Discover the real locations from the film Dunkirk
- Credit: Archant
Christopher Nolan’s big-budget action film Dunkirk is up for eight Oscars at next month’s awards. Here are the Dunkirk locations to look out for when watching the film...
Big-budget action film Dunkirk tells of the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 of more than 330,000 Allied troops, under heavy fire from German forces, in just nine days during Operation Dynamo. Described by the director, Christopher Nolan, as “not a war film, but a survival story”, it features an all-star cast (Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh). The film was a big hit when it was released in July 2017 and has been nominated for eight Oscars. Much of the movie was filmed in the exact spots where Operation Dynamo took place and the Dunkirk tourist office have launched several tours which follow the trail of the film.
Rue Belle Rade
The film opens on Rue Belle Rade with a young British soldier running for his life, trying to escape being shot and sheltering behind a street barricade held by French soldiers. Located just off Dunkirk’s seafront in the Malo-les-Bains area of the city, the sleepy street is lined with colourful residential houses. Many of the buildings in Dunkirk were destroyed by wartime bombardment, so a lot if the street scenes in the film were shot in Malo-les-Bains. The streets look exactly like they do in the film – except for the cars!
Of course much of the film takes place on Dunkirk beach; the 10-mile stretch of sand where French and English troops were trapped and evacuated from in 1940. In the film, there are thousands of troops waiting lining the beach to be rescued. On an ordinary day, with only walkers and children making sandcastles, you can appreciate just how vulnerable and open to attack the soldiers must have been waiting on Dunkirk’s vast sandy plains.
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East Mole is a long, stone and wooden jetty which played a very important role in Operation Dynamo – this is where many of the soldiers were evacuated from, clambering on boats that could not get ashore. The jetty was made from concrete and was only partly destroyed by the Germans so it was used until the end of the evacuation. You can see the breakwater in the film with Kenneth Branagh overseeing the evacuation of the soldiers. Part of the jetty was rebuilt and then taken apart again straight after shooting.
Princess Elizabeth is one of the many ‘little ships’ that took part in Operation Dynamo. The paddle steamer sailed four times from England to Dunkirk and rescued 1,673 soldiers in total. A replica can be seen in the film coming to rescue the soldiers but the real ship has now been transformed into a tearoom and restaurant where you can order from a 1940s-themed menu.
Other places in Dunkirk to visit are...
The British Memorial and Cemetery
The impressive British Memorial commemorates the memory of the 4,528 soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force who died during 1940 and who have no known grave. Next to the memorial is a cemetery of 810 graves of British soldiers. Most of them were killed defending the perimeter of Dunkirk during the evacuation operations in May-June 1940.
The Shipwrecks of Dunkirk
During Operation Dynamo, many ships were bombed and beached on the sands along the coast. When the tides are low, you can see the wrecks of the Devonia or Crested Eagle between Zuydcoote and Bray-Dunes.
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