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Simon Heffer celebrates one of the last and best-loved films of the post World War Two era - Dunkirk - made in 1958 when the novelty and charm of the genre had nearly worn off.

Plucky British Tommies, uncomplaining civilians with stiff upper lips and a determination to "make do and mend", heroic officers with cut-glass accents, not to mention merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but Simon Heffer is passionate about them and believes they deserve to be taken seriously even today.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In this fifth and final programme, Simon Heffer considers one of the last and best-loved films of this era - Dunkirk - which was made in 1958 when the novelty and charm of the genre had almost worn off.

Dunkirk is always seen as the defeat which contained the seeds of victory. Simon Heffer explores the film both as celebration of a moment when the courage and determination of the armed forces and civilians were splendidly proved and also as a dark foreshadowing of post-war disappointments.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

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15 minutes


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