The Evacuation of Dunkirk is probably not well known to those unfamiliar with WWII history. In a nut-shell, about 400,000 Allied soldiers ( mainly British, Belgian and Canadian) were trapped on the harbor and beaches of Dunkirk, a small town in France across from the English Channel. This military disaster occurred because the Germans had surrounded the Allied forces in the Battle of France and had driven them to the sea. The evacuation took place from 5/26-6/4/1940. On the first day, only 7,669 soldiers were evacuated, but by 6/4/1940, 338,226 troops had escaped. Some were taken off the shore by 39 British destroyers, but many were taken to England in small boats manned by English civilians. For unknown reasons, the German High Command gave a halt order which allowed sufficient time for the evacuation. The entire Allied forces were essentially sitting ducks to be slaughtered by the Germans via air bombs, torpedoes, and other weapons. It would be the ultimate understatement to say that things looked grim.
The film chronicles this event from three perspectives, each with different time spans. The Army (one week), the Navy (one day) and the British Royal Air-Force (RAF) dueling it out against the German Luftwaffe (one hour). The film shifts from one military branch to the other throughout the movie, but this works fine.
My friend Warren is a movie lover, especially war films. I’ve been trying to get him to write some reviews, but he’s too busy saving lives as an internist in Conn. Anyway, he LOVED this film and sent me an email about it. This is what he wrote:
“The Titanic of war flicks. Easily best in the genre since ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ and one of the best ever – and I’ve seen almost every war flick out there. Unparalleled scope and depth. Gut-level visceral. Intense score throughout. Technical genius, unbelievably real scenes and CGI. The RAF fighter scenes blew me away. Christopher Nolan (Writer/Director) was masterful. It will be a front runner for Best Picture/Best Director AW. See on the biggest screen possible, IMAX! The first really big film of this year. I see it as a visual spectacular with an almost documentary look. I could feel the intensity of being stranded on that beach, or about to get blown out of the sky at any moment, or being strafed, torpedoed, or blown to bits on a ship. I believe the film brilliantly places the viewer back 77 years with a convincing feel for warfare and the desperation to survive.”
I agree with most of the above, but I wasn’t as emotionally involved in this film as I was with “Saving Private Ryan” or “Bridge on the River Kwai” because, unlike those two, “Dunkirk” isn’t a character-driven movie. The film is a MUST SEE, however, for its technical mastery alone. You really feel like you are right there! (You might want to bring your bicycle helmet to feel safe from the bombs!)
It’s a miracle that over 330,000 troops were rescued. If they hadn’t been, Germany probably would have won the war and our world would be much worse than it is now, even with President Trump!