“A visceral, nerve-shredding film that needs to be experienced on the biggest screen you can find.” That was the i verdict on Christopher Nolan’s major new blockbuster, Dunkirk. Every screenwriter is allowed a little artistic licence, but just how accurate is the epic retelling of Britain’s great escape? “The film is a spectacle, it’s absolutely terrific, I really really enjoyed it,” says James Holland, a World War Two historian and author of ‘Duty Calls: Dunkirk’. “It’s just historically all over the place.” Too much emphasis on ‘little ships’ During the Dunkirk Evacuation, private boats were called upon to assist in the rescue operation. While Holland doesn’t deny the crucial role that the ‘little ships’ played in the evacuation, he feels that Nolan’s film exaggerates their role, and downplays the British Navy. “Judging by the film you’d think there were only two destroyers in the whole of the Royal Navy. But there were 202, and 41 of them were operating at Dunkirk, along with legions of minesweepers and trawlers and lighters.
“Watching Dunkirk you’re under the impression that 300,000 people had been evacuated by little ships when actually it was about 5%. “They massively exaggerated the role of little ships.” Holland suggests this may have been to encourage an inaccurate, against-all-odds plot. “It perpetuates this backs-to-the-wall, Little Britain, David versus Goliath story. But we had the world’s largest navy, we had over 200 destroyers alone. We had vast numbers of ships.” Spitfires only had 14 seconds of ammo – and couldn’t land on beaches Dunkirk is told from…Read More