Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan’s epic about the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force along with allied French and other troops is earning acclaim among both critics and audiences. However, that does not mean that the praise is universal or without caveats. A USA Today critic made the curious point that the film lacked a lot of women characters and had no high profile people of color, despite the fact that such were few, if any, during the battle. Now, according to the UK Sunday Times, it is the turn of the French to complain.

The French were at Dunkirk too

The massive seaborne operation to pluck hundreds of thousands of men from certain death at the hands of the German Army was made possible, in part, due to the sacrifice of French troops that held off the Germans and kept them from overrunning the ever shrinking enclave.

However, French film critics and historians are complaining that these brave men are nowhere to be found in the movie, which is apparently an affront to France.

History vs. Hollywood

Even when a film based on historical events strives to have some accuracy, some things are inevitably sacrificed for the purposes of drama. That fact doesn’t mean that complaints are not forthcoming. Some of these are quite absurd, as when a retired NASA flight director once groused that the third character from the left in 1995’s "Apollo 13" looked nothing like him.

Also, an event of the sweep and scale of a World War II battle like Dunkirk cannot have every little detail compressed into a two-hour movie. A film director must pick and choose.

If the heroics of one group or another gets left out, then that is just too bad. Steven Spielberg got similar kind of grief when some critics pointed out that the heroics of a team of African American medics were left out of his classic “Saving Private Ryan.”

How was the movie?

By all accounts, Nolan has a winner in “Dunkirk” and a sure bet for Oscar nominations, if not wins.

Some critics noted that the director does not spend a lot of time on character development, preferring instead to focus on the action in three interrelated narratives that take place on land, in the sea, and in the air. Some have also noted the conspicuous absence of one Winston Churchill, the newly appointed prime minister of Great Britain, whose leadership was so crucial in that country’s trials in that pivotal year of 1940.

Still, on balance, the reaction to “Dunkirk” has been overwhelmingly positive, with Nolan getting credit for putting his stamp on the genre of the war movie.

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