In Dunkirk, hope is more than a weapon.
- Gibson saving Tommy and Alex when their ship is sunk. Tommy later returns the favour. When Gibson is being held at gunpoint by frightened British soldiers who suspect him of being The Mole (he's actually French), Tommy tries to defuse the situation, in part by pointing out that Gibson saved their lives. And when the trawler is sinking and the soldiers trapped inside swim for it, Alex, one of the last to leave, pats an unaware Gibson and lets him know they're leaving. Gibson dies anyway, but considering how Alex was willing to throw him under the bus before, this little act counts as Character Development.
- Alex: Gibson! Leave it!
- The brave Little Ships, including the Moonstone, eventually make it to the beach of Dunkirk, allowing for a greater number of soldiers to be evacuated. "Home" finally came for them. When pressed, Mr. Dawson notes that it's men his age who made the choice to send young men off to war, it's only right he risk his life to get them back. There's a wonderful little detail in the shots of the Little Ships coming in. If you look carefully, you can see both naval officers and civilian sailors manning them. While Dawson is the symbol of the brave civilians who helped in the evacuation, the shot still shows sailors and civilians working together to rescue their countrymen.
- Bolton sees off Winnant and the last remaining British soldiers off from the mole. Why?Bolton: I'm staying. For the French.
- As the soldiers finally make it home, a blind old man waits by the pier, handing out warm blankets and saying "Well done!" to every soldier that files by.Alex: All we did is survive.
Old Man: That's enough.
- Along the rest of their trip, they're welcomed as heroes, with the country being glad that its boys will live to fight another day. The soldiers clearly expect to be criticized for losing France to the Germans, but not one British citizen shown is anything but grateful that their young men are home.
- "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted."
- Back on solid ground, Collins steps on a dock, and a tired, angry soldier yells at him, "Where the hell were you?". Mr. Dawson reassuringly pats him on the shoulder, points to the soldiers on the Dawsons' boat he helped rescue and says, "They know where you were." Before that, shortly after being rescued himself, Collins assures Peter that he did his best to treat George.Collins: I'm sorry, son, I really don't know. You're right not moving him. [Beat, looks at Peter] You've done the best for him you can.
- Though the circumstances of his death are a Tear Jerker, a local newspaper celebrates George as a hero of Dunkirk at the end of the movie.
- "We shall fight on the beaches."
- Tommy and Alex, exhausted and filthy on the train ride back from their landing in England, flinch away from a man who knocks on the window because they assume they're going to be verbally abused for being cowards who failed in their duties to repel the German onslaught. Instead, the man reaches in the window and hands them two beers to welcome them home. Alex then peeks out the window...to see an entire crowd of people cheering them.
- When George and Peter wonder whether the Shivering Soldier's actions mean he's a coward, Mr. Dawson firmly informs them that he's shell-shocked and deeply traumatised, and that how he's acting probably isn't an indication of who he really is. Whenever he talks to the soldier, even after the soldier accidentally causes George to be injured, he's never less than calm and respectful to him.
- When Alex (still slick in oil) finds a dead George below decks and lets Peter know, the poor teen just tells him to "be bloody careful with him". Alex takes the time to gently move George's body, and another soldier helps him cover George with a blanket.
- A 97-year-old veteran of the actual Dunkirk evacuation watched the film and was moved to tears by how accurate it was and how it brought back memories of the event.
- Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles, the actors behind Tommy and Alex, have become good friends over the course of filming, as various interviews show.
- During the aftermath of the various hurricanes in the United States in 2017, the coast guard called upon civilian boat owners to assist in rescue efforts of those trapped by flood waters. Countless boat owners answered this call, citing this film as an inspiration. In other words, they were moved by an example. As Bruce Wayne once put it, "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy".