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Two stories in one - an easygoing British Corporal in France finds himself responsible for the lives of his men when their officer is killed. He has to get them back to Britain somehow. Meanwhile, British civilians are being dragged into the war with Operation Dynamo, the scheme to get the French and British forces back from the Dunkirk beaches. Some come forward to help, others are less willing. Written by
Paul Galpin <email@example.com>
My favorite story of heroism in the 20th century happens to be the evacuation of the bulk of the British army from the beaches at Dunkirk. There was the United Kingdom which if they had not been rescued probably would have had to sue for peace with Nazi Germany despite Mr. Churchill's intentions to fight. The United Kingdom would have had nothing to fight with and World War II would have been over on the western front.
The Dunkirk story was touched on briefly in the American cinema in William Wyler's Mrs. Miniver. Walter Pidgeon who owned a small craft was asked to meet some friends at a local pub. Turns out they wanted him and his boat to cross the English channel and evacuate troops. It's one of the great scenes from that film boats feeding in from every tributary of Thames and the flotilla sailing out to sea. But it's only part of Mrs. Miniver.
The story is told from the perspective of the high command, but also from the ordinary tommy and from the civilians who helped. John Mills is a corporal who leads his small squad out of certain capture from the Germans. Richard Attenborough is a small craft owner like Walter Pidgeon who is a timid and frightened man, but summons up enough courage to help his country out in its darkest hour. Bernard Lee is a reporter who goes along with Attenborough to cover the story. All three meet on the beach at Dunkirk and go to the fates that await them and their country.
My favorite in the film is Attenborough, he plays his role with real conviction, representing as it were, the courage and determination of a people united to repel an evil.
Make no mistake about it, with the Royal Navy up over its head in other commitments, those people like Richard Attenborough in saving John Mills and others like him saved civilization itself. In many ways civilization owes them more than even the men of the RAF because they weren't in the armed forces, but civilians fighting for their homes and families as we did not see the like before or since.
Dunkirk is one of the best war films ever to come from the United Kingdom and a worthy tribute to the small boat owners who saved their army and their nation.
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