Christopher Nolan shot his film with impeccable historical accuracy.

World War II was a huge era of film productivity for the world for purposes of propaganda and documentation. WWI simply didn’t have the technology as the following conflict, so WWII’s huge amount of cinematic output was a first.

What that means for filmmakers today is that when making a film about WWII, particularly a specific location and time period of the war, like in director Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, they have plenty of reference material. Dunkirk, as a recent example, knows its history well.

Edited by Titouan Ropert, this video essay takes footage from WWII archives, libraries, and journalistic on-the-ground documentaries to compare to Nolan’s wartime epic. The results are moving, thrilling, and generally startling to realize just how much of Nolan’s jittery heart-stopper was ripped from the realities of the men and women fighting in Europe.