By Mandi Hall, executive features editor
German forces had invaded Poland, the Netherlands and France. The German navy ruled the sea. And 400,000 British and French soldiers were trapped on the beaches in between, with little hope of escape.
Dunkirk tells the incredible true story of the supposedly impossible rescue and evacuation of nearly 340,000 men of the Allied Forces from the shores of Dunkirk, France during WWII. The historical event is often referred to as “The Miracle of Dunkirk.”
The film follows stories from three different areas: the shore, the sea and the air, each taking place over a different span of time. The movie does a nice job alternating between showing what the event was like for the masses and displaying the emotions and experiences for individual people.
Despite the sometimes confusing aspect of the time and location jumps, Dunkirk is a great, albeit very intense, movie about human resistance and compassion for one another. The movie contains less dialogue than your average film, an interesting yet wise director’s choice which adds to the feelings of either hopelessness or determination throughout the film, depending on when it’s used.
It’s not exactly a war film, like Saving Private Ryan or The Dirty Dozen, but that didn’t subtract from the film’s quality; it only made it stand out. Dunkirk tells an interesting story about bravery and survival as it depicts different aspects of one true event.
About Historical Movies
When the movie 300 first came out, social science teacher Dave Schnell recalls hearing students talk about how good the movie was, and how great it was that it was historically accurate. He thought they couldn’t be more wrong.
When it comes to these types of movies that depict historical events, many people take issue with the creative license that is often applied. Due to this, teachers who show these kinds of movies in class often either give an assignment or have a class discussion about where history was distorted.
For Schnell, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line.
“They’re putting in characters, they’re trying to create the good, the bad, and they have to create conflict and drama,” Schnell said. “When you really get into academic history, it’s kind of dry.”
Schnell highlighted movies like Braveheart, which is based on the fight for Scottish independence. However, there is a very clear “good guys vs. bad guys” theme throughout the movie. Titanic has the same kind of problem.
“You’re meant to root for one person, or couple in this case, and you’re supposed to hate the other side,” Schnell said. “ … Everything else gets thrown out of whack because they’re trying to tell you this story that just happens to be set in this historical time.”
He usually chooses not to show these types of movies in class, preferring to show historical fiction films, such as Lagaan, that have true events and facts sprinkled into an interesting story.
“I think those are better because clearly, you’re telling the audience immediately, ‘this is my interpretation of things,’” Schnell said. “This is a fantasy, a revision, or something else. It doesn’t have to be legitimate and it can [still] be tinged with elements or pieces of accurate history.”