11. Dunkirk – George’s Death
Surprisingly, of the many deaths in Christopher Nolan’s war epic, the most emotional wasn’t that of a soldier but George – the young deckhand who joins Mr Dawson and his son Peter aboard the Moonstone on their rescue mission to Dunkirk, and dies after sustaining a head injury in a fall accidentally caused by Cillian Murphy’s nameless shell-shocked soldier.
After a concussed George confesses to Peter that his main reason for accompanying them was to make his dad and schoolteachers proud he passes away without fanfare, marked only by rescued soldier Alex (a surprisingly good Harry Styles) remarking “He’s dead, mate”. Though not a soldier, George is the embodiment of many young conscripts heading to war fuelled by adventure and patriotism only to die a largely senseless but nonetheless heroic death.
That’s heart-wrenching enough, but the effect George’s death has on Murphy’s stricken soldier adds another emotional layer. Though Peter and his father lie and tell him George is fine, the soldier sees his body being carried away after they’re safely back on British soil – yet another battle scar for an already very damaged man to bear.