The setting of this film is WWII between May 26-June 04, 1940. One week is covered on land, one day on the sea and one hour in the air. Nazi Germany has invaded France and thousands of British and French soldiers have been forced to retreat to the seaside town of Dunkirk. The British soldiers are stranded on the beach and large ships have been sent to take them out to sea. Three RAF Spitfires are also trying to keep the German Luftwaffe planes from bombing the ships but they are very much outnumbered. The men get on a ship only to have it sink. If they survive the sinking, these men swim back to the shore and wait for another ship. The wounded on stretchers have priority but one stretcher takes up more room than several men. Britain sends out an emergency request for all seagoing vessels of any size to set sail to Dunkirk to take as many men as possible aboard.
All the characters and the story lines are fiction but some of the events are loosely based on true history. Generally, the representation of the evacuation is realistic. Destroyers and fighter planes were held back in order to defend Britain in case of an invasion attempt. Leaflets were dropped from German planes demanding that the British surrender. Adolf Hitler thought he had plenty of time to attack the stranded men and he ordered the Panzer tanks to wait for the crews to rest. Initially, French soldiers were not to be rescued but Winston Churchill rescinded this order. I thought this was probably the tensest film that I’ve ever watched? There is something happening every minute and you don’t know how many men will be killed and how many will be rescued? Ships sink, planes ditch in the water and the only respite for the men is that Germany held back because they thought it was impossible for a rescue to save the men!! 5* (I really loved this movie)
106 min, Action directed by Christopher Nolan with Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, James Bloor, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Luke Thompson, Michel Biel, Constantin Balsan, Billy Howle, Mikey Collins, Callum Blake, Dean Ridge.
Note: Imdb 8.5 out of 10, 93% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Metacritic 94 out of 100 with 52 critics 8.3 out of 10 with 980 user reviews.
Special Note: About 30 veteran Dunkirk survivors in their mid-nineties attended the movie premiere in London. They felt it accurately captured the actual events but the soundtrack was louder than the actual bombardment!! (I did think the sound of the bombs was loud!!) Most of the men on the beach were young and inexperienced soldiers. Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas plus a friend made the crossing from England to Dunkirk on a boat like the civilian ships. Nolan received a $20 million salary and 20% of the box office gross, the biggest deal along with Peter Jackson who received the same amount for King Kong 2005. An IMAX camera was in the cockpit when the Spitfire ditches and fills with water. Potentially, both the camera and the film were ruined but the wet film was shipped back to Los Angeles and processed before drying out. Nolan rode in a Spitfire for the movie to get a feel of the plane and angles for scenes. Over 50 boats were used and this is the most for any film. There is another film with the same title from 1958.