Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” is being celebrated as one of the strongest movies of the year—and may perhaps rank among one of the best war movies ever made alongside “Saving Private Ryan,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” and “Black Hawk Down.” Like the other great films, it doesn’t glorify war, but instead emphasizes the tragedy of war. But because male critics are praising it, women’s magazine Marie Claire has seen fit to trash the film for “celebrating maleness”—asking instead why war movies aren’t being made for women.
Writing for Marie Claire, Mehera Bonner declared “Dunkirk” to be “basic.” “And look, it’s not like I need every movie to have ‘strong female leads.’ Wonder Woman can probably tide me over for at least a year and I understand that this was dominated by brave male soldiers. I get that,” she wrote, before slamming the film for its “general vibe.”
Despite enjoying the film’s intense moments and even the performances of its actors, including One Direction’s Harry Styles in his first big screen appearance, the Marie Claire writer slams Dunkirk for being “designed for men to man-out over.”
“The tenor of the people applauding it just screams ‘men-only’,” she continued, citing that the only reason male critics liked it was because it allowed them to feel manly.
Bonner continues: “To me, Dunkirk felt like an excuse for men to celebrate maleness—which apparently they don’t get to do enough. Fine, great, go forth, but if Nolan’s entire purpose is breaking the established war movie mold and doing something different—why not make a movie about women in World War II?” The Marie Claire writer argues that it’s the responsibility of top-tier directors like Nolan to make the films she wants more of.
This year’s “Wonder Woman” and “Atomic Blonde” are both highly rated films, revealing little gender bias among film critics. Likewise, the female-driven “Mad Max: Fury Road” was equally enjoyed by critics of either sex, earning it a spot as one of the highest rated films ever made. Films about women in times of war have been made, several to critical acclaim—including “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The English Patient.” According to film reviewers, each of these films broke the mold by taking typically male settings and centering them around female protagonists.
Dunkirk was a prominent event in military history, but is rarely given notice in pop culture. To anyone who’s heard of Dunkirk, the evacuation is largely remembered as both a miracle and a disaster for the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. Failing to defend France against the Germans, the British were forced to evacuate over 338,000 troops with the aid of private civilians.
However, over 30,000 troops were left behind to be captured as prisoners of war to the German army. The British press managed to turn the loss into a sort of victory with the “Dunkirk Spirit” that showed the solidarity of the British people in saving the lives of their countrymen. With “Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan shed light on an event that would’ve otherwise relegated to the history books.