DUNKIRK (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Dunkirk is a war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan.  The film portrays the miraculous evacuation during World War II from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Nolan sought to create suspense from cinematography and music. The film has extensive practical effects, employs thousands of extras, historic boats and period airplanes. Dunkirk is a true story about 300,000 plus soldiers hopelessly trapped on the beach at Dunkirk.

Because Dunkirk is a well known story in history, I’ve decided to post the entire story as it doesn’t take anything away from the movie.


In 1940, during the Battle of France, when allied soldiers retreated to Dunkirk, Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British private, became the sole survivor when he escaped a German ambush and ended up on the beach in Dunkirk.   There he found thousands of troops awaiting evacuation. Soon after meeting Gibson (Aneurin Barnard), who was burying a soldier, the two found a wounded man as a result of a German dive-bomber attack.  They transported him by stretcher onto a hospital ship and was hoping to remain aboard, but were ordered off and the ship was sunk by dive bombers.  Tommy then helped another soldier named Alex (Harry Styles) from out of the water. They decided to leave at night on a destroyer, but it was sunk by a torpedo. Gibson opened a hatch, freeing Tommy and Alex from the hold, and they ended up back on the beach.

With only 1 mole available for embarking on deep-draft ships, the Royal Navy requisitions civilian vessels that can get to the beach. In Weymouth, an amateur sailor named Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) set out on his boat, Moonstone instead of letting the Navy commandeer her. Impulsively, Peter’s teenage friend George (Barry Keoghan) joins them. At sea, they rescue a shell-shocked soldier from a wrecked ship. When he realizes that Dawson is continuing on to Dunkirk, the soldier demands that they turn back and tries to wrest control of the boat; in the struggle, George falls and suffers a head injury that renders him blind. Elsewhere, three Spitfires cross the English Channel, heading towards Dunkirk. After their leader is shot down in a dogfight, one of the pilots, Farrier (Tom Hardy), assumes command even though his fuel gauge is shattered. They save a minesweeper from a German Heinkel He 111 bomber, but the other surviving Spitfire is hit and ditches. The pilot, Collins (Jack Lowden), cannot open his canopy to escape his sinking airplane, but is rescued by the Moonstone.

Tommy, Alex and Gibson join a group of Scottish soldiers and hide inside a trawler that lies beached outside the Allied perimeter, waiting for the rising tide to re-float it. German troops shoot at the boat, and water enters through the bullet holes. Alex, hoping to lighten the boat, accuses Gibson, who has been silent throughout, of being a German spy and demands that he leave. Gibson reveals he is French; he stole the identity of the soldier he buried, hoping to be evacuated with the British. Everyone abandons the fishing boat when it begins to sink. Gibson is unable to get out and drowns. Alex and Tommy swim towards a nearby destroyer, but it is sunk by a bomber. Moonstone manoeuvres to take on those in the water, including Alex and Tommy. Peter discovers that George is dead; when asked by the shell-shocked soldier, he lies that George will be fine. Farrier shoots down the bomber before his fuel runs out. Gliding over the beach, he lands beyond the Allied perimeter. He sets fire to his airplane and is taken prisoner. At the beach, Royal Navy Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) watches the last British soldiers leave. He notes that nearly 300,000 have been evacuated, ten times more than British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had hoped for. He remains to oversee the evacuation of the French.

Arriving back in Weymouth, Dawson is congratulated for having saved so many men. The shell-shocked soldier sees George’s body being carried away. Peter goes to the local newspaper; a front-page article later commends George as a hero. Alex and Tommy board a train in Weymouth. Alex expects public hostility as the train approaches Woking, but they receive a hero’s welcome instead. Tommy reads out Churchill’s address to the nation from a newspaper.

Dunkirk shows a lot of war action.  If you’re not into war movies, you’ll probably hate the this one.  I didn’t find Dunkirk easy to follow or easy to accept.  There is a lot of death, destruction and defeat.  While this is the reality of war, it’s not easy to relive.  I think Nolan did a tremendous job with Dunkirk war is just not my favorite subject.  I highly recommend Dunkirk if you fuzzy on your history re ww2.  Check it out.

[Dunkirk is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Director, Cinematography,  Production Design, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing]


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