It’s hard to know where to start to review a film that leaves you well and truly speechless. Dunkirk is a cinematic masterpiece that doesn’t let your guard drop for the whole 1 hour and 50 minutes and leaves you exhausted by the end. Nolan has delivered a fitting tribute to those involved in the events of May 1940, Hans Zimmer’s chilling and tense filled score adds to the drama.
400,000 allied troops are stuck in the northern French port of Dunkirk. The Nazis are surrounding them on 3 sides with the English Channel giving them nowhere to go on the 4th. They are stuck on the beach, hopeless and helpless. They need rescuing, and rescuing quickly.
The evacuation of Dunkirk is most famous for the large number of boats from all across southern England that were involved in rescuing these soldiers. They were no navy, they were pleasure boats, speedboats, lifeboats. Some boats were even taken without the consent of their owner. All of them travelled to France with one purpose – to save the British Army. Nolan cleverly weaves their tale with the soldiers on the beaches and the pilots flying their spitfires in the sky to tell the story of 28 May – 4 June.
One of the main themes of the film is the sacrificial actions of many people to save those on the beaches. We see the stories of those in the Navy bringing their boats as close to shore as they could to allow the soldiers to escape. We see how those in the RAF put themselves in danger to stop the Luftwaffe (the German airforce) bombing those ships – particularly moving was Tom Hardy’s character who carried on fighting, even when he knew it would mean that he didn’t have enough petrol to get home himself. We also see those on the small boats. Civilians, like you or I, who were willing to use what they had to go and save others.
I couldn’t help but think of Jesus when I watched this film. We are like those 400,000 troops, stuck on a beach. Without a hope and in need of a quick and sudden rescue. We haven’t got the Nazis around us. Instead we need to be saved from ourselves. Humanity has put itself in the place of God and needs to be rescued from His wrath – something that is far worse than any suffering the Nazis may have brought.
Rather than being saved by the Navy or the RAF or the small boats, the Bible tells us that Jesus came to rescue us. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians (1:10), said:
Jesus… rescues us from the coming wrath.
He came and paid the ultimate sacrifice – giving His life so that we could be rescued. Unlike those who gave that sacrifice in Dunkirk, He rose 3 days later, defeating death & hell and ensuring our victory in Him. He didn’t just rescue around 360,000 people, He rescued a people that is beyond number. And He can rescue you too. That’s how great Jesus’ sacrifice is – it was enough for anyone who will trust in Him.
So go and watch Dunkirk. Enjoy Dunkirk. Be wowed by Dunkirk. But remember than in all their sacrifice, there was One who made a far greater sacrifice and His name is Jesus.