The German troops cut off the British and the French forces forcing them to the coast with their backs to the sea. Four hundred thousand men were trapped to either die on the beach or drown in the sea. The Brits were almost close enough to see their homeland but doomed with no way to escape. This was one of the battles in WWII years before Pearl Harbor and the United States entered the war.
Christopher Nolan, the director, filmed the project using large cameras and for the best possible viewing, IMax is the way to see it. It seems crazy to say it beautiful but it was with one amazing image after another. There is little to no character development, little to no dialogue which was very difficult to hear and understand due to the music and thick British accents. There is death but no blood or gore. One desperate soldier walks into the sea to commit suicide during a lull in the bombing.
There are heroes, bravery, friendship, courage, and hope for freedom all understood without a word. Nolan creates the story by creating images on the screen.
My recommendation is an enthusiastic * * * * * . Academy Award winner? Well at least a nomination !