Dunkirk General Information/Discussion

The 2017 World War II thriller about the evacuation of British and Allied troops from Dunkirk beach.
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PREMIERE : In the prologue, there is this very impressive shot where we see the port from very high. Almost God’s point of view of God. Somewhat like giving the plan of the labyrinth and the rules of the game. "That's where everything is going to play ...". In your movies places often refer to the psychology of a character.

NOLAN : Geography is an essential aspect of storytelling, it's true. We tell so many things by anchoring a story in a place... It isn’t by accident that « Heart of Darkness » by Conrad is one of my favorite novels. It’s the purest form of geography and storytelling. Conrad never repeats himself, he sinks gradually into the depths of the human mind. Is it an inward journey or a trip out of oneself ? That's the real question Conrad is asking. And « 2001 » ! And Dante ! How to tell the trip ? This is the main question of cinema ; In any case the one that fascinates me the most. And when we care about place and geography in its relation to intrigue, then the analogy with the soul and the mind becomes obvious. « Dunkirk » speaks about a very special place that evokes the Bible squarely. In May 1940, the English were the Jews driven out of Egypt and driven back by the Red Sea. And in a Judeo-Christian civilization it adds a very strong level of mythology.

PREMIERE : Did you rewatch the 1958 movie directed by Leslie Norman?

NOLAN : No. I didn’t even know its existence before launching the production of « Dunkirk ». As soon as I began to find out seriously about the events, this movie quickly reappeared. But I didn’t want to rewatch it. One of the reasons why I wanted to tell this story is that I thought it had to be told in a modern way, for the today’s audience. I needed to think about movies that focus on specific situations. Hitchcock, Clouzot ...

PREMIERE : Clouzot ?

NOLAN : Yes. « The Wages of Fear ». Most of the crew didn’t understand why I was screening them this movie. But it was the one that made the most sense. Pure suspense. Which talks about mechanics, procedure and physical difficulties. Look at the scene where the truck has to go back on the platform and the wheels doesn’t respond anymore ... That's what I had to look for « Dunkirk » ! I wanted to show how you bring a truck on the jetty, what happens when the tires don’t pass, when the wheels no longer respond. Pure physics.


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PREMIERE : Process is at the heart of most of your films. It's the fuel of « Memento », it's the mechanics of Batman (how a superhero is constructed in a very concrete way) and it's the very subject of the « Prestige ».

NOLAN : That’s right. The process fascinates me, the mechanical and human processes. It was one of my obsessions on « Dunkirk ». I rewatched « Pickpoket » and « Un condamné à mort s’est échappé », just for that. Bresson details everything, creates suspense with details. Everything is about process, movements. « Dunkirk » is getting closer to this : dissecting the process to create suspense. The process becomes entertainment itself.

PREMIERE : I have the impression that « Dunkirk » is a laboratory where you have sought a new form to create a show …

NOLAN : I looked at how to tell this story in a way ... let's say different. It was important for me in this movie to find a storytelling that avoids or erases all the conventions, all the cliché structures of the Hollywood movies. I love Hollywood movies. I have made it for years. But I wanted to try to work in a way that would not allow me to use those tools.

PREMIERE : You were "making Hollywood movies." I find this expression interesting ...

NOLAN : I’ve always tried to use Hollywood movies differently. But I like these tools. My favorite filmmakers worked in the Hollywood system. Even at the margin – « The Thin Red Line » is a Fox movie. Hitchcock, Spielberg, Wilder worked for the system. They showed that it was possible to make masterpieces within the studios. There's nothing better than an adventurous, daring Hollywood movie. It doesn’t happen often, but when I see it, I feel full. Excited. Challenged. More than when I discovered an awesome but more modest film. If a gigantic film provokes me, asks me, makes me feel more intelligent ... this is the best experience I can have in a theater.


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PREMIERE : I feel that what you are describing is more rare today. That the studio system no longer offers the same freedom to create. Did you have some difficulty to produce « Dunkirk » ?

NOLAN : No. I don’t know. It's rare, but it has always been! Always try to think outside the box. To try new things.

PREMIERE : If you had to choose, you would say that « Dunkirk » will be experimental or very classical ?

NOLAN : (Smile.) Do not repeat it to the studio: it will be my most experimental film. From far away. But I hope to be subtle in this

Last edited by YFR3 on March 1st, 2017, 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Thank you so much YFR3! :gonf: That was a great read.

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Wow thanks YFR3!! It's fascinating.

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I'm going to reread this a couple of times.

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Great job, YFR3!

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Thanks! Wow, this is all sooo great.

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