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9.7 14 10
(Updated: October 19, 2020)
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I've watched Darkest hour and Dunkirk quite a few times over the last couple of years. While I do enjoy the acting and the fimlatography of both movies, they certainly have their own styles, which are not for everyone. Despite their accolates from film festivals etc.

Darkest hour come through to me as a slow paced reflection over what is indeed one of the darkest hours in Britains history, when everything was oh-so-close to the very end; To defeat at the hands of Hitler's German forces. The desctrution of the army, and eventually, the country. It starts at the very last part of the descent, right before British fortunes in the war hits rock bottom, and shows the beginning of the turn around, fueled by the peoples will to fight and the leaders (Churchill in particular) who take it uppon themselves to carry out that will, even at the risk to their positions, in Churchills case as prime minister. As well as arguably Churchills greatest achievement in the war: Rescuing the army through a most unusual maritime evacuation.

Dunkirk comes through as a mix of a modern-style war movie (focused on realistic dipiction of the chaos and despair of war), and almost an art movie. It's pacing is, if possible, even slower and it's narrative hazier and less eventful, with short flurries of high tension, and long periods of waiting with a clear undertone of despair and desparation: In a way reflecting the experience of the soldiers waiting to be rescued, and their many moments of fear and dispair at the thought they may not make it home.

When I saw El Dusto and Maple films had made an edit combining the two I thought it would make an excellent opportunity to incorporate the best of both movies, while reshaping the narative to be more swift and focused. An oportunity to tell the two stories together in a more convention movie structure, with a stronger pacing. In my mind to create a more emotional and powerful movie experience. This, however, is not what the edit turned out to be. Instead it seems to try to preserve the narative structure and pacing of the original movies as much as possible. It does it so well that it's almost hard for me to pick out which parts were removed.

The is espceially true for Dunkirk. I feel much of what was removed, like the subplot that one of the two privates we follow throughout the movie is in fact a Frenchman masquerading as English in order to escape, is in no way essential to the plot what so ever and I didn't miss it at all. If anything I feel even more could probably have been cut. I find myself missing more some of the parts removed from the darkest hour however, especially the more refelctive scenes showing everyday life outside the parliament and circles of power. Inclduing Churchills ride in the subway. I feel these scenes added a sense of the world beyond, that is valuable. Especially on an emotional level. But I also understand how removing some of the slowest scenes in the movie can certainly be necessary, especially considering how slow paced Dunkirk is on it's own. And some of the combining of scenes worked surprisingly well, in particular Churchill speaking to the outer cabinet cut to Churhill speaking to the war cabinet, and a the faster paced inter-cutting between the movies towards the end.

I wached to 9.3 GB 1080p .mp4 and the video and audio quality was excellent. I did pick out some compression artifacts in some of the very darkest scenes, in partciular when the king visits Churchill at home at night. But since they were only in the very darkest parts of the frame I doubt most people would ever even notice. Likewise the audio, in particular from Dunkirk, is a bit hazy at times even in the original movie and it is sometimes hard to hear the dialouge, and audio effects added towards the very end of the movie over Churchills speach in particular does make it a little harder to hear what is being said (and could probably have been toned down a little). That said, again I doubt most people would even notice.

Overall: This is not to my mind an ideal way to combine these movies and probably not my ideal version of either.
I will keep watching the original movies as they are. And will consider making my own cut combining them at some point.
But it is an enjoyable experience and is very well done, with excellent audio and video quality and very good craftsmanship in the editing overall. And as such I do recommend it.

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