Dunkirk: Brush up on the history before you see it

 

Most of us beyond a certain age have long been looking forward to the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk.  The film depicts the nine-day rescue of more than three hundred thirty thousand British and Allied troops stranded in the French city of Dunkirk, May 26 to June 4, 1940.  Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium had all surrendered.  The troops were trapped, with Germans on three sides, leaving only the sea as a possible escape route.  Churchill ordered their evacuation by sea, enlisting 861 small personal boats skippered by British citizens.  They sailed from all over the south of England to Dunkirk as part of Operation Dynamo.  They pulled men from the water, off sinking ships, and off the beach.  This was accomplished under constant air attacks by the German Luftwaffe.

The film begins with the fliers dropped over Dunkirk by the Germans advising surrender, as the British are surrounded and have no possibility of escape.  There is no information given as to what came before, what led to the predicament of the British and Allied forces.  The film does not relate the details of the operation, that the small boats were rescuing men and returning them to England, a journey of 39 to 87 miles, depending on the route.  Churchill himself is barely mentioned in the film.  Some words of his "We will fight them on the beaches" speech are read from the newspaper at the end.  

One might learn more about the tension leading up to the battle at Dunkirk from the second episode of the first season of Foyle's War, "White Feather" (available on Netflix).  It is an equally personal account of the dedication and spirit of the British small boat operators who risked their own lives, many of whom were lost, to rescue the stranded soldiers.

The film shows what happened but explains almost nothing.  The actors are all quite good, but there is precious little dialogue.  While the enormousness of the undertaking is fully realized, even those who know the history of this major event might be hard pressed to follow the action as shown.  There is almost no way to know time passed or who is shooting at whom.  So, before seeing it, brush up on the details.  Viewers will need to be armed with the facts if they are to grasp the dire predicament in which those troops found themselves and the tremendous selflessness that pulled off one of the greatest rescue operations all time.

 

 

 
 
 

 

Most of us beyond a certain age have long been looking forward to the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk.  The film depicts the nine-day rescue of more than three hundred thirty thousand British and Allied troops stranded in the French city of Dunkirk, May 26 to June 4, 1940.  Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium had all surrendered.  The troops were trapped, with Germans on three sides, leaving only the sea as a possible escape route.  Churchill ordered their evacuation by sea, enlisting 861 small personal boats skippered by British citizens.  They sailed from all over the south of England to Dunkirk as part of Operation Dynamo.  They pulled men from the water, off sinking ships, and off the beach.  This was accomplished under constant air attacks by the German Luftwaffe.

The film begins with the fliers dropped over Dunkirk by the Germans advising surrender, as the British are surrounded and have no possibility of escape.  There is no information given as to what came before, what led to the predicament of the British and Allied forces.  The film does not relate the details of the operation, that the small boats were rescuing men and returning them to England, a journey of 39 to 87 miles, depending on the route.  Churchill himself is barely mentioned in the film.  Some words of his "We will fight them on the beaches" speech are read from the newspaper at the end.  

One might learn more about the tension leading up to the battle at Dunkirk from the second episode of the first season of Foyle's War, "White Feather" (available on Netflix).  It is an equally personal account of the dedication and spirit of the British small boat operators who risked their own lives, many of whom were lost, to rescue the stranded soldiers.

The film shows what happened but explains almost nothing.  The actors are all quite good, but there is precious little dialogue.  While the enormousness of the undertaking is fully realized, even those who know the history of this major event might be hard pressed to follow the action as shown.  There is almost no way to know time passed or who is shooting at whom.  So, before seeing it, brush up on the details.  Viewers will need to be armed with the facts if they are to grasp the dire predicament in which those troops found themselves and the tremendous selflessness that pulled off one of the greatest rescue operations all time.

 

 

 
 
 

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