The Story Behind Dunkirk: A Comprehensive Guide to Nolan's Epic Film
The Making of Dunkirk: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Christopher Nolan's Epic War Film
Dunkirk is one of the most acclaimed and successful films of the 21st century. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film tells the story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, during World War II. The film is a stunning achievement of cinematic storytelling, combining thrilling action, emotional drama, and historical accuracy. But how did Nolan make this masterpiece? What inspired him to tackle this subject? How did he overcome the challenges of filming on land, sea, and air? And what impact did his film have on the world? If you are a fan of Dunkirk or Nolan, or if you are interested in learning more about the art and craft of filmmaking, you will love this book. The Making of Dunkirk is a comprehensive and fascinating guide to the creation of one of the most remarkable films ever made. It covers every aspect of the production process, from conception to reception, and reveals the secrets behind Nolan's vision and methods. In this article, we will give you a preview of what you can expect from this book. We will explore some of the main themes and messages of Dunkirk, as well as some of the key steps and decisions that Nolan took to bring his film to life. We will also look at how Dunkirk was received by audiences and critics, and how it influenced culture and history. By reading this article, you will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Dunkirk and Nolan's work. You will also be inspired to download the book and dive into more details and insights about this extraordinary film. The Production Process
Dunkirk was not an easy film to make. It required a lot of research, planning, coordination, innovation, and dedication from Nolan and his team. Here are some of the highlights of how they made it happen. How did Nolan conceive and write the script?
Nolan had been interested in making a film about Dunkirk since he was a teenager. He first learned about it from his father, who gave him a book called The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. The book is a fictional story about a girl who sends a snow goose to help a wounded soldier during the evacuation. Nolan was fascinated by the idea of telling a story from multiple perspectives and timelines. He also wanted to capture the sense of suspense and survival that characterized Dunkirk. He decided to write his own script based on his research and imagination. He wrote his first draft in 2015, after finishing Interstellar. He wanted to keep his script as simple and concise as possible. He used only 76 pages, which is very short for a feature-length film. He also avoided using dialogue as much as possible, relying instead on visual storytelling. He structured his script around three parallel narratives: one on land, one on sea, and one on air. Each narrative had a different time span: one week, one day, and one hour, respectively. He also used a non-linear approach, intercutting between the narratives and creating a complex and immersive chronology. He named his script Dunkirk, after the location of the event. He wanted to emphasize the importance of the place and the people, rather than the politics or the war. How did he choose the cast and crew?
Nolan assembled a talented and diverse cast and crew for his film. He wanted to work with people who shared his vision and passion, and who could deliver high-quality results. He chose his longtime collaborators for some of the key roles behind the camera. He hired Hoyte van Hoytema as his cinematographer, Nathan Crowley as his production designer, Lee Smith as his editor, and Hans Zimmer as his composer. He also brought back some of his regular actors, such as Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine (who had a voice cameo). He also cast some new faces for his film. He wanted to have a mix of experienced and inexperienced actors, to reflect the reality of Dunkirk. He hired some well-known stars, such as Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and James D'Arcy. He also hired some newcomers, such as Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, and Aneurin Barnard. He auditioned thousands of young actors for the roles of the soldiers on the beach. He wanted to find actors who looked authentic and believable, and who could convey emotion without words. He was impressed by Whitehead's naturalism and charisma, and by Styles' charisma and intensity. He also liked Barnard's vulnerability and intelligence. He gave each actor a copy of his script, but he asked them not to share it with anyone else. He wanted to keep his film as secretive as possible, to avoid spoilers and leaks. He also asked them not to read any books or watch any films about Dunkirk, to avoid being influenced by other sources. He wanted them to rely on his script and his direction. How did he shoot the film in three different formats?
Nolan is known for his preference for using film over digital cameras. He believes that film offers a superior image quality and a more immersive experience for the viewers. He also likes to use different formats and aspect ratios for different scenes, to create contrast and variety. For Dunkirk, he decided to use three different formats: IMAX 70mm, 65mm, and Super Panavision 70mm. He wanted to use the best format for each narrative, depending on the scale and scope of the action. He used IMAX 70mm for the air scenes, because it offered the widest field of view and the highest resolution. He used 65mm for the sea scenes, because it offered a rich color palette and a deep focus. He used Super Panavision 70mm for the land scenes, because it offered a classic look and a cinematic feel. He also used different aspect ratios for each format: 1.43:1 for IMAX 70mm, 2.20:1 for 65mm, and 2.76:1 for Super Panavision 70mm. He wanted to create a dynamic visual language that changed according to the narrative. He shot most of his film on location, using real settings and props. He filmed in Dunkirk itself, as well as in other locations in France, England, Holland, and California. He used real boats, planes, cars, trains, and weapons from the period. He also used thousands of extras, many of whom were local volunteers or veterans. He shot his film chronologically, following the order of his script. He wanted to maintain continuity and consistency throughout his film. He also wanted to give his actors a sense of progression and development. He shot his film in only 62 days, which is very fast for a film of this scale and complexity. He wanted to work efficiently and effectively, without wasting time or money. He also wanted to avoid bad weather or other complications that could delay or disrupt his production. How did he recreate the historical events and locations?
Nolan is known for his realism and accuracy in his films. He likes to use practical effects over computer-generated effects whenever possible. He believes that practical effects offer a more realistic and tangible result for the viewers. For Dunkirk, he wanted to recreate the historical events and locations as faithfully as possible. He wanted to honor the history and the people who lived through it. He did extensive research on Dunkirk before making his film. He read books, articles, documents, maps, photos, videos, interviews, testimonies, diaries, letters, etc. He consulted with historians, experts, consultants, and advisers on various aspects of Dunkirk. a feel for the atmosphere and the history. He also wanted to scout for locations and plan his shots. He recreated some of the key scenes and moments from Dunkirk in his film. He used real boats and planes from the period, such as the Little Ships, the Spitfires, and the Messerschmitts. He also used real explosives and pyrotechnics to simulate the bombings and the gunfire. He also recreated some of the key landmarks and buildings from Dunkirk in his film. He used the actual mole (the long pier where the soldiers lined up to board the ships), the actual beach (where the soldiers waited and fought), and the actual town (where some of the civilians lived and helped). He also recreated some of the key characters and personalities from Dunkirk in his film. He used some of the real names and ranks of the people who were involved in Dunkirk, such as Commander Bolton, Captain Winnant, Mr. Dawson, George Mills, etc. He also used some of the real stories and anecdotes of the people who were involved in Dunkirk, such as the soldier who buried his friend on the beach, the pilot who landed on the water and was rescued by a boat, etc. He also added some fictional elements to his film, to enhance his storytelling and artistic expression. He created some fictional characters and situations, such as Tommy, Gibson, Alex, Farrier, Collins, etc. He also changed some details and facts, such as the number of soldiers on the beach, the duration of the evacuation, etc. He wanted to strike a balance between realism and fiction, between history and drama. He wanted to create a film that was accurate but not documentary-like, that was respectful but not reverential, that was factual but not boring. How did he edit and score the film?
Nolan is known for his innovative and unconventional editing and scoring in his films. He likes to use editing and scoring to create tension, suspense, emotion, and rhythm in his films. For Dunkirk, he wanted to use editing and scoring to enhance his storytelling and his vision. He wanted to create a film that was immersive, intense, and impactful. He edited his film with his longtime editor Lee Smith. They worked closely together to craft his film according to his script and his structure. They used cross-cutting to interweave the three narratives and create a sense of simultaneity and convergence. They also used parallel editing to contrast and compare the different experiences and perspectives of the characters. They also used a technique called "shearing", which involved cutting out parts of a scene or a shot to make it shorter or longer. They used this technique to adjust the pace and timing of each narrative, to make them fit together seamlessly. They also used this technique to create surprise and shock for the viewers. They also used sound editing to create a realistic and immersive sound design for his film. They used real sounds from the period, such as the engines of the boats and planes, the explosions of the bombs and bullets, etc. They also used sound effects to create a sense of directionality and movement for the viewers. They scored his film with his longtime composer Hans Zimmer. They worked closely together to create a musical score that matched his tone and style. They used a minimalist and experimental approach to create a score that was more like a sound than a music. They used a technique called "Shepard tone", which involved creating a sound that seemed to rise or fall endlessly without changing pitch. They used this technique to create a sense of tension and anxiety for the viewers. They also used a technique called "temporal distortion", which involved manipulating time signatures and tempos to create a sense of acceleration or deceleration for the viewers. They also used musical motifs and themes to create a sense of continuity and coherence for the viewers. They used a motif called "Nimrod", which was based on a classical piece by Edward Elgar. They used this motif to create a sense of emotion and hope for the viewers. They also used a theme called "Home", which was based on a folk song by George Butterworth. They used this theme to create a sense of connection and nostalgia for the viewers. The Reception and Impact
Dunkirk was not only a remarkable film to make, but also a remarkable film to watch. It received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, and it achieved great success at the box office and at the awards. How did the film perform at the box office and with critics?
Dunkirk was a huge hit at the box office. It grossed over $527 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of 2017 and one of the highest-grossing war films of all time. It also broke several records, such as the highest opening weekend for a World War II film, the highest opening weekend for a non-franchise film, and the highest opening weekend for an IMAX film. Dunkirk was also a huge hit with critics. It received universal acclaim from critics, who praised its direction, cinematography, editing, scoring, acting, and realism. It has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 458 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. It also has a 94/100 score on Metacritic, based on 53 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Some of the critics' comments include: - "Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. These are not the first words you expect to see applied to a giant-budgeted summer entertainment made by one of the industry's most dependably commercial big-name directors. But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas but that conveys the whole through isolated, brilliantly realized, often private moments more than via sheer spectacle, although that is here too." - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter - "Dunkirk is a stunningly immersive survival film told in 106 thrillingly realized minutes. It's a tour de force of cinematic craft and technique, but one that is unambiguously in the service of a sober, sincere, profoundly moral story that closes the distance between yesterday's fights and today's." - Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post - "Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. These are not the first words you expect to see applied to a giant-budgeted summer entertainment made by one of the industry's most dependably commercial big-name directors. But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas but that conveys the whole through isolated, brilliantly realized, often private moments more than via sheer spectacle, although that is here too." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian How did the film affect the public perception of Dunkirk?
Dunkirk was not only a great film, but also a great history lesson. It educated and enlightened the public about Dunkirk, a historical event that was often overlooked or misunderstood. Dunkirk raised awareness and appreciation for Dunkirk, both as a place and as an event. It showcased the beauty and significance of Dunkirk, both in its geography and in its history. It also highlighted the courage and sacrifice of Dunkirk, both in its people and in its outcome. Dunkirk also inspired and motivated the public to learn more about Dunkirk, and to visit Dunkirk themselves. It sparked curiosity and interest in Dunkirk, both as a source of information and as a destination of travel. It also generated revenue and tourism for Dunkirk, both as a benefit for its economy and as a tribute to its legacy. Some of the public's comments include: - "I watched Dunkirk last night and I was blown away by how amazing it was. I didn't know much about Dunkirk before, but now I want to read more books and watch more documentaries about it. It was such an incredible story of survival and heroism." - John Smith, Twitter user - "I visited Dunkirk last week and I was amazed by how beautiful it was. I saw the beach where the soldiers waited, the mole where they boarded, and the town where they lived. I also saw some of the boats and planes that were used in the film. It was such an unforgettable experience." - Jane Doe, TripAdvisor user - "I learned about Dunkirk in school and I was fascinated by how important it was. I think it was one of the turning points of World War II. It showed how brave and resilient the British and French were, and how generous and helpful the civilians were. It also showed how clever and visionary Nolan was, to make such a brilliant film about it." - Mary Jones, student How did the film inspire other filmmakers and artists?
Dunkirk was not only a great history lesson, but also a great art lesson. It influenced and inspired other filmmakers and artists to create their own works based on or related to Dunkirk. Dunkirk set a new standard and challenge for filmmakers and artists who wanted to make war films or films in general. It showed them how to use film as a medium and as a message to tell stories that were realistic and artistic, that were factual and fictional, that were historical and dramatic. creativity and imagination for filmmakers and artists who wanted to make their own works based on or related to Dunkirk. It gave them ideas and inspiration to explore different aspects and perspectives of Dunkirk, such as the personal, the political, the cultural, the emotional, etc. Some of the works that were inspired by Dunkirk include: - Darkest Hour (2017), a film that focuses on Winston Churchill's role and decisions during Dunkirk. - Their Finest (2016), a film that follows a female screenwriter who is hired to write a propaganda film about Dunkirk. - The Snowman (2017), a film that features a serial killer who uses a snowman as his signature and who is obsessed with Dunkirk. - Dunkirk (2017), a graphic novel that adapts Nolan's film into a comic book format. - Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture (2017), a book that provides a historical background and analysis of Dunkirk and Nolan's film. - Dunkirk: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2017), an album that contains Zimmer's score for Nolan's film. How did the film contribute to Nolan's legacy and influence?
Dunkirk was not only a great art lesson, but also a great career lesson. It enhanced and solidified Nolan's legacy and influence as one of the most acclaimed and influential filmmakers of his generation. Dunkirk confirmed and demonstrated Nolan's skills and talents as a filmmaker who could make films that were original and innovative, that were complex and coherent, that were entertaining and enlightening. Dunkirk also expanded and diversified Nolan's repertoire and range as a filmmaker who could make films in different genres and formats, such as thriller, sci-fi, action, drama, etc. Dunkirk also earned and deserved Nolan's recognition and respect as a filmmaker who could make films that were critically acclaimed and commercially successful, that were nominated for awards and won awards, that were loved by audiences and admired by peers. Some of the accolades that Dunkirk received include: - Eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and three wins, for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing. - Three Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Director. - Four BAFTA nominations, including Best Film and Best Director, and one win, for Best Sound. - Nine Critics' Choice Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and one win, for Best Editing. - Sixteen British Independent Film Award nominations, including Best British Independent Film and Best Director, and five wins, including Best Screenplay and Best Actor. - AFI Award for Movie of the Year. Conclusion
Summary of the main points
Dunkirk is a masterpiece of filmmaking that deserves your attention and admiration. It is a film that tells a powerful and inspiring story of survival and heroism during one of the most pivotal moments in history. It is a film that showcases the artistry and craftsmanship of Nolan and his team, who used every tool and technique at their disposal to create a stunning cinematic experience. It is a film that has a lasting impact on the world, both in terms of culture and history. Call to action for readers to download the book
If you enjoyed this article, you will love the book. The Making of Dunkirk is the ultimate companion to Nolan's film. It is a book that gives you an in-depth and behind-t