Thoughts on Dunkirk

Usually I’m not into war movies, but when my siblings said they wanted to see Dunkirk, I tagged along.

And I’m really glad I did.


The movie centered around the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk beach, as seen through the eyes of the soldiers being evacuated and the civilian boats coming to transport them to safety.

Because of a lack of air cover, decent transport ships, and usable ports, thousands of men were stuck with an ever advancing enemy to their backs.

With the enemy bombing them from above and attacking from behind, the men were almost without hope. No one could be spared from the other fronts. No one was coming to save them. Hope was pretty much lost.

And that’s when the civilian boats came in. Cheers rose from the troops as older men in woolen sweaters, boys too young to serve, and women in short, sturdy heels sailed their private boats through enemy waters to help their own.

Soldier: “Where are we going?”
Civilian Boat Captain: “Dunkirk.”
Soldier: “I’m not going back!”
Civilian Boat Captain: “There’s no hiding from this, son. We have a job to do.”
Soldier: “If we go there we’ll die.”

Was it safe? No way! Were they any different from you and I? No!

They were just like us, just like our neighbors next door, but they were saving lives, hundreds of thousands of them.

I think that moment, as the civilian ships sailed in and as the bombs fell into the water around them, that moment was my favorite.

I thought of Sam and Frodo going to Mordor. They weren’t even dwarves, just hobbits with a love of food and gardening. Lol.

I thought of Izuku from My Hero Academia, a boy with no special skills, just a brave and sacrificial heart.

I thought of Scarlett from Caraval, a totally normal girl who’d risk anything to save her sister.

None of these people were Bruce Willis in Die Hard or Liam Neeson from Taken. They didn’t have super special skill sets, at least not in the beginning anyway.

They were just normal people, normal people willing to risk it all for the people they loved or for something they believed in.

I want to write characters like that, but even more, I want to live my life like that.

And I know that sort of courage doesn’t start in the moment you need to sail into enemy territory.

It starts when I’m staring at that blank page again for the hundredth time.

It starts when I’m trying to obey something I know the Lord has convicted me about, but it seems too hard, too difficult to follow through.

It doesn’t start with something grand tomorrow, but in how I live today.

Dunkirk was such a good reminder for me. I don’t have to have a super special skill set. I don’t have to be extremely brave. I just have to be willing, and if I have to sail into enemy waters tomorrow, I have to be ready today.

Have you seen Dunkirk yet?

What did you think?





About Britta Valentine

saved by grace, writer of young adult fiction, and drinker of copious amounts of coffee

2 comments on “Thoughts on Dunkirk

  1. I loved this movie! My favorite moment was when the RAF pilot looked at his gas gauge, saw he was in trouble, but kept fighting anyway. Simple things like fighting on low gas, something that would never effect a superhero, made for enormous tension.

    This of course was based in true events, albeit dramatized, but the movie makers picked what events to tell in what order. I want my fictional storytelling to be more like Dunkirk. Very powerful!

    • I didn’t even mention the pilot, but I should have! His part was fantastic. My brother said a similar thing about the reality vs fantasy aspect of it. The movie was really well done.

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