Dunkirk

Dunkirk (2017)

26 mistakes

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Deliberate mistake: The me-109 have painted yellow fronts, this wasn't done by the Germans until after Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan has admitted doing this deliberately so the audience could tell the difference between the spitfire and the me-109 during the combat scenes.

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Factual error: In the scene towards the start of the film in Weymouth harbour, you can see the huge building which is Weymouth Pavilion, which was built in 1954, after the original 1909 building burnt down.

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freedom2006

Factual error: When the returned soldiers are on the train at the end of the film, it's an open plan post-war British Rail Mark I type, which where built from around 1950. Also the blue upholstery on the seats looks to be the corporate blue introduced by British Rail in the 1960s, used by the preserved railway owning the stock, and not what would have featured in Southern Railway carriages of the time. The carriages also have horizontally-sliding windows, which are far more contemporary than wartime trains, which had windows with a much larger vertical opening, held in place by a leather strap.

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Revealing mistake: The ship set up for the capsize scene is supposedly mid channel and heading for England when it is bombed by the Heinkel, but it is at anchor.

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stephp38

Factual error: The sea often changes state from shot to shot. One minute we've got a reasonable Force 4 blowing and some surf, the next it's 'sea like a mirror' and then there's everything between.

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Other mistake: In the scene at the end where Farrier gazes upon his burning Spitfire on the beach, the propeller appears to be supported at the end of a simple rod. In fact the propeller would have been attached to a rather solid engine. There's also no internal structure - the entire spitfire was reduced to ashes which was impossible as this was a metal aircraft. Unlike the Wellington, Mosquito or Hurricane which were partly timber and canvas.

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andyK

Factual error: In several scenes, but notably very near the end, the background shows numerous container handling cranes, which weren't invented until the mid sixties.

00:51:40

Victor Meldrew

Continuity mistake: When the Stukas are shown bombing the beach, they drop a single bomb, but from beach level, you see sticks of bombs landing.

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freedom2006
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Suggested correction: The Stukas are dropping SD-2 canister bombs, a particularly nasty anti-personnel weapon. Upon release from the aircraft the bomb divided into the bomblets you see here.

First known use was bombing of England, no evidence they were used at Dunkirk. Also, the SD-2 was smaller and produced numerous small explosions. The ones we see in Dunkirk are larger and much bigger than anything the little SD-2 could ever produce - so the original criticism sticks.

Deliberate mistake: Christopher Nolan admits he used a French destroyer instead of a British destroyer, for practical purposes (most people won't notice). The giveaway is that it has a closed bridge. British warships were built with open bridges till after the end of the Second World War, as can be seen by looking at HMS Cavalier (http://thedockyard.co.uk/explore/three-historic-warships/hms-cavalier/), which was built in 1944.

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Factual error: There are a number of scenes of the buildings along the coast where TV aerials are visible.

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Demmedelusive

Factual error: Near the start of the film in the harbour when the camera pans around to the left looking out to sea, you can see the back of the modern Weymouth Lifeboat 17-32 moored up in the background.

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Factual error: When the boat returns to England they state the cliffs are Dorset. There were 3 evacuation routes from Dunkirk - all to Kent. It would be nonsense to sail from Dunkirk to Dorset as you have to almost pass Dover on the way! (never mind the fact the boat would probably not have made it without refuelling).

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Anthorin

Other mistake: When the pilot of the Spitfire is shown ditching into the water, his engine is windmilling at high RPM as he impacts the water. This would have resulted in all of the prop blade tips being bent backwards; however, as it shows him trying to escape the sinking airplane, the prop blades are perfectly straight.

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Factual error: In the silent overfly of the plane that ran out of fuel in the background you see a lot of modern architecture that is definitely not from the 1940s.

01:30:15

Factual error: Not until the very end of the 10-day evacuation were the French (or British for that matter) defending the very beaches themselves, and yet the movie opens with the French roadblock doing just that.

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Suggested correction: While it is true the main German assault did not occur until near the end of the evacuation, what we see in the movie actually fits quite well with what really occurred. As the German Army approached, the French Army began to build defenses and roadblocks in and around Dunkirk, as well as within the city itself. The amount of gunfire we hear (just a few small arms shooting) at the beginning of the movie is indicative of a chance encounter between a German and a British patrol. While preparing for the final assault on Dunkirk, the Germans would be sending in scouting patrols to see what defenses were built and where they were located.

Firstly a scouting patrol would not open fire and give their presence away. Then the British patrol would not flee throwing away their weapons as they would know the city to be in Allied control with lots of Allied troops around. Barricades across the roads leading to the beach would obstruct Allied soldiers access to the beach, barricades would only be put up at the last moment and only to obstruct the Germans. The period is at least a week before the evacuation was completed, so the German army was miles away and there would be hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers in and around Dunkirk. I am sorry but I had the distinct impression the Germans were only a short distance from the beach.

Having both studied and taught military history, within the military, for over 40 years, with particular emphasis on World War Two, in my expert opinion, what we see occur at the beginning of the movie is completely within the realm of factual history. Demoralized British troops have an unexpected encounter with advanced German troops entering Dunkirk ahead of the main attack to come; the Germans open fire with small arms; the demoralized British troops scatter in panic without resisting. Once it became apparent to the French they would be making a last stand defense at Dunkirk, the French did in fact begin preparing defenses. They would have been derelict not to have done so. While what we see in the skirmish at the beginning of the movie can't be pinned down to any actual engagement, it is plausible enough to be a factual representation of what occurred in and around Dunkirk at that time.

One of the things the film doesn't show is that in reality the town would have been heavily bomb damaged.

Character mistake: The story arc set on the Mole covers one week. The Highlanders attempt to refloat the beached trawler on the last day of that week. One of them confidently states that the tides are three-hourly. (The audience know this isn't true because we've seen a similar conversation between the Admiral and the Colonel.) At least some - if not all - of those Tommies have been on the beach all week. Have none of them have noticed that the tides are six-hourly?

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Factual error: One of the dams in or around Dunkirk has a foundation made of tetrapods. These concrete structures were developed in the 50s, according to wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrapod_ (structure)).

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Other mistake: In a scene where the commanding marine officer stands on the mole in a close-up shot, black smoke is rising from sky out of nowhere. Looks like the FX guys forgot to delete the particle effect after deciding to not show a boat with its exhausts in the background.

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Factual error: Velux windows were invented in German occupied Denmark in 1941. When burying a soldier on the beach, you can see them installed into French houses in 1940.

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Matthew Haynes

Revealing mistake: In some of the shots where multiple British soldiers are together, most have their rifles (Short Magazine Lee Enfield, No. 1 Mk 3) slung or are holding them. Some of the rifles are dummy, toy rifles that look nothing like the Enfield and are just to stand in.

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Matdan97

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