This weekend, the explosive World War II drama, DUNKIRK — directed by Christopher Nolan (famously of the DARK KNIGHT trilogy) — returns to select AMC theatres.
In case you missed a showing this summer, the film chronicles the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, France, from May 26 to June 4, 1940, who had been surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France (which resulted in the conquering of France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands by Nazi Germany). The successful evacuation of the soldiers from Dunkirk has prompted it to be known as the "Miracle of Dunkirk."
DUNKIRK is a must-see on the big screen, as well as another upcoming film that revolves around the same time period: DARKEST HOUR opens everywhere December 22, with a limited release December 8. The film follows newly appointed British prime minister Winston Churchill — played by Gary Oldman (coincidentally, Commissioner Gordon in the DARK KNIGHT trilogy) — during “his most turbulent and defining trial” in the early days of World War II.
With the fall of France imminent, Britain faces its darkest hour as the threat of invasion looms. As the seemingly unstoppable Nazi forces advance, and with the Allied army cornered on the beaches of Dunkirk, the fate of Western Europe hangs on Churchill’s leadership.
The Dunkirk Connection
Similar to Nolan’s war drama, the Battle of Dunkirk is a central piece of the DARKEST HOUR story, as supported by the film’s trailer:
“The Germans have encircled 60 British and French divisions. We are looking at the collapse of Western Europe in the next few days.” — British military official in the War Room with Churchill
“How long have they got if we don’t rescue them?” — Elizabeth Nel, Churchill’s secretary, as played by Lily James (CINDERELLA in Disney's 2015 adaptation). Churchill replies, “Maybe two days. We would need a miracle to get our men out!”
In the climax of the trailer, Churchill delivers the following impassioned quote:
“We shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds; we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
This quote is taken directly from Churchill’s speech to Parliament on June 4, 1940, following the Dunkirk evacuation. The quote is also invoked in a TV spot for DUNKIRK.
Winston Churchill in DARKEST HOUR before Parliament giving his famous "we shall fight on the beaches" speech. [Credit: Focus Features]
Though the two films surround the same events, they are told from different perspectives. In directing DUNKIRK, Nolan wanted to keep the focus on the viewpoint of the soldiers, which is why Germans are not shown on screen and there are no scenes of Churchill or any generals in a war room, as Nolan did not want to get "bogged down in the politics of the situation."
Scene from DUNKIRK where German aircraft drop leaflets on the Allied soldiers letting them know they are surrounded [Credit: Focus Features]
DARKEST HOUR, on the other hand, puts the spotlight on Churchill and how his courage changed the course of world history. Director Joe Wright (ATONEMENT, PRIDE & PREJUDICE) provides an intimate look at the prime minister and allows the dialogue to drive the drama. Hear more about Wright’s approach in our exclusive interview with the DARKEST HOUR cast.
Whether you’re a history buff or a fan of award-worthy films, you can’t miss DUNKIRK and DARKEST HOUR at AMC this month. Get your tickets to DUNKIRK today and mark your calendar to see DARKEST HOUR December 22.