Okay I have to take a moment and ask @eldusto84 HOW DID YOU DO THIS? It's absolutely incredible. I loved Dunkirk and Darkest Hour as their own films, but I'm stunned how much better they worked as a merged up movie. Cutting out the outside-of-politics Churchill scenes were a little tough given their purpose and great acting in Darkest Hour... but the decision totally works in the context of this WWII focused film. The quality of acting is seamlessly top notch from the direction Joe Wright (Darkest Hour) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), working hand in hand with the movies merged up. The editing is sleek with no apparent visual or audio issues. And as noted in a previous review this is now my go-to edit for the Dunkirk story, rather than watch two different movies covering the event. Great job!!
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.
I love both Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour separately, but this fanedit has been my go-to version of this story on film ever since I first encountered it on Maple Film's site around two years ago. It is an incredible technical achievement and a film that I consider to be a benchmark in how to successfully combine two films into one. 10/10, hard recommend.
I hate seeing a review with perfect 10s because I always think "that can't possibly be a PERFECT film", however, I just can't justify taking a star rating off anywhere. I could quibble about how effective this narrative is, but the fact is it's a masterful piece of editing that brings both films to an emotional climax that neither fully managed on its own. I could nitpick about wanting the films to be intercut more, but where is there actually an organic place to do that early in Dunkirk? I could say that this isn't my most enjoyed movie ever, so no "10", but I DID enjoy it more than either of the original films. In the end, this is simply the only way I'll rewatch either of these, so despite any slight complaints, I have to give this full marks all around.
So what is lost compared to the original films? Well, for the most part, not much that you'll miss. (Some SPOILERS for each film necessary from here on...) The beginning of this film is heavier with scenes from Darkest Hour, setting up the mess that Churchill inherited, and the pressure he faced to surrender and give up on the lives of Britain's soldiery. That film is thematically focused on his efforts to find just the right words to persuade people and inspire them in...ahem...their darkest hour. To this end, it goes to great pains to show how he relied on both his wife and personal secretary to keep grounded and hopeful. While it is unfortunate that many of those scenes are lost (along with the questionable 'Churchill take the Tube' scene), honestly they just flesh out the film and are not the strongest elements. The theme of the power of Churchill's exact words is kind of sublimated in this cut, but really the speeches stand on their own so it works in the time given.
As this film goes on, it relies more and more on Dunkirk footage, focusing on the struggles to get the soldiers evacuated and off the beach. The contributions of both the citizen Navy and the British air support play out linearly here, which works better imho. Not a whole lot feels lost from Dunkirk actually, excepting for the subplot of the French soldier. I did rather miss the reveal that he was not simply an astonishingly quiet lad, as all the hints are still present, but it's understandable that it would distract from the new, joined narrative. To me, Dunkirk's theme was actually in how all of Britain rallied and did their part, a sort of tribute to the stoic, modest, head-down courageousness of the average citizenry. But whereas in a film like The Hobbit series, that theme is beat to death with swelling music and incessant speeches, it got rather lost in all the tense drama of Dunkirk. Here, it's actually improved and brought out more strongly through being intercut with Churchill's speeches and a linearly-building narrative.
When you put these films together, it's plain that the stronger elements are in Dunkirk. I quite like Joe Wright and composer Dario Marianelli, but Nolan and Zimmer are just operating on a-whole-nother level. However, their work in Dunkirk could actually get overwhelming. The combination of the four artists here alternates between tension and pressure, physical and psychological, so that the end result is more keenly felt. The whole affair looks and sounds stunning, with much of Zimmer's score being used, but toned down a bit so as to not drown out dialogue. There is both a color and black & white version of this available, and I think I have to give the slight edge to the B&W. The two films have significantly different color grades, and while the regrading work on this edit is great, the B&W just ties it together perfectly and the lighting looks so crisp and impressive that way.
All in all, I was very impressed with this edit. At the beginning, it feels like we're watching a little too much of each film without cutting back to the other, really feeling like two separate movies. However, the intercutting picks up and is more artfully done as the story goes on, leading to one of the most impressive endings of a fan-edit I've ever seen. I do miss the character exploration of Darkest Hour, and the unending tension of Dunkirk, but I wasn't keen to rewatch either. This combination keeps the best of both, and has become my preferred way to rewatch. I highly recommend seeking it out.
This edit combining two wonderful films does drag a little in some places because of the cutting between, and hence the pacing of each movie is messed with a little (they both are marvelous films individually in basically every aspect). But I am glad I watched this edit. I did quite enjoy it and loved seeing it in b/w. Seeing the same conflict from both of these angles at the same time was definitely something I’d been looking for. Will I revisit this? Yes. Will I revisit the original films more? Yes. But this edit has many remarkable aspects to it, such as the ending montage as mentioned by some others here.