Dunkirk may be an extraordinarily bleak movie, even by Nolan standards, but it has the odd moments.
- In the opening sequence, Tommy tries to find a place to take a dump in Dunkirk but was forced to hold it in to escape a German ambush. After arriving at the beach, he once again tries to find a place to relieve himself, only to find Gibson burying a fellow soldier nearby. In fact, we never find out if Tommy ever did get to take a dump at any point in the the entire movie. It's fairly amusing, and subtly defiant, that the typical British soldier's response to the German leaflets demanding surrender is to collect them to use as toilet paper.
- During the beginning of the Air sequence, Fortis Leader gets off some subtle snark when briefing his wingmen.Collins: Dunkirk's so far; why can't they just load at Calais?
Fortis Leader: The enemy had something to say about it.
- Commander Bolton tells the survivors of the wrecked hospital ship that they'll be on the next one. Tommy and Gibson, who were watching from the Mole, quickly dunk themselves in water to make it look like they were on board as well. Alex gives them a wry "well-done" smile in response to this.
- A darkly humorous one: after surviving their ship being sunk, Tommy and Alex come across a boat commanded by Cillian Murphy's character, who tells them to remain calm, Alex gives him an indignant reply:Alex: Calm?! Wait 'til you get torpedoed, then tell us to be calm!
- Harsher in Hindsight, as that is precisely what happened to him.
- When Gibson is accused of being a German spy, Alex gets off this line:Alex: He doesnt speak English. If he does, its with an accent that's thicker than sauerkraut sauce!
- Towards the end, a British soldier on the mole wakes up to find himself alone—except for Commander Bolton and Colonel Winnant. Bolton urges him to the last boat with this line:Commander Bolton: I know we're officers; but it's us or the enemy, so now's not the time to be particular.
- Bolton points out "Churchill got his 30,000 [evacuees]... and then some". The initial estimated numbers of possible evacuations in Operation Dynamo were in the vicinity of 30,000-40,000. More than 300,000 men were evacuated in the end.
- Alex, on the train once back home, sees a group of boys at a newspaper stand at a stop. The annoyed then resigned look of one of the paperboys sells it.Alex: Bring me one of them papers!
- The civilian at the train stop passing bottles of beer through the train windows, which Alex (previously unable to face the public) gladly takes.
- Commander Bolton tells Colonel Winnant that the tide will come in six hours. Winnant responds that he thought it was in every three:Bolton: Then it's good that you're army and I'm navy, isn't it?
- Quickly becomes a dark Brick Joke when Tommy, Gibson and Highlanders run towards an abandoned trawler and one of them gives the same answer as Army officer.
- At one point in the movie, there's a shot of Commander Bolton turning around, with the only sound being the ominous soundtrack. With no immediate danger obvious, his expression makes it look like he's about to demand to know who's playing that music. Then the Little Ships arrive, turning it into a heartwarming moment.
- When Collins is rescued from drowning, his response is to give Peter a casual "Afternoon".
- In this video, we learn that Nolan never asked Fionn and Harry if they liked bread and jam (for the scene on the second ship). What do they say?Fionn: I used to love jam, and after that [scene], I will never touch it again.
Harry: No one told me about the spit bucket until it was way too late.
- In this Film Society of London video, one guy asked Chris about how the idea for Dunkirk was pitched. "I want to make this film about an event that most Americans have never heard of." Chris's response?Chris: I...yeah, I didn't pitch it like that, Jesus...
[Everyone else laughs.]
- Harry Styles was interviewed about cutting his famous long hair for the role. The interviewer makes it sound like the haircut was a big bombshell that was dropped on him, and Harry tartly replies that he "had a feeling" when he auditioned for a film set in World War II that a haircut would probably be required.