World War Two, the deadliest in history, had a profound impact on the social, technological, economic, and environmental landscapes. The effects of this war can still be seen today. The war had many effects, and not just the battles. World War Two was shaped by many factors, including alliances and technological advances. The Battle of Pearl Harbor or The Battle of Normandy were among the largest battles of that war. The smaller battles are also important and should not be overlooked. Dunkirk was one of the smaller battles. Between 26 May and the 4th of June 1940, the events that are known as “Dunkirk” took place. Approximately 336,000 British troops, French soldiers, and Belgians were evacuated by naval and civilian crews during ‘Operation Dynamo.’ Although the event is remembered for its rescue and evacuation efforts, it was a crucial factor in the outcome. This mission saved a great deal of manpower, and if it failed there would have been fewer soldiers to fight on in the future war. Christopher Nolan, a brilliant director and writer, wrote “Dunkirk” to represent the Dunkirk evacuation during World War Two. The movie was shot in Dunkirk in France on the same beach as the actual evacuation. Some of the boats that were used in the film are the same ones that the British Navy used during World War II. Christopher Nolan uses dramatic effects which make viewers feel involved and part of a movie. The story in “Dunkirk”, is told from different perspectives, including the air and land. Some things were changed to dramatize the film, but most of it is true. In this paper, I will argue the historical facts are presented in the movies are mostly true and that they greatly outweigh parts that aren’t.

First, let’s talk about the events in history that “Dunkirk”, the movie, accurately portrayed. The movie begins with British troops walking around Dunkirk and sheets of white paper falling out of the sky. The paper is read by one soldier, who also sees an image of Dunkirk’s beach and German troops approaching from all sides. Germany’s propaganda was well-known during World War II, and the film accurately illustrates this propaganda, with Germans dropping flyers to show soldiers where they were and how trapped they were. The Germans used this tactic to make the Allied soldiers surrender by discouraging them. Christopher Nolan has made some changes to the original flyers. They were written in English, French and didn’t have any colour.

Nolan films the movie from the perspective of a private boat that is heading to Dunkirk Beach. The rescue vessel features Mr. Dawson’s son, as well as an unnamed friend. They are all focusing on the struggle they have to go to Dunkirk in order to help their fellow citizens. The British have always shown patriotism when the country was in dire need. Richard Weight focuses in 2002 on small boat’s element of the myth and associates it with popular belief that the British are an?island’ people for whom sea is a?protective moat, and who become belligerent, even though they were naturally pacic, when the coasts of Britain were threatened. In the end, we can see many of the private boats that helped the troops. History tells us many boats did arrive at Dunkirk as part of the evacuation. Around 160 French ships, boats, and ships of various sizes joined over 700 British vessels.

Nolan films the film from a different perspective, focusing on the British Royal Air Force’s “Spitfire” pilots as they fight the German “Luftwaffe”. The movie focuses on the pilots’ faces in battle to show the struggles they face to make viewers feel a part of war. The movie also shows how these aircraft can track, pursue and shoot down German airplanes. This part is historically accurate as “Spitfires”, the superior war planes of that time, are shown. The RAF pilots got to experience it and discovered it as a highly efficient killing machine. They were supported by Dowding’s efficient control organisation, the Radar Early Warning System and two outstanding pilots.

Nolan shows the film from the perspective of land. The soldiers are shown on the shore, and they live in constant terror of any attack. The film accurately depicts how soldiers wait in line for evacuation and how wounded are carried on to navy vessels to receive medical attention. The movie accurately depicts the absence of German troops on the ground in the film’s land perspective. Hitler mistakenly believed that the “Luftwaffe,” which was a German ground force, could handle the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk Beach. The German High Command committed a number of blunders that led to the evacuation of almost 340,000 troops. The movie showed both the mistaken decision to not send ground troops, and the failures by the “Luftwaffe”.

Winston Churchill, the British prime minister during World War Two played a major role in the conflict. Churchill was famous for his inspirational speeches that preached patriotism. Dunkirk includes a famous part of Churchill’s famous speech. “Wars cannot be won by evacuations. Yet, this victory should not be overlooked. It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact the the evacuation of our troops in France or Belgium was a huge military disaster. Another blow will be delivered almost immediately. We will fight to the very end. We will fight France. We will fight on the oceans and seas. We shall be more confident and stronger in the skies. We will defend the island at any cost. We will fight at the landing beaches. We will fight at the landing sites. We will fight on the landing grounds and the streets. We will fight on the hills. We will never give up. We will never surrender. Churchills final speech has many quotes taken directly from the original speech of 1940.

Dunkirk is a historical event which was mostly an escape rather than a war, because most of the troops who were trapped on the beach could not fight back the enemy. At the end of Dunkirk, after the evacuation and the troops arrive in Dover to return home, they are greeted by English, French and Belgians soldiers. The troops are embarrassed by the fact that they have returned safely home. They feel embarrassed and refuse to look at the civilians they see from the window of their train, but they are greeted as heroes when they return. The part of the movie that depicts the evacuated troops and Churchill not being satisfied with the evacuation is true to history. The evacuation of many troops was a major success. They had a lasting impact on the war. Dunkirk represents many aspects of British culture that have remained popular over the years: British nationalism, the sacrifice of patriotic values, the survival of a small number of people against all odds, plus the capacity to improvise.

Dunkirk is a movie that has a lot of historical accuracy, but also includes some fiction. It’s not due to faulty editing, it’s more because the dramatization was important. I was surprised to learn that the entire cast of characters is fictional. Their names are not found in books or journals. The characters, however, represent all those who were involved in the Dunkirk evacuation. The movie portrays a few soldiers on land, but they represent the many soldiers who were stuck on the beaches and their struggle to survive. Close-up shots of the RAF pilots helped to convey the drama and emotions they experienced while chasing down Luftwaffe aircraft. Rescue boat civilians were also depicted, and had to undergo hardships as they served their country. The emotions that the characters convey, despite being fictional characters, make viewers feel like they are part of war.

The presence of rescue ships, navy destroyers and the RAF is another thing that the movie gets wrong. The Royal Air Force plays a very small role in the film. There are only a couple of planes in action. In actuality, the number of aircraft was much higher. During Operation Dynamo’s nine-day period, the RAF suffered 177 aircraft losses.

The movie shows an enormous number of private boat rescues. But in reality they only made up 5% of all evacuations.

In the movie, only a few destroyers come to rescue the troops. However, in reality, over 40 destroyers were involved, and they accounted for most of the evacuated soldiers. The movie depicted the Dunkirk evacuation efforts, but the numbers were inaccurate.

In the film, we only saw a few French troops on the Dunkirk beaches. In reality, there were a diverse group of soldiers waiting to evacuate. The Royal Navy, with the help of civil craft, was able to achieve the equal evacuation goal between 29 May and morning 4 June. These numbers indicate that the film underplayed French troops and concentrated mainly on British troops.

World War two was the deadliest and most devastating war in history. Its impact on present-day society as well as future generations will never be forgotten. This essay compares the battles of World War II to the movie Dunkirk. The movie was historically accurate. The movie Dunkirk tells the story from three different viewpoints, each of which has its own impact on the emotions felt by the audience. The movie contained many historical details, but it also included some fiction. I have argued in this essay that historical events are important and that they outweigh those parts of the film that aren’t accurate. The movie Dunkirk is a brilliant portrayal of the Dunkirk evacuation.


  • arthurmacdonald

    Arthur Macdonald is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been a teaching assistant for 10 years, and has taught middle and high school students in the Atlanta area for the past 5 years.