…obviously, the dead don’t talk; if they did, it’d be time to put on your brown trousers and run for the nearest holy-building—the vampires have awoken. Bloody Armageddon is upon us!
Miraculous supernatural mischief aside, I’m experimenting with a part-serious blog here. Close those mouths, people, you’ll catch a fly… and everyone knows flies like to hang out on poop.
Anyway… the dead don’t talk and there’s something so profoundly heart wrenching that accompanies their silence (unless you’re a murderer, in which case, I guess you’re pretty relieved they’re without voice. Shame on you!)
And last week I finally got around to better understanding a dead-man’s story that I’d been keen to make sense of.
No, I didn’t seek the help of a Medium or draw myself a Ouija board. I watched the film ‘Dunkirk’.
Eager as I was, I’d been putting it off for two reasons: I’m a skinflint, so I waited until it was in the library to rent (I’m not paying popcorn prices at the cinema) and, I wanted to watch it in the comfort of my own home, where I could snot-cry openly if the mood took me.
The thing is, my Grandad was there (not on the set of Christopher Nolan’s film… that would’ve been weird, considering he’s been deceased for over twenty-five years.). My Grandad survived the real evacuation of Dunkirk. Growing up I had no idea of the magnitude, the personal crisis and damage war brought individual people. It wasn’t really the topic of a young girl’s wistful musings. In my eyes, war was all rather exciting, and somewhat romantic.
And like a lot of men who’d been actively involved in the Second World War, Grandad never contradicted my secret, misguided notion of war—because he never talked about his time on the front line.
He died of a stroke when I was twelve. And apart from the odd pet (or two), he was the first person I knew and loved who’d gone into the big, un-waking sleep. It was a heart-breaking experience for my twelve-year-old self; I found the idea that I would never see or talk to him again unsettling and jarring.
It’s like a light goes on in your head; with the flick of a switch, the dark bliss of naivety is vanquished with the cold glaring floodlights of mortality—because when that person dies, their ability to tell you about their life vanishes with them.
And although the normal symptoms of grief subsided, the discomfort from lack of knowledge—understanding his involvement in the momentous war—only seemed to grow stronger and more profound as I aged. Twenty-something years later, and it became a beast of an itch.
Granted, I would never know Grandad’s personal story, but watching the journey of others brought to life on the big screen got me as close to understanding his as it could.
And I can honestly say, with sickly-sweet, vomit inducing cheesiness… I’m grateful to the people who made that film. For giving inconsequential-me an opportunity to see what it had probably been like for my Grandad all those years ago.
As it turned out, I didn’t cry watching Dunkirk (I think seeing Tom Hardy on screen helped). But I did feel moved, answered, and reflective about my own silly misgivings.
And that, my friends, is the reason films, like Dunkirk, are golden-geese for relatives of the deceased. The dead don’t talk, can’t tell you diddlysquat about what they’ve seen, experienced or done; so, it’s nice to have someone else willing to create epic pieces, that’ll help inform you instead.