All posts tagged: allegory

An Inverted Victory

SPOILER ALERT: This review does indeed contain spoilers. The much-anticipated military thriller Dunkirk by director Christopher Nolan is not the war film I was expecting. Dunkirk rethinks the genre of military films. We are used to having films about particular historic battles retell a great victory, shed light on some lesser-known heroics, or give us a new perspective on famous events. I expected Dunkirk to go the second and third routes. Dunkirk does give us different angles of the British experience of the famous Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, France after their retreat from the rapidly advancing German army. It also focuses on a few characters and their experience of the events. But this is no 21st century version of The Longest Day, the 1962 saga of D-Day. It is effectively the inverse. Where The Longest Day told of the Allied invasion of the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 as the beginning of the Allies’ defeat of the Germany army occupying France, Dunkirk is less a rehashing of …

Democracy Dies in Distortion

SPOILER ALERT: This review does indeed contain spoilers. In late 1965, U.S. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg was embedded with combat troops fighting America’s long, costly and deadly war in South Vietnam. He stayed at their campsite; he witnessed soldiers patrol the thick forest as they were overcome by enemy fire; he reported observations to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. To a few, McNamara admitted the Vietnam War was getting worse instead of progressing. To the press, the defense secretary presented a distorted truth, saying the U.S. was making ground. McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) and U.S. political leaders crafted a story for the U.S. people. Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), an American journalists portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s The Post, relentlessly pursued the story. The search for truth comes with tenacious dilemmas and agonizing decisions. Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) captured the weight of this responsibility as she reckoned with her duty as the first female publisher of The Washington Post. Ellsberg leaked the classified Pentagon Papers, which detailed the nation’s fraught military and political involvements in Vietnam, to The New …

An Accidental Allegory of the Sheep and the Goats

SPOILER ALERT: This review does indeed contain spoilers. The Shape of Water is a strange fairy tale about a mute cleaning lady named Elisa who falls in love with an anthropomorphic river creature. Despite the film’s oddity, and partly because of it, the selfless Elisa shines as a witness of how ordinary acts of charity can lead to unexpected happiness, or, dare I say (?) beatitude, after the pattern described by Christ in the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. Elisa is a thirty-something mute woman working maintenance at a government research facility in the 1960’s. One day in a lab where Elisa is cleaning, a new specimen arrives: an Amazonian water creature that looks part human, part fish, and part Pokémon. The scientists in the lab see him as an object of study. His primary captor, Richard Strickland, sees him as an object of disdain. Elisa, his eventual lover, sees him as a creature desperately in need of help. Elisa, One of the Sheep When Elisa encounters the creature for the …