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DUNKIRK - British Railway Movie Database

DUNKIRK

GB
2017
1hr 46mins
Dir: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Kenneth Brannagh and Cillian Murphy

The story of the Dunkirk evacuation told through three inter-connected perspectives

This war drama of critical acclaim is said to be a generally realistic representation of the historical evacuation. The narrative follows three different but overlapping periods: on land covering one week, on the sea covering one day, and in the air covering one hour. Whereas the one day and one hour sequences worked nicely it was the one week on land that seemed to be the weak link. Nonetheless Dunkirk was a worthy addition to a now common theme. There are some railway scenes at the end that were filmed on the Swanage Railway with the Weymouth Quay Tramway also putting in a brief appearance. Although it seems that quite a bit of footage was filmed at Swanage station, most of the scenes in the completed film were onboard a train, with the station only appearing outside the carriage windows. As mentioned, the film was considered to be a realistic enough portrayal of the Dunkirk evacuations. The production crew went to great lengths to get the right type of aircraft and depict the right type of boat but for a film that took accuracy so seriously it seems a big shame that this did not extend to the railway scenes. Yet again the profligate use of railways and the belief that ‘any old train will do’ seems to suffice. All the coaching stock that featured was of the BR Mk.1 design introduced from 1951, yet enough period coaching stock from the era would have been available for use. Why this should be considered acceptable in nearly every case is beyond the author’s knowledge. Incidentally, the two-disc special edition DVD features a number of behind the scenes featurettes, one of which The Dunkirk Spirit, features a number of interesting shots of filming taking place at Swanage station.

The first railway scene to appear in the film shows war weary soldiers walking along a railway line towards a waiting train. This is the approach to Swanage station
Harry Styles looks out of the carriage window as the train arrives into Swanage station (said to be Woking in the film).
Tom Glynn-Carney walks towards the offices of the Weymouth Herald, in reality the Weymouth Harbour Masters office on the Old Quay. The tracks of the Weymouth Quay Tramway are clearly visible in the road surface. Note the period road vehicles, easy enough to recreate.
This is a fine shot taken from The Dunkirk Spirit featurette. It shows soldiers lining up on the tracks outside Swanage station. The coach to the far right with the open door is Bulleid semi-open Brake Third No.4365 (part of set 298). Although older than the Mk.1 stock used and apparently looking more appropriate for a scene in a war film, it was not built until 1948!
Another excellent shot from The Dunkirk Spirit shows a camera crew at work beneath Northbrook Road bridge, Swanage.