By the tradition, Christopher Nolan decided to use the real naval destroyers instead of CGI for sea battle sequences in this film. He also used cardboard cut-out props of soldiers and military vehicles placed in the far background of shots to create the illusion of a large army. At one point, there were 62 ships during filming, many of which were actual 'Little Ships' of Operation Dynamo.
Hans Zimmer used Nolan's pocket watch to create the clock ticking soundtracks in the film.
Christopher Nolan received a $20 million salary against 20% of the box office gross, the biggest deal for any director since Peter Jackson received the same amount with King Kong (2005).
Continuing his advocacy for film over digital formats, Christopher Nolan chose to shoot the movie in a combination of 15/70mm IMAX film and Super Panavision 65mm film in order to achieve the maximum possible image quality. Following The Master (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015), Dunkirk (2017) will be the third major motion picture of the current decade to be primarily shot and shown theatrically in 70mm.
The film is told from three points of view: on the beach with the infantry (including Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles), the evacuation by the navy (featuring Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance, showing how civilians came to the rescue) and then in the air (with Tom Hardy engaging in plane combat). Speaking about the narrative structure in Premiere magazine, Christopher Nolan stated: "For the soldiers who embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities. On land, some stayed one week stuck on the beach. On the water, the events lasted a maximum day; and if you were flying to Dunkirk, the British spitfires would carry an hour of fuel. To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata. Hence the complicated structure; even if the story is very simple. Do not repeat it to the studio: it will be my most experimental film."
The title "Dunkirk" is divided into three segmented colours, sky blue, dark blue and orange referring to the triptych plot of Air, Sea and Land.
This is the 3rd Christopher Nolan film to be written entirely by Chris himself, the others being Following (1998) and Inception (2010). Memento (2000) was a story based from his brother, Jonathan Nolan. The Dark Knight (2008), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014) were all co-written by Jonathan. Batman Begins (2005) was co-written by David S. Goyer. Christopher's only uncredited written film is Insomnia (2002).
1,500 extras, a crane and a spitfire were used to recreate the miraculous evacuation of 338,000 allied troops.
After first-hand accounts of the Dunkirk evacuation revealed to Christopher Nolan how young and inexperienced the soldiers were, he decided to cast young and unknown actors for the beach setting.
First Christopher Nolan movie to be based on historical events. All of his other movies have either been original scripts, remakes, novel/short story adaptations, or comic book adaptations.
Christopher Nolan cited silent movies such as Greed (1924), Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916), and Sunrise (1927) as inspirations for 'Dunkirk's' crowd scenes: "I spent a lot of time reviewing the silent films for crowd scenes - the way extras move, evolve, how the space is staged and how the cameras capture it, the views used". Nolan also studied A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and The Wages of Fear (1953) to dissect the process of creating suspense through details.
In regards to the Battle of Dunkirk's importance, Christopher Nolan stated:"This is an essential moment in the history of the Second World War. If this evacuation had not been a success, Great Britain would have been obliged to capitulate. And the whole world would have been lost, or would have known a different fate: the Germans would undoubtedly have conquered Europe, the US would not have returned to war. It is a true point of rupture in war and in history of the world. A decisive moment. And the success of the evacuation allowed Churchill to impose the idea of a moral victory, which allowed him to galvanize his troops like civilians and to impose a spirit of resistance while the logic of this sequence should have been that of surrender. Militarily it is a defeat; on the human plane it is a colossal victory."
Urk, a small fishing town in Flevoland, The Netherlands, was used as a base of operation for filming on the IJsselmeer.
Christopher Nolan's sixth collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer. They previously worked together on The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception (2010), and Interstellar (2014). Zimmer received an Oscar Nomination for both Inception and Interstellar.
In creating of this film, director Christopher Nolan focused on the "real" of every aspect: putting an IMAX camera on the cockpit and wing of an actual Spitfire plane, floating cameramen around in the water with actors.
This will be cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema's second collaboration with Christopher Nolan. The previous was Interstellar (2014).
At 106 minutes, Dunkirk (2017) is Christopher Nolan's shortest film since Following (1998).
In an interview, Christopher Nolan compared the casting of musician Harry Styles to the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight--because people also underestimated him.
Dunkirk (2017) will have the widest film release in the 70MM widescreen format in twenty-five years since Ron Howard's Far and Away (1992). The 70MM film prints of Dunkirk will be screened at 125 70MM theaters, surpassing the previous record of 100 theaters by Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015).
This is the third collaboration between Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan after Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Contrary to popular belief, Adolf Hitler never issued a halt order prior to the evacuation from Dunkirk. The order was actually issued by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, commander of Army Group A, and General Günther von Kluge, commander of the Fourth Army, at the request of the tank unit commander General Paul von Kleist, who had lost 50% of his armored forces and needed time to regroup. Hitler only sanctioned the order.
The ticking sounds that serve as a crucial theme on the film's score were recorded by Hans Zimmer from one of Christopher Nolan's own pocket watches. Then, he put the sounds into synthesizers and altered them in different ways for the soundtrack.
Christopher Nolan investigated silent films to influence crowd scenes with suspense using details only, because of the minuscule presence of dialogue in the film.
Until the Fall of Singapore in 1942 the withdrawal from Dunkirk was widely viewed as the worst defeat in British military history.
When asked why he cast Harry Styles in the film, Christopher Nolan said "I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it."
The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Mark Rylance and two Oscar nominees: Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh.
The first Christopher Nolan film since The Prestige (2006) to not receive funding from Legendary Pictures.
Dunkirk (2017) is the seventh film between Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine after Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014). Caine appears in an uncredited voice cameo, he's the voice on the radio talking to a Royal Air Force officer early in the film. Nolan confirmed this in an interview with Stephen Whitty of NJ.com.
Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2016 Academy Awards for The Revenant (2015) and Bridge of Spies (2015), respectively. Rylance won the award.
Two historic fishing boats were used as a background decor. The UK 12 and the UK 114. However, UK does not stand for United Kingdom. It is a Dutch harbor-code for Urk, where much of the filming was done.
The film had a seven minute IMAX prologue that played in front of Rogue One (2016). This is the third time a Christopher Nolan film has had prologue released six months before the release of the film. The other two were The Dark Knight (2008) IMAX prologue played in front of I Am Legend (2007) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) IMAX prologue played in front of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011).
The French city of Dunkirk wanted parts of the movie to be filmed in the original Dunkirk. As a consequence, the City Hall created a cinema department to promote and organize filming in the city. They achieved getting 207 days of filming in the first 18 months from different projects.
A modified two-seater Yak-52 was used to portray a Spitfire so that the actor and actual pilot could switch between seats depending on the shot that needed to be made.
Will Attenborough's grandfather, Richard Attenborough, starred in a previous filmed version of this historical event: Dunkirk (1958).
The 10th feature length film directed by Christopher Nolan. If his short film Doodlebug (1997) and documentary short Quay (2015) are included, his 12th film overall.
Of the 40,000 plus British soldiers captured, who fought the rear guard, 10,000 plus were Scottish. The only notable inclusion in this adaptation, of the 51st Highlanders, is an Englishman playing one of their number.
Chirstopher Nolan along with his wife Emma Thomas and a friend made the crossing from England to Dunkirk on a Boat. The way the civilians would have done during the Dunkirk Evacuation. Nolan said it took 19 hours because of the conditions of the sea.
'Christopher Nolan' first got the idea in 1992 when sailing to Dunkirk with his then-girlfriend 'Emma Thomas'.
This will be Tom Hardy's second time starring in a World War II adaptation. The first being Band of Brothers (2001) where he plays an American Paratrooper in the 101st Airborne.
Reunites Christopher Nolan with Hans Zimmer (music), Lee Smith (editor), Hoyte Van Hoytema (photography), Nathan Crowley (production designer), John Papsidera (casting), Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. Most of the crew have been working with Nolan since The Dark Knight Trilogy, except van Hoytema who has worked with him since Interstellar (2014).
The warships used in the film include: French T-47-class destroyer 'Maillé-Brézé' (D627) portraying British destroyers HMS 'Vivacious' (D36) and HMS 'Vanquisher' (D54). Dutch Dokkum-class minesweepers HNLMS 'Naaldwijk' (M/PW809) and HNLMS 'Sittard' (M830) with the 'Naaldwijk' portraying British minesweeper HMS 'Britomart' (J22) and, and the 'Sittard' as British destroyers HMS 'Havant' (H32) and HMS 'Jaguar' (F34). British Harbor Defence Motor Launch HMS 'Medusa' (ML1387). Dutch Multipurpose ship MLV 'Castor' (A810) as British destroyer HMS 'Basilisk' (H11). British Motor Torpedo Boat MTB102. (MTB102 was present at the actual Dunkirk evacuation and became the smallest vessel to become a flagship in the Royal Navy when Admiral Frederic Wake-Walker transferred to her after his previous flagship, destroyer HMS 'Keith' (D06) was disabled.) -
Director Christopher Nolan actually rode in the Spitfire shown in the movie in order to get a sense of the aerial feel of the fighter plane; with the purpose being to help him shoot and provide an authentically realistic experience of the dogfights for the audience.
Christopher Nolan's first period film since The Prestige (2006), eleven years before this films release.
When the movie came out in The Netherlands, everyone in the fisher town Urk (Flevoland) wanted to see the movie, as a part of the film was filmed at the IJsselmeer. Only: in Urk is no cinema. To make sure a couple people in Urk could see the movie in their neighborhood, there was a cinema-truck (some sort of moving cinema with little seats) set up.
This will be Kenneth Branagh's third World War II movie. He also appeared in Conspiracy (2001) and Valkyrie (2008). If counting Swing Kids (1993) whose story takes place a few years before the war, then it would mark as the fourth WWII film he starred in.
Lots of filming was done in and around Urk, a small fishing town in Flevoland, the Netherlands. Urk is pronounced exactly the same as the second part of the movie name: dunkURK.
Nolan used huge number of cardboard cut outs of soldiers along with 1000 extras in order to create a huge sense of illusion during the evacuation.
The movie is said to have had the largest marine unit in film history while filming in sea during production.
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