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Before Dunkirk there was Weekend at Dunkirk starring Jean Paul Belmondo #book2movies

My brother and I were sharing our mutual enjoyment of the film Dunkirk directed by Christopher Nolan today—I've been chatting up Nolan's The Prestige over the last couple of days—and he told me that back in the 1960's there was a French language take on the historical incident: Week-end à Zuydcoote (Weekend at Dunkirk) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Spaak. 

The film is based on the 1949 novel of the same name by Robert Merle, and won France's highest literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. The story of a small group out of the thousands of French soldiers stuck on the coast along with the Brits as the Germans close in on all sides, the book is available in English language translation.

While it looks as though the film captures the grimness of that day—400,000 men left on the beach like sitting ducks—it also appears to have some light moments. Including a female lead (Catherine Spaak) who gets to be slapped around as well as share some affectionate and sexual moments with Belmondo.

 It is a 1960's French film, and it is Belmondo, and while I can do without the violence, I'd be disappointed if I didn't get a little male/female interaction. Did I mention the movie stars Jean Paul Belmondo?

It's been noted that Nolan can be excused for the lack of women in Dunkirk — there are a few nurses, tea ladies, even a couple of civilian boat captains but they are mostly glorified background actors. For the British director, the push pull of the male/female dynamic was not what his movie was about.

Dunkirk (2017): No sex please, we're British

I found a trailer for Weekend at Dunkirk (Week end a Zuydcoote)—sadly sans English subtitles—but I don't think you need them to get the gist of what's going on. A small group of French soldiers going through hell and trying to decide whether to evacuate with the British or stay and fight the Germans—which would mean almost certain death. The British faced no similar moral dilemmas. France, after all, was not their country.

I'd love to see the movie but it's not easy to find—more easily in France, I would imagine—but try EBay here in the states.

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