Unassailable Spirit and Ferocious Courage Hallmarks of ‘Dunkirk’

Andrew Bellucci, Staff Reporter

When 300,000 British and French soldiers stood on a beach in France, their fear would’ve been almost tangible. This year Christopher Nolan has given us a small taste of the terror of waiting for the improbable salvation from the sea. It was known as Operation Dynamo, The Miracle at Dunkirk or simply the Evacuation of Dunkirk. Nolan’s latest film is titled “Dunkirk” and paints a nail-biting picture of one of WW II’s greatest stories.   

  Dunkirk” gives us a glimpse into the truth that in war, men make the greatest stories with unassailable spirit and ferocious courage.

There is a bit of background needed to understand the film. In brief, the rapid advance of German forces effectively split France in two, with the British Expeditionary Force (the British soldiers in the movie) and about half the French Army in the north and the rest of French forces in the south. The whirlwind campaign ended with the BEF and the French driven back into a perimeter centered on a French port called Dunkirk. Since the BEF was almost all of the British land forces, a decision was made to attempt a massive naval evacuation. That evacuation is what is portrayed in the film.

For starters, as one gets into the film, something becomes apparent: there are no Germans, at least seen on screen. Indeed, German soldiers are only seen at the very end of the movie (a U-boat attack and aircraft scenes are discounted since you cannot actually see German soldiers). This has the effect of placing a greater emphasis on the characters depicted.

The characters are also purposely vague. Without spoilers, they are a pilot, a group of British soldiers, with the focal point being one, and a young teenager. Other than names, there is very little revealed about them. The same goes for the supporting cast. Almost all movies use actors to convey the tone and theme of the movie; essentially the actors carry the movie. In “Dunkirk,” however, it is the opposite. The tone of the movie and the situations carry the actors.

Despite the focus not being on them, the acting is still splendid. Tom Hardy, in particular, deserves heavy praise. As an RAF pilot, his character plays the part of an aerial duelist, with the single-minded purpose of killing his opponent. Hardy channels this into one of the performances of his career.

The focus of the film is not on combat on even the characters, but rather the direness of the situation. The moments of action aren’t action packed. That may seem counterintuitive, but rather than action-packed scenes of guns blazing and blood spilling, it depicts the other side of war, scared men in hopeless situations and brave men with nothing but heart and courage.

The real-life Dunkirk was a miracle of human spirit and courage, something that will never be truly replicated. “Dunkirk” gives us a glimpse into the truth that in war, men make the greatest stories with unassailable spirit and ferocious courage.