees there is death, there's the way the English soldier died that Gibson buries that we don't see, and why Gibson can't get out of the boat when it's sinking, there's the stuck landing gear of Farrier's plane he can't see and then his fate of surrendering to the Germans at the end of the film that we don't see and there are all the soldiers who once lined the pier that the sleeping private wakes and doesn't see, realizing he's the last one to be evacuated. So, back to the original question, who--in a metaphorical sense--is the blind man at the end of the film?
Blind faith.
In terms of the theme of "seeing" and "not seeing," this scene is important: they know they are surrounded by the enemy, even though they can't see them, the enemy knows they are there and helpless; they do, however, see another enemy in action, and that enemy is despair, physically manifested by the soldier who walks onto the beach, dropping his gear, and dives into the water to drown himself, because he has all ready drowned himself in despair (which is the opposite of blind faith, it's blind pessimism and foreboding; we discuss the suicide more at the bottom of the post); why does the man commit suicide? Because he has no faith in his English brethren to care about him and save him from the beach. Even though this man dies, we can see something else being born (as the rope George holds as he jumps onto the Moonstone to join the Dawsons going to war, so the foam on the beach surrounding the young men can be seen as a birth symbol, because it was from sea foam that Aphrodite was born, and the young men, watching even as this other soldier would rather end his life than wait just a little longer, have to make a choice: will they have faith in Churchill and their officers to get them out? You see, the reason each and every choice we make is so heavily emphasized in Nolan films is because with each and every choice, we change who we are: we are never static, we are always changing. The young men pictured here are choosing not to give up hope, not to give into despair, just as they are not giving into the Germans to surrender, and so they are being born anew as the soldiers who wouldn't die, the soldiers who wouldn't give in, the soldiers who believed and fought with their hope and faith; this moment changes them, as does every moment in their lives, and every moment in your life and mine. Every single decision we make prepares us to make the next decision, and to make it with as much heroic virtue as possible, even if that is just as simple as returning someone's hate with kindness, no one might see it, but it will have an immediate impact in the person we become because of the decisions we choose to make.
Let's talk about "Gibson." At the start of the film, we see Tommy escape the opening gunfire, and make his was to the beach; he goes behind a dune to "relieve nature" and doesn't because he sees a man burying another man; Tommy stops and helps bury the guy, and at the time, I thought the dead soldier had all ready been dead and "Gibson" needed new shoes, or a new uniform. We see Gibson then help Tommy carry the stretcher with the wounded man to the Red Cross ship, and manage to get on, then when they are kicked off, he shows him where to hide, and so many times, Gibson saves Tommy, almost like a silent guardian angel, but then, Alex accuses Gibson of being a Frenchman who murdered that English soldier,... so what happened? Tommy stands up for Gibson, that there were plenty of dead English soldiers on the beach, but we see those English soldiers, they are laying in the open, covered, because they are going to be carried back to England for burial at home, none of them are being buried on the beach where their bodies will exposed by the tides,... this detail suggests that the Frenchman did, indeed, kill the Englishman and take on his identity of "Gibson," not as a spy, but just trying to get to safety like everyone else. However, the scene has a far more sinister, and real historical equivalent: what has come to be known as the half-hearted Saar Offensive which happened prior to Dunkirk, when the French were supposed to have attacked the Germans at an extremely vulnerable point so they would have been permanently weakened and not have secured their offensive foothold so strongly, but the French failed to launch any attack, and retreated. The body of the dead English soldier Tommy helps "Gibson" bury has his bare foot sticking up in the air; we know that feet symbolize will, and nudity or nakedness symbolizes "exposure," so Alex, later in the boat, exposes "Gibson" for having killed the soldier, because with the failure of the Saar Offensive, so many English soldiers died who didn't have to if the French had actually followed through with the Offensive, rather than just retreating, and so the will of the French is "exposed" by Alex (the dead English soldier's bare feet). The failure of the Saar Offensive is what lead to the start of the ""Phoney War" when neither the Allied powers nor Germany and her allies, were able to launch offensives even though war had been declared, just as "Gibson" isn't really Gibson, but is a "phoney" English soldier. We know that a character never dies unless they are "all ready dead" in some manner, and "Gibson" would not have died if Nolan didn't want to communicate to us, the viewers, that Gibson/what he represents is a form of death; but Gibson saves Tommy so many times! you might argue, and you are absolutely correct: how many brave French men and women risked and gave their lives, family, property and everything to defeat the Germans? No one but God will ever know, because they fought so long and hard, even while being occupied, just as Gibson makes so many rescues for Tommy; Nolan points out, however, that had the French acted at the perfect opportune time with the Saar Offensive, how many French and English lives would have been saved, property and damage? 
The blind man (played by John Nolan, who is the uncle of writer/director Christopher Nolan and his genius brother Jonathan Nolan, and has been in several of his nephews' films) looks down as he passes out the blankets; why? It's a sign of humility, to keep one's eyes averted; he hands out gray blankets, why? Gray is the color of pilgrims and the color of penance (because it's the color of ashes) but it's also the color of a novice, and while the blanket is a symbol of warmth (like human warmth we give to one another with our words and empathy, for example), Alex doesn't take the gestures of the blind man to be those of warmth because Alex is blind himself, just as he doesn't see that the man is blind, so Alex can't see what is happening on a larger scale (so Alex is actually the character with whom most people in the audience should be identifying themselves because so few people live by faith) so the man handing out the blankets is a source of shame and Alex doesn't want to recognize who he really is, just as Alex didn't want to give Gibson the benefit of a doubt earlier in the film, the difference, then, between Alex and Tommy becomes what they choose to see and then do with it. So, why does the blind man put his hand on Tommy's face?
What most of the men on the beach won't see, or hear, is the conversation which takes place between the officers (top image) when they figure out what to do and how to do it: 400,000 men can't be saved, they reason, but hopefully we can save 30,000 to still have an army that can win a battle another day,.... of course those sound like cruel and inhuman calculations they make, but we the audience don't see the darkness of invasion facing these officers, the years of war they believe are ahead of them, the strength of the Germans and the pain of the surprise attacks that cornered them into this part of the world to begin with. None of the officers see the support the "little boats" will bring with them, and the giant effort for rescue they will manage (but note how often Bolton reaches for the binoculars, to "see" more clearly what is coming). In the bottom image, a German plane has appeared, and is ready to tear the beach and pier up with gunfire, and Bolton closes his eyes because he's right in the path of the plane and he knows he won't make it out of this moment alive, but what he doesn't see is Farrier behind him and ready to take him out, and the sacrifice Farrier is making because of his fuel source, but later, Bolton does see, when Farrier's plane flies by and the propeller isn't turning, he's just gliding in the air, and everyone knows he's out of fuel, and that he stayed to fight instead of turning back.
Let's talk about Bolton for a moment and how his character is presented to us. Look at his mouth: he hardly has one, his lips are so thin; why? Bolton has no "appetite" for war. He has quite blond hair because his thoughts are like gold, in other words, the thoughts he thinks, are the best thoughts to have in that moment, like when he looks and sees the little boats, and his lieutenant asks him what he sees, and he says, "Home," or when the Red Cross boat is sinking, and he knows that if it sinks right there, that will block other boats from being able to rescue the rest of the men, so he knows the difficult call must be made, even as men are dying on the ship, that it has to be cut loose and pushed to sea, or they wouldn't be able to save anyone. It's because of those moments that Bolton has gold embroidery on his uniform, he is the "king" at this beach, and he has to make the decisions and sacrifices for his men that will mean the most, but it's not an easy decision to make, which is why his coat is a dark blue, he has to exercise wisdom, but that wisdom comes from the sadness of his sacrifices. However, he's a man of faith, which is why he has the white sweater (white symbolizes faith and hope) and it's a sweater because his faith keeps him warm from the coldness of despair.
There is one other important detail: wedding bands. At different times, we see different men wearing their wedding bands, At key moments, we will see one of the men's wedding bands, it specifically catches our eyes; why? Nolan is making a point. We know that our hands symbolize our honor, and a wedding band indicates that we have taken a pledge to honor another person for the rest of our lives. America is in a terrible predicament, with the majority of couples deciding not to get married, and for the first time since 1950, there are more single people in America than those who are married. Nolan seems to be pointing out to men that marriage is a sign of a man's honor, and not being married is to not behave honorably (living with your girlfriend instead of being married and legitimate).
We know that the face symbolizes our identity, more than any other part of ourselves, it's by our facial features that we are recognized, so the face is the manifestation of our individuality. The hand symbolizes our honor, because when we give our word, when we make a vow, we "shake hands on it," we keep our hands clean and free from "dirty deeds," so the hand of honor of the blind man ("blind faith," metaphorically speaking) covers the identity and individuality of a young English soldier who was just evacuated,.... who fits this description? The film tells us in the next scene: Winston Churchill.
Both pilots, Collins (top) and Farrier (bottom) find themselves in interesting positions in the film. Collins, hit by enemy gunfire, opens his cockpit to parachute out, but then decides to close it and land on the water (he sees the Dawson's boat nearby, how does the simple act of closing his cockpit window alter the events? Had Collins parachuted out, Dawson would probably not have gone back for him, and Collins might not have made it landing in the water; with his cockpit window stuck, Peter was able to insist they go back so they could save him; having Collins on board with them, they are able to rescue more men, faster, and avoid the oil, so when an enemy plane crashes into the oil and lights the water surface with flames, Dawson has avoided getting his boat burned, and he can carry on with his mission.
Farrier, the only pilot left in the sky to defend the men and boats below, can't see his fuel gauge; why? None of us can see our "fuel gauges," only God knows how far we can go, because we wouldn't want to go that far if we could, so we have to have faith in God, that when we do run out of gas, just like Farrier, we will switch to our reserve tanks (God's grace) and keep going because others need us to.Why does Farrier's landing gear get stuck? Because Farrier and Collins both became miracles for others, by willingly going into this dangerous situation and be "sitting ducks," God performed miracles for them so they would have some idea of the greatness God had just worked through them: Peter breaking open Collins' cockpit hatch when he was about to drown, and Farrier getting his landing gear down in spite of it getting stuck, so they would know how important miracles are in everyone's life, and they would be willing to be the instrument of miracles again in the future. 
Just as Alex doesn't see that the blind man is blind, so he also can't see that Winston Churchill's speech about the evacuation would be one of celebration and thanksgiving, one of gratitude and awe, that when the enemy's forces were aimed at wiping you out, and you managed to survive, survival is a victory, but the words we hear Tommy reading, repeating from Churchill's great speech, has just been manifested by the blind man in the previous scene when the two young men were boarding the train: it's meant to communicate that even though there are future defeats in store and they should prepare themselves now to hear of those defeats (the blanket to keep them warm in the cold, hard truth of war) because the war is young (gray for the novice), there will be the victory, because not a single one of them will never surrender, each one will take up the honor of defending the homeland, and being one who sacrifices and gives everything the moment demands to protect and enable the ultimate defeat of the enemy, and it will be the anonymous soldiers like Tommy and civilians like Mr. Dawson who do so, but are in no way anonymous to Prime Minister Churchill. He knows everyone of them is a son, husband, brother, father, and loved and cherished. So, the final question, how has the events at Dunkirk shaped our world today?
One of the technical means by which Nolan signs Dunkirk with such artistry, is the application of extremes: when Tommy first steps onto the beach at the opening of the film, we notice how neat, tidy and professionally organized everything is, in contrast to the horrible chaos that we can't see, but we know is there. We've been watching Tommy, a single, young individual suddenly standing amidst 400,000 others who are indistinguishable, but each just as anxious to get home as the next, and everyone of them the whole world to someone waiting for word about their safety back home. Then there is the huge contrast between the battleships and the little boats (bottom image), like the contrast between an individual and an entire army, but it shows, what one single person is capable of doing, and the immense difference each and everyone of us can make in this world. And for Christopher Nolan, I think that's everything.
What propelled Dawnson to answer the call to go to Dunkirk, or Collins and Farrier, Tommy and Alex? As Dawson, Peter and George are headed to Dunkirk, Dawson faces east, and planes fly over his head; George asks why he didn't look to check if they were ours or enemy planes, and Dawson replies he knows the sound of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, "The sweetest sound out here," he adds. That reference to "Merlin," while obviously about an engine, works in the same manner as so many other metaphors in the film (like the blind man, the phoney Gibson, Farrier's fuel gauge, etc.) because it's the identity of Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of England that propels Dawson and all of England. We have, of course, seen Arthur invoked in Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword and Transformers: The Last Knight, because he serves as the example, par excellence, of what bravery and self-sacrifice means, and why the English hold him so dear to their hearts: he reflects the very heart of England itself. The point is, such a noble inspiration would not be so continuously summoned today, if he were not needed back so desperately in these, our own perilous times.
One last note about Dawson: actor Mark Rylance portrayed a Soviet spy in Steven Spielberg's film Bridge of Spies; while I personally didn't like the film, it was incredibly pro-socialist, I think it's highly possible that Nolan wanted Rylance to portray Dawson because of the story of "Standing Man" Rylance's character narrates to Tom Hanks' character: Dawson himself, the English army and civilian force, become "Standing Man" who, no matter how often and savagely beaten down they are, will get back up, and stand to fight yet another day.
"The call went out," Mr. Dawson tells the Shivering Soldier (Cillian Murphy) "And I'm not the only one who has answered it," he goes on, because the call to mobilize the civilian boats wasn't the first call that went out to stop the spread of socialism: each soldier on that beach, in some way, answered that first call when Poland was invaded, and then others answered the call to support them, and then, after the events of Dunkirk, more would continue to answer the constant calls for heroism that would be required, day and night, for years, to hold the line and to never surrender,.... That they didn't surrender on that day, meant they would not surrender ever.
THAT has shaped our world, even to today.
Surrendering is not acceptable.
Visually, this scene illustrates an existential thesis Nolan has about humanity, which I have all ready discussed in the Ineffability post. On another level, the suicide we watch in this scene is exactly what the Germans wanted the British army to do: self-destruct. When we self-destruct, we loose our identity. We don't know who this man is, what was the final, crushing blow of despair that caused him to cross the threshold of despair and become one with the faceless sea rather than be home again. Everything fights against us in our lives, like the propaganda sheet (bottom image) illustrating how surrounded the British forces are; the enemy says, at the bottom of the sheet, "SURRENDER = SURVIVE!" but we see the man in the images above surrendering to despair, and that surrendering is death, in more ways than one. He is faceless, he is nameless, and we know nothing of him but that he surrendered
The socialists in Germany should have wiped Britain out. They should have been able to invade England and they should have been able to conquer her, but they didn't accomplish any of their plan, and the massive defeat of England's survival meant that socialism couldn't spread any further, (socialists know that as long as one country remains capitalist and democratic, that will always be a threat to socialist countries because their enslaved people will be reminded of what freedom was like, and they will always prefer the freedom-with-risks of capitalism to slavery-and-security of socialism) like future wars in North Korea and Vietnam would accomplish: socialism was held back and keeping a cancer from spreading its malignant infection to healthy parts of the body started there, on the beach at Dunkirk, the "church in the sand" (Ineffability: Dunkirk & Visual Philosophy explores how Nolan uses his imagery to communicate that-which-cannot-be-communicated).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dunkirk Was Excellent!

It was beautiful, it was moving, it was deep and it was the perfect IMAX experience! Please, IF YOU CAN, see it in IMAX. That's what Nolan wanted, and you will be rewarded. Just a note before you go: it's not a linear timeline--surprise!--there are flashbacks and interweaving experiences, one scene is at night, then you jump to the next scene taking place during the day,... it's got it's purpose, so bear with it, that is how Nolan wants to tell us these stories. The acting, of course, was superb, and I mean top-notch, best-in-class, all around the cast, everyone was perfectly cast and filled their roles to perfection. I think I was holding my breath through the whole film. I am actually almost done with the post, but there are spoilers in it, so, please, see the film before you read my post, as always, and this earlier post I did, Ineffability: Dunkirk & Visual Philosophy was correct, there is nothing that needs amending in that, you might want to read it before seeing the film to help draw your attention to certain features. Lastly, my post on The Shape Of Water was posted at like 4 am and I forgot to include some important notes on who the creature is and why, but that has been corrected; so sorry, 4 am tends to make me a bit groggy, but I am so happy that Nolan's film exceeds my expectations, oh, happy day!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, July 21, 2017

TRAILER: The Shape Of Water

PLEASE WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW FIRST AND THEN COME BACK AND READ THIS CAPTION, because it's not going to make sense unless you know what the film is about. Who is the mute woman Eliza in the film? She is Eliza Doolittle from the 1964 George Cukor classic My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.  In the film, Eliza (hepburn) is a poor flower girl, and she has an obnoxious accent and exceedingly poor grammar; she goes to Professor Higgins (Harrison) for lessons so she can speak properly and attain better employment for herself; in the process, she and Higgins fall in love and Eliza advances in society and Higgins advances in the realm of human emotions. In The Shape Of Water, we can see how del Toro has divided Harrison's character of Higgins into two different characters to examine Higgins' own duel motivations for helping Eliza in My Fair Lady: Higgins is both the "professor" character who we hear speaking at the very start of the trailer (I believe he's portrayed by Nick Searcy, but I might be wrong about that, his character isn't listed on the IMDB casting for The Shape Of Water), and see again later as he translates Eliza's sign language, and then Higgins' is also Strickland (Michael Shannon) the one who is a scientist and doesn't believe in what really makes us human. So, in the opening lines of the film, we hear the words describing Eliza as "the princess without voice," and that refers to Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when her big debut is at a fancy ball and, because her speech has become so impeccable, she is mistaken for a princess, but in a way, it's not Eliza Doolittle's voice, it's Higgins' voice he has given her. The big question is, then: why does del Toro want to draw people's attention to the film My Fair Lady and the events of 1963, when the film takes place? Because in American politics today, feminists claim that men have taken away the voice of women, that men have silenced women and held them back from advancing in society. As a woman myself, I know nothing could be further from the truth: every single man in my life, from ALL of my male professors, to the men in my family and social circles, have wanted nothing but my total success and complete happiness; if anyone was holding me back, it was my very own self. I will stand by that until the day that I die. Anyway, we have Eliza, the woman literally, with no voice, but she's not just a woman, she is a princess; why? Because of the inherent dignity of women with which God created us. In the trailer, we see Strickland telling Eliza, "The Lord created us in His image. You don't think the Lord looks like that, do you?" but the physical appearance of humans isn't what is being discussed, rather, the image of God within our souls and our capacity to love and to sacrifice for love, that is the image of God in which we were created. Without someone to love, we are, just like Eliza, a little cleaning woman, with no voice. But when we have that "other," our dignity becomes complete.
(UPDATED: If you are wondering about the beautiful French song in the trailer, it's La Javanaise by jazz and blues singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux and it is available on iTunes.  I originally posted this at 4 am and forgot some points about the creature, so it's complete now, sorry!) If a film maker wanted to use just three words to get me to be interested in a film, all they would have to say is, "Guillermo del Toro," and I would be hooked: Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim and his invaluable contributions to The Hobbit trilogy are some of the reasons I am smitten with anything del Toro chooses to dedicate his energy and creativity to. In other words, I don't doubt him, and this trailer for his latest creation certainly is worthy of his formidable intellectual powers.
Oh, Guillermo, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways,....
Water, shall be first.
There are three manifestations of water as a symbol (along with the moon and dogs, water is one of the most complicated and organic of all symbols, and I mean "complicated," why? Because it's essential for life: of all the different cultures through history who have existed, all of them have depended upon water for survival, therefore, water itself can be about survival, and each artist infuses their ideas of what is necessary for life into their symbolism of what water means, or, if you will, what the "shape of water" is; but here are some simplified paths for us to take): water takes on many forms, complicating its identity even further (liquid, vapor [fog or clouds] and solid) but first is the liquid form.
If this isn't a magical image, I don't know what is. Let's just start by listing the symbols: water, sleeping, the lamp and the light shining upon her, the color blue, the color green, the books on the shelf and the doorway through which we pass. And those are just the ones I am seeing off the top of my head. Okay, the water, we know, is the state of reflection, but there is more to this reflection, because we are beneath the surface of the water, so this is "deep reflection," but that's not all, folks: there is the light. There is the light from the lamp (a man-made light source) and then there is the light coming down upon her from above, like it's divine light. Thirdly, there is the "studied light" of the developed intellect symbolized by the books on the shelf in the background. What does light symbolize? Illumination. That three types of light are present (the divine and man-made) suggests that Eliza has a natural intelligence to her and because she makes the most of her natural intelligence by studying and advancing her intellect, she has been rewarded with extra Light from above, she has a spiritual insight into her self and others. Eliza sleeps; why? She has not yet been awakened to fulfill her calling in life. As Napoleon said, "Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains," and that mountain Eliza will move is the mountain of sin symbolized by Strickland. But this time of sleep is essential for Eliza's formation; why? So that when her moment comes, she will know it. That's why we pass through the door, the door in Eliza's world is opening to opportunity and the purpose for which she was created. That's why we see so much blue in the image: blue is the color of sadness and wisdom, so Eliza has learned painful lessons through her life of silence, her life of contemplation, but the green that is there is for her hope, that something will happen, something will change. What is going to happen? The bed symbolizes death, because a bed is the forerunner of our coffin, where we "sleep" after life, awaiting the Final Judgement. So, (and this is very common) sleeping and death are the state of souls until they come into their purpose, their calling; "Be still and know that I am the Lord," God said in Psalms 46:10, because it's only when we are not busy with our life and our world that we can be still and come to understand that HE is God. And we will not be called into our purpose until we have learned that lesson. 
When water is water,  it relates that the character(s) is in the first stage of reflection, like Narcissus, because you see only what is on the surface; when water becomes vaporized, it demonstrates that the character is trying to see deeper within themselves, but they are having a difficult time discerning, things are blurry (it's hard to see in the fog, or with your head in the clouds) so either the character hides something from themselves (a truth they don't want to face) or the character hasn't come to a full understanding of what has happened or will happen, leading to the third stage of contemplation and snow.
The feet. Shoes. These are important symbols for characters, as we well know, dear reader. What is a part of Eliza's everyday routine? Polishing and brushing her shoes, slipping into her shoes, and walking to work. Our feet symbolize our will, because our feet take us where we want to go the way our will directs our lives to where we want to go and to get what we want. So, in the image at the top, we see Eliza brushing her shoe with a green brush; green, we know, is either the color of hope, as in spring and rebirth and new life, or it's the color of something that has gone rotten, like the moldy green stuff growing in forgotten recycled plastic butter containers in your fridge that you used for leftovers. With Eliza, we know it's hope (her sweater is also a dark green color, the headband in her hair and the coat she wears to work, are all green, because she is the symbol of someone who lives in hope) so each day she gives herself hope, and it's in the light of hope that Eliza walks, even though her shoes are rather plain, they are heels, i.e., shoes that women wear, so it's a particularly feminine hope that she has, something that will effect her as a woman (not specifically as an American, or a Christian or atheist, or as a member of the communist party, etc., but as a woman).
On a slightly different note, but still on the same topic, the way the trailer sets up Eliza's life, from 0:15-0:30 (when the creature's hand meets her hand on the glass of the containment unit) is that of redundancy: Eliza goes through the same motions day, after day, after day, after day,.... that's redundancy, and it's a specific theory,... why? Because there is no "information" in redundancy, we don't learn anything new, there's nothing breaking the mold of our expectations; in other words, Eliza's life is exactly the way we would expect it to be, and this is an important tool for artists, because it's by the vocabulary of the "redundant" that we see the problem with our own lives: because of the needs we have for our survival (not because we live in the modern world) our lives inevitably become redundant, and that's not what God intended for us: "I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" Jesus tells us (John 10:10). Even though we will be allowed to have the redundant, so we know in humility what we are without God, God wants to give us more than the mere survival to which we are accustomed because only He can give it to us, only He knows what the desires of your heart are, because He is the one who put them there, to fulfill and multiply at the right time. A good illustration is the parting of the Red Sea: when God delivered Israel, he led them from the land of slavery, through the waters of salvation, by doing that which only God could do, and in your own life, that has happened, or it will happen. Now we are ready to discuss the bottom image.
In the bottom scene, it appears that she and the creature kiss beneath the water, with that beautiful light streaming down upon them, Eliza in a red coat and a special light around her feet,... almost like there is a halo around her feet, and one of the shoes coming off,... we haven't yet discussed who the creature is, but we will in the next caption, but suffice to say, this is what Eliza was created for; how can we tell? She's in "deep water," she's beneath the surface, so there is a union that is "baptized" (I know, the "guy" is a "creature" but trust me just for a moment longer, it will all make sense) and so, we can even venture to say that this union is happening on the level of the soul, because there is the deep water and the light shining upon them, with the emphasis upon her will (the feet). Obviously, a shoe has just dropped from her feet, and this validates the sacramental nature of the moment we see, because where else have we seen in the Bible someone wearing only one shoe where they were? Joshua right before the fall of Jericho, when the angel comes announcing he is commander of the Lord's host (because some think it's awkward, many modern translators say that Joshua was commanded to take off both sandals, but my Hebrew Old Testament professor made a big deal that it was only one shoe Joshua had to take off, whereas Moses had to take off both shoes; so was the ground on which Moses stood holier than the ground upon which Joshua stood? No, but the Lord wanted to completely unite Moses' will to His own Will, whereas with Joshua, the Lord wanted Joshua to keep his own will, because the Lord knew Joshua--just as Moses--was a precursor to Christ, and that would be separately established; we could go on, but we won't at this time). So, Joshua, takes off one shoe to show he's standing in a holy place, just before a battle, and that he's in the presence of the Lord, and that he still retains some of his own will (he has one shoe on, and our feet symbolize our will), but there is also the Will of God at work (the removed shoe signifying the holy ground). This kiss is "the breath of life," the means by which God imparts to us the Holy Spirit and Life itself (God blew onto Adam from God's own mouth to instill life in him, and a bride and groom kiss at their wedding to breathe new life into each other), and this kiss will prepare Eliza for the battle she is about to wage against Strickland for the life of the creature.
In its solid form, water-as-snow symbolizes the thoughts-as-tangible-expression and now is the time for healing. A character has worked their way through the stages of contemplation, and have come to the full realization of what they were supposed to discover and now, having discovered whatever it was, they can heal, just as the land heals during winter from the summer harvests and crops, and the snow covering the ground protects the resting soil and landscape (and then the process begins again with another topic for discovery); so, where does that put Eliza in The Shape Of Water?
In deep water.
Hands symbolize our honor, because it's when we want to give our word to someone that we "shake hands" on it, so our hands are a sign of our genuineness, our sincerity. In the top image, it's with her hand that Eliza touches the glass (symbol of reflection) and looks into the water (another symbol of reflection, and this water has a definite green tint to it, a sign of hope), and then the creature's hand comes up to "meet" her hand; why? He's recognizing her genuineness, that she is interested in him, not interested in the science experiment that the scientists are trying to turn him into. There is another image in the trailer, of Eliza looking through the bus window with rain drops, and tracing her fingers along the glass as the droplets magically flow to follow her motions: the glass and water drops both denote, again, reflection, and her hand doing the tracing on the glass is the sign that she is being genuine in her interest, not just curious. Now, look at the second image; Strickland has a bandage on his left hand. The "left" hand/arm is usually seen as a sign of evil (no, really, I'm not making this up for political expedience against Liberals, this is true, because most people in history have been right-handed) and Strickland has his hand bandaged, meaning, he has wounded his honor, he has wounded his ability to be sincere/genuine, in some degree; we certainly don't see him being nice. That's going to be an important detail in the film. In the bottom image, we see the Creature's bloody hand-print on the movie poster; the Creature has traded his appetite for love with Eliza (the color red) for an appetite for wrath and bloodshed. I don't know what has happened, but I'm pretty confident that Eliza will be the only one who can save him, in more ways than one.  
Remember all the learning and enlightenment symbols we see in Eliza's bedroom (enumerated in the caption about her bedroom)? The light, the books, the lamp, her state of sleeping to receive spiritual nourishment,....Wise, in a word, is how we can describe Eliza, and that is a reflection of  her soul, because it is within the heart that our wisdom is kept (as opposed to our head, where mere knowledge is kept) and it's within the soul that wisdom is manifested (as purity and strength, because that is what wisdom imparts). But the creature has to have a similar degree of wisdom to be capable of meeting Eliza in this depth of sacramental unity we see them in, and so this leads us to he overwhelming question:WHO IS THE CREATURE?
Just as the opening poster caption for this post illustrates how the film incorporates My Fair Lady, and Strickland (Shannon) and the Professor guy (probably Nick Searcy) are both versions of Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) so, too, are the Professor guy and Strickland both the creature we see in The Shape Of Water; why? It's a part of themselves they are both trying to drown because society has told them to do so.
It's quite simple, because all the films of the 1950s were saying the exact same thing, rather like all the horror-slasher films of the 1980s: if you aren't married, you shouldn't be having sex! Sex kills you because adultery kills your soul by feeding your animal appetites, and those animal appetites kill the soul. The Creature From the Black Lagoon is no exception. In the story, Dr. David Reed has a girlfriend, Kay Lawrence; they are not married, but most likely having sexual relations; this means the Creature is a psychoanalytic double for Reed ("reed" being a phallic symbol and the invocation of "David" is that of "King David," who had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba) and that is why Reed has to kill the Creature: Reed has to overcome his own animal appetites for Kay in order to love her properly, because Kay--like Eliza in The Shape Of Water--is a princess, the daughter of God, and Reed is called to be the son of God, not some serpentine creature turning a princess into a whore.
So, if the creature is a white man in The Shape Of Water, why resort to an old film no one has seen, where the same creature is the villain? That's an excellent question. We know that in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, there is a sexual relationship between David Reed and Kay Lawrence, and the creature symbolizes that and what using Kay for sex has done to David; today, however, liberals want men to have sex only with other men and women to have sex only with other women, in other words, everyone to be gay. David Reed, in his form as the creature, illustrates his reptilian qualities, i.e., the state of his soul in Original Sin (his soul without God's Grace), and what Grace there is within his soul is being eroded by the complicity to commit mortal sin; in other words, as David Reed willingly separates his soul from the Face of God, David's own face becomes separated from God and the beauty that God is, leading David to look like a deformed monster, i.e., the creature. Now, in The Shape Of Water, del Toro appears to be arguing that all men have degenerated in this day and age to becoming the creature we see David Reed as in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, because of the success of socialism and communism to take over the world by destabilizing religion and morality (The Shape Of Water takes place in 1963, the height of the Cold War, and at about the same time that The Man From UNCLE takes place, so the socialism we will see in the film isn't about the Cold War in the 1960s, rather, about the "cold war" taking place in America today). Even though men have become these reptilian creatures, they kind of always have been, which is why God created woman, to be the bearer of "new life" for men, which is why we see Eliza giving the creature an egg, and teaching him how to say "Egg," because eggs symbolize new life, and in particular, women, because it's a female fertility symbol, so even though we might think of Eliza as being barren, or her world as being barren, she has all these eggs that she can give to the creature because she has been through so much spiritual training. And that's what the creature needs, and that's what men today need, women who are generous and full of life; while most men are going to be like the creature today, few women will be like Eliza and spiritually prepared and capable of fulfilling her purpose of being the "help mate" of man (helping him get to heaven) and therefore, having her own needs for love and purpose fulfilled as well (the role a man plays in loving and protecting a woman).  
Man.
Specifically, a white man.
At 2:02 in the trailer, very briefly, we see the Creature in the movie theater, standing and watching a film, which is most likely about killing him/his kind; why? Because hasn't that been what every pro-socialist film has been about lately? Wonder Woman, The Magnificent Seven, Logan, Pirates Of the Caribbean 5, Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol 2, etc., have all killed the white male leads because they are white, heterosexual males who are the power-holders in American society and have supposedly "oppressed" everyone else so that no one else could achieve anything, and this "creature" we see is the only one who can make Eliza happy; why? Love. It's with those same men that women still fall in love, still find a common language that we can share with each other, enjoy the same music together, share a little meal, and see one another the way God created us--with dignity and in His image for the capacity to love and sacrifice for that love--rather than how the world (i.e., liberals) tells us how to see each other and ourselves. This is the most old-fashioned kind of love story there is, a boy and a girl, who are outcasts until they find each other and love the other for what they are; only a man can give this to a woman and only a woman can give this to a man, because that is how "being complete" works.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, July 17, 2017

TRAILERS: Blade Runner 2049, Wind River, The Emoji Movie

UPDATED: Reviews of Nolan's Dunkirk are coming in, and they are all quite positive; this review, from Variety, hails the achievement as a "masterpiece," and I'm sure I will be quick to second that. The big news in the film world today is two-fold: George Romero, the "father" of zombie films has passed away. Night Of the Living Dead is truly a masterpiece for being a "extra-textual Gospel" as to why Christians need to be faithful to the tenants of our Faith (please see My Favorite Zombie: Night Of the Living Dead for more). Secondly, one of the longest running debates in film criticism might be answered with the newest trailer for Blade Runner 2049:
In Ridley Scott's original Blade Runner (1982), Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard was a blade runner, a cop who hunted replicants (non-humans who appeared to be human); at the end of the film, he was left with the question of whether or not he, too, was a replicant. When Deckard says, "We were being hunted," in the trailer above, critics latched onto that and cautiously debated whether or not this is the answer to the question posed at the end of the film. I emphasize cautiously because we all realize this line is being taken out of context of the rest of the film, and that the film makers of Blade Runner 2049 know we want to know if Deckard is, in fact, a replicant. The "we" Deckard uses in the line in the trailer above might not mean "we" replicants, rather, "we" as in, Rachel (Sean Young) and myself, Rick Deckard, regardless of whether Deckard is replicant or human.
If seeing Jeremy Renner wearing this Arctic camo gear flashes you back to The Bourne Legacy, that's probably not a coincidence, rather, intentional. When film makers set up a situation to inspire the audience to remember a film they have all ready seen, it's because the film makers saw it, too, and they want you to recall that event or character because they want to bridge their own film to the film they invoke in your mind; of course, we won't know why until we actually see Wind River, however, it will be interesting to see why they wanted to bring in The Bourne Legacy
I really want to like this next trailer, Wind River: Jeremy Renner is a fantastic actor, maybe one of the best in Hollywood today, and it's certainly admirable the way he has worked his way up and the craftsmanship of his skills. Here is the second trailer:
On the one hand, they are in Wyoming, "the land where you are on your own," and on the other, they are on an Indian Reservation where they are completely supported by the government (so capitalism and self-sufficiency in Wyoming, but socialism and government control in the Reservation). The young girl, we know, symbolizes the future of the Indian people because she's young enough to still be "a teenager," (a symbol of the future) but capable of giving birth, so she's also the motherland. We see her wearing a blue coat, so she's depressed and experienced with the trials and burdens of life. We know that snow--which plays such a dominant role in the landscape--symbolizes reflections and meditations which have been finalized and made tangible, so whatever her sad state in life caused her to think about (maybe that there was no future) she died with that thought (the snow) but her death was self-willed (running bare-foot in the snow). "Out here, you survive, or you surrender." Well, the girl who is murdered is going to present us with an interesting narrative, and I'm looking forward to seeing it. What I have decided I am not looking forward to is the latest Star Wars film; I just think it's going to be really liberal. We don't have a new trailer, but for ComicCon, they have, so far, released this footage:
Have we talked about The Emoji Movie? 😧 Well, I pretty confident this is a total liberal-brainwashing job 😷, but it is pretty funny to see Sir Patrick Stewart voicing the Pile of Poo:
It's good that Gene (Meh) wants to take responsibility for his mistake, however, he wants to have more than one emotion and he's going to the Source Code to change his situation, i.e, that's like someone being upset that God (the Source Code) created them to be just a man or just a woman,... why can't I be a man and a woman and a goat, if I want to? I want to like this film but I think it's going to be,.... yep, you guessed it,.... 💩
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--I'm trying to get The Mummy post finished and up, finally, so sorry!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Creator Update

You are absolutely correct, dear reader, it is not a coincidence at all that The Darkest Hour, Their Finest Hour and Dunkirk are all being released this year: the fine artists and film makers in the UK have realized their is a socialist invasion of their great motherland, and so they are summoning the forces that destroyed socialism the first time, in hopes they can destroy socialism again. It's not just a matter of "That so many gave so much," that we owe it to them not to go for socialism, or that "This was our defining moment"  when we beat back the inevitable invasion of Germany and when we turned our backs to socialism and tyranny and, determined, knew we would never succumb to such a form of slavery,.... sure, it is those things, but the subject matter and its mode of presentation suggests something more like this: socialism is a rotten and corrupt seed, from which nothing good can come, and the courage and sacrifice of the great people of this blessed homeland were born of freedom and the trials of life; we are human beings, bound with tremendous dignity, not animals, and not dependents. We stand on our own two feet,... we stand, and we fight.
Actually, "Creator Update" isn't about God, nor myself--as the "creator" of this blog; unfortunately, the imbeciles at Microsoft decided that it had been awhile since they caused personal computers to commit suicide en masse, like beached whales, so they have been forcing people to accept the Creator Update that does a ton of stuff you don't need; you can't opt out of it. Anyway, I had to take the update and then, like so many others around the world (that is, of those who have been forced to upgrade to the dreaded Windows 10) I, too, lost internet connectivity completely and had no other option other than to wipe everything (I did an incomplete wipe, but that wasn't enough to get it working again) and start over reloading it all.
I am so angry.
Yea, so, three days later, I think I have it 95% restored,... but now, it wants me to install it again. So, if you face a similar apocalypse in your life, I have learned that you can at least delay--but not opt out entirely--by changing your connection in Settings from WiFi to metered, the theory being that Microsoft is not going to make you take an upgrade if you are paying a lot for your connection (metered) but it might finally go ahead and do it anyway. So, plenty of people with far worse consequences to the update have more bitter stories to tell than do I, if you are stuck with updating, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING BACKED-UP, a last will and testament written, and some kind of stress medicine on hand,... like whiskey.
A new bottle of whiskey.
Okay, speaking of whiskey, let's talk about the incredible greatness of Sir Winston Churchill, with this first trailer for The Darkest Hour:
Why dwell on the vices of a character who is supposed to be the hero? Because he had vices, he had faults, he lost, he had made some terrible mistakes during his career, and it's precisely because he had faults and wasn't perfect, because he had made mistakes (from which he had learned painful and costly lessons) and because he himself had faced death and stood the test, that he was perfected to become the man who would stand between Hitler and the rest of the world. We will discuss this more later, but for now, let's take a look at two other anti-socialist films being served up to us. This next one comes from Tommy Wirkola who did Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters (with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, and, at long last, Hansel and Gretel 2 has been announced and is in the works!), so just see how he's setting this up:
Each of the sisters has their own identity, no? Each day of the week, also, has its own identity, no? Even that dreaded of all days, Mondays, but without Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays probably wouldn't be so awesome, but isn't that what socialists claim they want to do, is to get rid of "Mondays?" get rid of the things about work that no one likes (they can't do that, but they are happy to tell anyone dumb enough to believe them they will do that)? I think that's going to be a good one. Next, remember that Julia Roberts and Keifer Sutherland drama? No, I don't mean that time-they-almost-got-married-drama, I mean that film, Flatliners? The sequel has finally come out, and looks pretty awesome:
"Sequel" meaning that it's Kieffer Sutherland who will be reprising his role as Nelson somewhere in Flatliners. So, what do we have? Well, kind of like someone taking Mondays away, someone's now taking death away, and taking the death of someone else. Do you remember me rambling on about death and how no one can die your death for you, it's something that belongs to you and to a particular moment in your life and it's yours,... you don't? Maybe I forgot to, well, there's the spiel I was going to give you, but this is a means of looking at socialism,.... take the things we hate the most, like Mondays and death, and demonstrate how there really is a natural order to existence, and following that natural order brings a good dose and share of happiness to all, not all of the time, but that's not really possible, or even desirable. Last, but not least, we have a film about the artist Alberto Giacometti, one of my personal favorites; I don't know how the film will be, but I do so love me some Giacometti!
So, the moral of the story is, that even though it totally sucks when your computer crashes, and you have to spend your weekend doing other than what you had hoped to do, it's still better to have a computer at all, and to have a weekend at all, and to be able to make plans at all, even if sometimes they don't work out the way you wanted, because all this means that there is still hope, and there is yet another tomorrow when things will work out.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
On the left is an etching of Giacometti by Jan Hladik, and on the right is the most famous photograph of Giacometti, while he was installing his art for an exhibition, taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Giacometti was known for sculptures (not painting or sketching), and he usually did figures like the two extremely tall and thin figures you see in the image above. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ineffability: Dunkirk & Visual Philosophy (2017 Film)

I want to make it perfectly clear that I will always go to bat for Christopher Nolan; why? He's earned it. I'm relaying this to you so you know my prejudices, and you know that I know I have them. This appears to be a simple poster; almost insultingly simple, even. Within its simplicity, however, we can find everything we need. Let's start with the obvious. We know that black, the dominant color of the poster, symbolizes death, there is the "bad death," being alive to things of this world and dead to things of the spiritual world, and then there is "good death," being alive to the things of the next world, the spirit, and being dead to the appetites in this world, materialism and those things that will perish. Next, is the color blue as being dominant. Blue is an exceptional symbol because it always "embodies" both its "negative"side and its "positive" side simultaneously: blue symbolizes sadness, suffering, sorrow and heartache, but it also symbolizes wisdom, because wisdom is the greatest of all human treasures, not just because it costs us the most to attain (no amount of silver or gold can purchase wisdom, only hardships) but also because, the wiser we become, the closer to God we become. If we depend upon Him in those same trials, we are rewarded in that He makes us to be more like Himself, which is what He always wanted for us. So, there is both wisdom, suffering. Then, we realize, it's not just the lettering that's blue, rather, it's an image of the beach and the sea where the action takes place, so we have the visual intersecting the verbal (the word DUNKIRK), meaning, that which took place there at a certain time, gave this place a new meaning. Originally, "Dunkirk" means "church in the dunes," and I am confident we will see this played out on multiple levels.
Permit me to seemingly go off topic for a moment. In Heidegger's concept of existence, each person occupies a certain place at a specific time. I am who I am because I am sitting at my desk, at this exact moment, typing these words, and no one else can claim that they are me, because I am the one carrying out this action at this specific marker in history (it's like the latitude and longitude of a globe, but with a place and a time).  This is what is going to happen with Dunkirk, the area in Northern France: it's no longer going to be just the "church in the dunes," rather, it's also going to become synonymous with the events that happened there, at that specific beach, at that specific time. So, too, will those men and women who were there, the "meaning" of the events, the evacuations, the heroism, the deeds, the deaths, the odds and the fear all coming to mean something different to each of them who experienced it first hand, but also contributing a shared meaning of the events taking place there on the beaches of Dunkirk that we, too, in the audience will share with them.
So, what does the poster say to us?
There is death, but from death, comes life far greater, richer and more abundant than what we can possibly imagine. 
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, about the evacuation of British soldiers during World War II, opens July 21 and reviews have started coming in: it's visually stunning, but the characters aren't developed. Such "lazy" reviews exhibit the perfect reason as to why you and I work so tirelessly to understand and decode art: NO ONE BELIEVES IN HUMANITY LIKE NOLAN DOES, and we know that because of ineffability, the prime character in every Nolan film, who has taken on a greater and more definite role in each work, because of Nolan's own confidence and continuously increasing skills. Nolan knows that which cannot be said can still be communicated, and he does. Please watch the first trailer released for the film:
"Why waste precious tanks when they can pick us off from the air like fish in a barrel?" This statement is the film's thesis announcing what it's about: the "precious tanks" vs "fish in a barrel," and how the enemy has dehumanized the British soldiers and that, ultimately, is their mistake and why the men were able to be evacuated: the human soul is not less precious than the tanks, and the men on the beach are not cheap like "fish in a barrel." This causal reference might be referencing two specific films: Emperor, with Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones, about the role of the Japanese Emperor in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug, when our heroes were hidden in barrels filled with fish so the could get to the mountain. At the end of Emperor, one of the Japanese generals tells Fox's character that Japan lost their humanity during the war, because of the horrible war crimes they committed; in other words, in dehumanizing their enemy (the Americans) they only dehumanized themselves. In The Hobbit, the brave heroes who have been through so much, are buried in the foul smelling fish, and humbled, but it's their quest which ultimately brings together and unites the dwarfs, elves and men to fight off and against the orcs and Sauron. In both films, we see the individual choices of the characters having an effect on events far greater than themselves, and all working towards a greater good, which I am confident we shall see in Dunkirk as well.
The first image we see is of the Warner Bros. logo fading backwards into fog (first image); later in the trailer (second image down), we see this soldier on the beach, unloading himself of his gear, and going into the water to drown, fading into death; we see the words HOPE IS A WEAPON emerge from the fog (third image), along with the words SURVIVAL IS VICTORY. What these images have in common is the visual philosophy of existence: we either emerge from suffering victoriously, or we give into suffering and fade into oblivion. Just as the troops are surrounded by the enemy forces (bottom image) so you, and I, are too, every moment of our lives, and if we aren't battling the the enemy (Satan) actively, if we aren't emerging from the battlefield triumphantly (or at least putting up the best fight that we can) then we fade into nothingness. Throughout the film, we will be seeing images like these: a vast expanse and just one, maybe two people there, or, we may be shown the exact opposite: a crowded beach loaded with 400,000 troops, and we are just one of them, but each has the same individuality as we ourselves; there is no such thing as an "unimportant life." There is also no such thing as an unimportant moment of life: of course, there are moments that are really important, but there are all the little moments that lead up to the big ones, because our character, our philosophy of how to approach life and suffering, is defined by the little moments, the moments of either giving your all to fulfill your destiny (the soul's total capacity of virtue) or if you have slacked off and just took the easy way out, did the simple thing and compromised your way through life, like the soldier going to drown himself out at sea (second image). What that soldier really means is, every single man on the beach fights the same battle he is fighting, the temptation to drown themselves in despair, so they have to fight the despair with hope, but so, too, do you and I, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
It's difficult to see, but if you look at the bottom of the propaganda paper showing the troops surrounded by the Germans, at the bottom, it says, "SURRENDER + SURVIVE!"  We have actually all ready seen something very similar to this in The Mummy when Princess Ahmanet tells Nick (Tom Cruise), "Just give in, just give in," and let me kill you, she tells him, but he doesn't, he fights her, and it's more difficult because throughout Nick's life, he's taking the easy, self-serving way out, he's surrendered to circumstances. "Surrender and survive" is the antithesis of Dunkirk, while "Fight to survive" is the thesis, because we are not called in this life "just to survive," we are called to be victorious, but there is no victory without a fight.
The main reason I'm writing this post is because I am upset with a reviewer who snugly commented after seeing Dunkirk that it's a spectacular film, but there aren't any real characters in it, just like all of Nolan's films,... "characters" require "character," and if the writer of said review thinks Nolan's films don't have any real characters, that is because that reviewer himself has no personal character with which he can recognize the character of others. If heroism isn't a sign of character, what is? If fear isn't a sign of being alive and facing the terror of the abyss of death, what is a sign of being alive? If laying down your life so someone else can live isn't a sign of honor and love, then what is? I would like to suggest that, far from being devoid of characters, we will, instead, find the film filled with the ineffable, visually, and philosophically, but if one doesn't understand what it is, it's because they know there is nothing "ineffable" about their own self.
Mr.Dawson (Mark Rylance, top image) provides us with an example of courage we can all recognize, but how? How can we articulate what exactly Dawson's doing as heroic? "The call's gone out," he says,... a "call" isn't just a ring on the phone, it has important spiritual connotations: we are "called" to do something great in this life by God Himself, even if that "great" doesn't seem "great" to us. In Dawson's case, he is being called to put his life and the property of his boat on the line to save others (and if either or both of those boys with him are his sons, then they also are being possibly sacrificed). This is the measure of heroism, to do that which needs to be done for a greater good than one's self, and with no reward but knowing you did it and did it as well as you could. The great Cillian Murphy, whose character is officially titled "Shivering Soldier," (picture number 3) has a cut across his nose and another one below his eye; why? He doesn't want to go back to Dunkirk as Dawson tells him they are going to do, and the Shivering Soldier's fear of death has shown that his character is flawed: our face is the seat of our identity, and the nose is the most prominent feature of our face, so it symbolizes our character, which is also the most prominent feature of our (intangible) being. To have a cut or mark could just mean that Shivering Soldier has "lost face," he has not shown himself to be honorable, but it's more serious than that, he's shown that his character is flawed because he puts himself before others. George (second picture down) gives the perfect response when Dawson tells him they are going into war: George doesn't say, "I'm dying to see some action and excitement!" "I'm thrilled at killing some Germans!" "I want to prove myself!" He doesn't say any of these things, he says, "I'll be useful." That's not only humble, it's courageous. An interesting symbol is introduced at 0:48: the umbilical cord. George has the line of rope in his hand, but instead of throwing the rope onto the boat and staying behind, George holds onto the rope and boards the boat. The umbilical cord rarely shows up, but when it does, it's always a powerful instrument in the hands of the right director. George leaves behind the "motherland" and the safety of the deck to gain a new identity, to be born as an individual who is going to the aide of others, so in facing war and possible death, George is being born, and the rope acting as a "life line" between the land of England and the boat setting out to face the enemy, is the womb of a new birth for George, as it is for all the characters.
In the bottom image, we see Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branaugh) with his hat off (I'll talk about that red circle in just a moment). We know that our head symbolizes our thoughts because that's where our thoughts originate, so anything on our head or pertaining to our head (like hair) can tell us what a character is thinking or how they are internally responding to something even though they might not say anything. We have seen Bolton wearing his hat in nearly all the clips of him, meaning that he likes to keep his thoughts and emotions "under his hat," he doesn't share what he's thinking with others, readily, anyway. In the clip above, I don't know what is happening, but it's made him take his hat off, meaning, there is going to be a show of emotion when this happens, something has unsettled him, and removing his hat might be the only way to understand what his character is going through. Now, I circled a ship, in the far, far distant background of that image (just off his right bicep) because that's an example of Nolan using his spatial vocabulary to emphasize isolation and the building of character: that might be an enemy ship, or it might be part of the British Navy, but we can see the incredible distance between Bolton and the ship, because that's a distance Bolton feels interiorly and is being shown to us by Nolan: "You can almost see it from here." "What?" "Home." Bolton might be able to almost see home, but he knows there are 400,000 men between him and that home. 
As Christians, we believe we are mortal, however, because we are also created in the image of God, and by God's blessing, we are kings and queens, co-heirs of the kingdom of God and of His own Life, i.e., we have God within us. Not only are we a temple for God, but we, too, are God in that He desires to share His Love for us with us; the more we unite our will to His, the more God can dwell within our souls this side of heaven. What all this means is, we believe that, in spite of being human, there is, essentially, no limit to our soul, there is no limit to our humanity which God cannot decide to heal or strengthen, enlighten or enhance; we are limitless because of God's Love.
I am guessing that these two visual extremes are going to be the bulk of the vehicle of Nolan's ineffable expression, because they do the job so well. In the top two images, we see the crowd, the "fish in a barrel," the all of us and who am I in all of this, the "face in a crowd" (as we see in the second image down, the extreme front and center, the one young man looking up when no one else is). So there will be "crowd shots" where we can't tell anyone from anyone else. No one stands out in a crowd, everyone looks the same (especially in uniform), there is no individuality, except that individuality which has been achieved over that person's lifetime within their self. Then there are the incredible realities that bombs are being dropped; why should the soldier next to you be killed, but not you? How do you even begin to explain that? This is the moment when our lives intersect with the purpose and will of Our Creator, who does not become our destroyer when we face death, rather, like George grabbing the umbilical cord of the boat taking him to war, so these moments are, too, meant to give birth to faith. To hope. To resolve and abandonment. These are the most intensive moments of our existence, because they are the moments that no one else can live for us, they belong to us and to us alone. This is why we will have shots like the two on the bottom: a solitary figure in a massive landscape, the very stuff of the awesome and sublime. Just as the one solitary figure stands out on the beach (image number three) or the one airplane that has been hit and is going down into the water (image number four) so that is what's happening within those characters, there is no one else, there is nothing else, except what that person has stored up for themselves from their past actions to fortify their souls in moments just like this. In another way, we can even see the broad expanses of landscape being a kind of metaphor of the broad outlines of history which generally describe for us the events such as these, where solitary individuals stood out and against the anonymous background of history to literally change the tide: that one fighter pilot who heroically save a friend, but goes down himself, that father and shopkeeper who hears the alarm and answers with his life to bring home the sons and fathers, brothers and husbands of people he doesn't know and never will,.... Such moments are too great for us to understand, but we can understand that they exist, and we exist within them. 
Those who do not believe in God, believe that we are limited by humanity, and that it is exceedingly limited indeed; having such a small and narrow understanding of hearts and souls, it's because they themselves have not yet been tested and pushed to embrace God standing just at their limitations, that is, the intersection of the effabile and God's ineffability (we can be described, God cannot). The events we will see in Dunkirk are those very ones that will dramatize the expansion of the soul, and make us see that which we cannot put into words, we can only approach in wonder. (UPDATED: reviews for Dunkirk have started coming in; this one, from Variety, hails the film as a "masterpiece," and I'm sure I will be quick to second that).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Here is the second trailer released for Dunkirk: