Paris Film Critics Accuse Dunkirk of Being Witheringly Impolite

Posted 2017/07/21 1858 0

The critics condemn Dunkirk for historical inaccuracy.


Acclaimed by most French critics, Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” swept away the competition at its first early afternoon screenings in Paris, as it made its commercial bow in one of its first major territories abroad. Tickets sold — 3,145 at 35 locations in the French capital — were nearly three times those for No. 2 release, Sony Pictures Releasing’s “Baby Driver,” according to website However, it may struggle to maintain its box office foothold in France, particularly after a prominent film critic slammed the film for largely ignoring the French involvement in the battle.

French newspaper Le Monde has criticised it in no uncertain terms for what it sees as historical inaccuracies and the erasure of France and Dunkirk itself from the narrative. Critic Jacques Mandelbaum accused the director of being "witheringly impolite" and "indifferent" toward the role the French played in the evacuation of Allied troops, writing: “No one can deny a director’s right to focus his point of view on what he sees fit, as long as it does not deny the reality of which it claims to represent.

"Where in the film are the 120,000 French soldiers who were also evacuated from Dunkirk? Where are the 40,000 who sacrificed themselves to defend the city against a superior enemy in weaponry and numbers?"

All the main characters in the film are British, with Mandelbaum noting that there are only "a dozen seconds devoted to a group of French soldiers defending the city who were not very friendly and a few more to a French soldier disguised as British in order to try to flee the massacre."

Finally, he asks "where is Dunkirk itself?", Nolan having chosen to set the film almost entirely on the beaches and ocean.

HuffPost France have also joined in with the criticism, claiming that Dunkirk's erasure of French sacrifice in the event is an example of typical British behaviour.

"Anglo-Saxons have an unpleasant tendency to put forward the feats of the British army and pass over those of the French army," claimed journalist Gary Assouline.

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

Dunkirk is written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.