Earlier this week, a second trailer was released for Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk, which features an all-star cast that includes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Mark Rylance. It is two minutes of edge-of-your-seat action: High stakes emotions, killer explosions, and an adrenaline-pumping score that captures the tension of this legendary moment in history.
The film is based on the events that transpired between May 26 and June 4, 1940. In late spring of that year, British and Allied Forces were trapped on the Dunkirk beaches—vulnerable to the attacks of the advancing German army. As the only buffer between the enemy and a devastating victory, they were faced with an impossible choice: To surrender and give Axis powers control of their capital cities, or to fight (and likely die trying). Their decision? They bravely rose to the challenge: “We shall fight to the end. We shall never surrender,” is overheard in the trailer.
But the troops had help. Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation, known as Operation Dynamo, and all of Britain rallied to the soldiers’ defense. Even civilians joined the effort, setting out in their fishing boats and pleasure yachts (as portrayed by Kenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy here) to save the stranded. Against all odds, Operation Dynamo and her motley crew of rescuers saved 338,000 men by June 4. It’s no wonder the battle is considered a “miracle,” and is getting the big-screen treatment from one of the most acclaimed directors of our time.
Dunkirk hits theaters July 21, but if you’re interested in learning more beforehand, check out The Miracle of Dunkirk, by Walter Lord. A New York Times-bestselling author and noted historian, Lord uses his knowledge of World War II history to create a stirring account of the brave men who stood their ground and the equally brave men who brought them home.
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Featured Image: Still from "Dunkirk" (2017), via Warner Bros.