Opinion

After You See “Dunkirk” Watch This Film to See What Was Missing

My wife and I saw Dunkirk last night. I promised my son that I would not say if we liked it or didn’t like it. So you won’t find any spoilers here. Well, maybe one.

There was one thing the film left out. No, it wasn’t the fact there weren’t many women or minorities, as one numbskull protested. It was the response of the nation as a whole — the unseen masses whose fate was in the hands of the army, navy, and air force. Of course, not everything can be put in a film as grand and sweeping as Dunkirk, but this missing item was a biggie.

When Britain was close to defeat during the 2nd World War, and the entire British Army was trapped at Dunkirk, in desperation George 6th called for a National Day of Prayer to be held on 26th May 1940. In a national broadcast he instructed the people of the UK to turn back to God in a spirit of repentance and plead for Divine help.  Millions of people across the British Isles flocked into churches praying for deliverance and this photograph [see below] shows the extraordinary scene outside Westminster Abbey as people queued for prayer.

Two events immediately followed.

Firstly, a violent storm arose over the Dunkirk region grounding the Luftwaffe which had been killing thousands on the beaches.

And then secondly, a great calm descended on the Channel, the like of which hadn’t been seen for a generation, which allowed hundreds of tiny boats to sail across and rescue 335,000 soldiers, rather than the estimated 20-30,000. From then on people referred to what happened as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”  Sunday June 9th was officially appointed as a Day of National Thanksgiving. (Anglican Ink)

The Scene Outside Westminster Abbey as People Gather for Prayer

The author of the above article goes on to state that something has changed in Great Britain, and I might add, the rest of the world:

It almost seems to be a different country. Sadly, since the end of the War, Britain has largely rejected the moral Laws of God which are clearly stated in Scripture.  In Psalm 107:34 it warns “a fruitful nation will become impoverished because of the wickedness of its people” and in Proverbs 14:34 it adds “Righteousness will exalt a nation, but wickedness will destroy a people.”

What’s true of Great Britain is true of the United States. Both nations are rotting from the inside. It’s not too late, but we need to act now before the moral cancer metastasizes. Politics will not save us. This does not mean that we should abandon the sphere of civil government. We should double our efforts to rein in its god-like policies and neutralize those who believe they are political gods who have a right to reign over us. It also means that we must not appeal to the State for sustenance. The salvific political genie needs to be put back in its bottle and thrown into the deepest part of the ocean.

This brings me to the film you should watch after you see Dunkirk. It takes place during the same period of time and includes the Dunkirk small boat launch and rescue. In some ways, the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver (nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won six) is similar to Dunkirk but not as grand in scope and technical mastery but just as heart rending if not more so. It’s a story that is character-driven and delivers an emotional punch. It stars Greer Carson, Walter Pigeon, and the always lovely Teresa Wright.1   It’s been described as “the film that Goebbels feared.”What was happing on the homefront?

It asks the question, What was happing on the homefront?

The following is what’s missing from Dunkirk:

A scene near the end – in which a vicar delivers a sermon in a bombed-out church – was rewritten by [director William] Wyler and Henry Wilcoxon, the actor playing the vicar, the night before it was filmed. President Roosevelt requested that it be translated into several languages and air-dropped over German-occupied territory; it was also reprinted in Time and Look magazines.

We in this quiet corner of England have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us, some close to this church. George West, choirboy. James Ballard, stationmaster and bellringer, and the proud winner only an hour before his death of the Beldon Cup for his beautiful Miniver Rose. And our hearts go out in sympathy to the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago. The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There’s scarcely a household that hasn’t been struck to the heart. And why? Surely you must have asked yourselves this question? Why in all conscience should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness? Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed?

I shall tell you why. Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is the war of the people, of all the people. And it must be fought not only on the battlefield but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home and in the heart of every man, woman and child who loves freedom. Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves, and those who come after us, from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. This is the People’s War. It is our war. We are the fighters. Fight it then. Fight it with all that is in us. And may God defend the right.

There is almost nothing of value to defend today. There are no ultimate values since there is no God to grant them. Everything is in flux as everything is being redefined for what is only valuable for the individual. God’s moral order has been replaced with a moral sickness where killing unborn babies is a Leftist sacrament, homosexuality is celebrated with “pride,” gender fluidity is a State-sanctioned right, and Christians are derided, persecuted, and sued for opposing the festering disease.

What the clip does not show is a people “united in shared grief” who rise and “stoically sing ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers,’ while through a gaping hole in the bombed church roof can be seen flight after flight of RAF fighters in the V-for-Victory formation heading out to face the enemy.”

The review in Look magazine commented, “The most important motion picture to come out of this war hasn’t a single battle in it.”

One other item was missing, something I just learned as I was writing this article. As the 350,000+ British Expeditionary Force soldiers were stranded at Dunkirk on the beach and sitting ducks for German planes, and “when it seemed certain that the Allied forces at Dunkirk were about to be massacred, a British naval officer cabled just three words back to London: ‘But if not.’” In our day, most people would scratch their heads asking, “What does that mean?” In a day when people knew the Bible, they knew its source and exactly what it meant: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, let it be known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Dan. 3:17-18).

But if not.” These words were instantly recognizable to the people who were accustomed to hearing the scriptures read in church. They knew the story told in the book of Daniel. The message in those three little words was clear: The situation was desperate. The allied forces were trapped. It would take a miracle to save them, but they were determined not to give in. One simple three word phrase communicated all that.”

You can draw your own lessons.

  1. Wright starred in Pride of the Yankees opposite Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig’s wife, The Best Years of Our Lives, and in the Hitchcock thriller Shadow of Doubt with Joseph Cotton. She was almost unrecognizable as Miss Birdie in John Grisham’s The Rainmaker (1997). []
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