Director Christopher Nolan’s superb new movie “Dunkirk” conveys important messages about a fateful episode of World War II.
In May of 1940, the rapid Nazi advance through France trapped a huge British army on the coast, offering easy targets for Luftwaffe bombers. The Royal Navy couldn’t rescue the troops from the beaches, so the government rallied civilian craft-fishing boats, ferries, and pleasure cruisers.
Some 650 “little ships” helped take more than 300,000 troops safely home. This miraculous evacuation exemplified “The Dunkirk Spirit,” where private initiative saves the nation in a crisis.
The film highlights a moment when the war could have gone the other way. Except for the fact that, not the military, but instead a group of civilians heeded the call of the new Prime Minister Winston Churchill (who had just been appointed days before). With over 300,000 British troops who were trapped, the question was: Were they going to be butchered one-by-one by Hermann Göring’s Air Force?
Watching this thrilling movie, American citizens should find our “Dunkirk Spirit” to help our country overcome present dangers. We should also recall the example of the new prime minister in 1940, who inspired his countryman after Dunkirk by pledging “we shall never surrender.”
Churchill’s words remind us that our politics need not remain tawdry and petty, and can rise once again to grandeur and nobility.
The film is one of the year’s best, and perhaps the best war movie since “Saving Private Ryan.”
“Dunkirk” stars Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance. The film is in theaters now.