Christopher Nolan is a director who has made his mark on the industry as an ambitious director. With Batman Begins, he managed to resurrect a superhero that had suffered the seemingly game-ending treatment of Batman and Robin. With its sequel, The Dark Knight, he proved that comic book movies can be taken seriously, and with Inception, his popularity as a director took off to all new heights.
For better or worse (mostly better), Nolan is a director who has built his career on ambitious ideas. His Batman films have a moral center and message, and his work often deals with the questions of what makes us tick. Sure, they may have world-ending stakes, but when all said and done, they are about people and the human condition.
If you were hoping that following his most ambitious film yet — Interstellar — that he would rein in the scope of his next film, you’d be sorely mistaken. Speaking with Premiere (via The Playlist), Nolan delved into the structure of his latest film, Dunkirk, which follows the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II.
Here’s what the acclaimed director had to say about the movie and its unique structure:
“The film is told from three points of view. The air (planes), the land (on the beach) and the sea (the evacuation by the navy). For the soldiers 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, once again, is very simple.”
War is never an easy subject to tackle, and most films manage to succeed by focusing almost solely on a group of leads in the thick of battle. This, however, is a unique approach — an approach almost more fit for television, in all honesty. Like, say, Game of Thrones, this structure seems to bring together the entire story in a tapestry of perspectives that helps to give the event a sort of scope that would otherwise be lost.
This is an approach that is much more difficult to pull off, no doubt. That being said, we appreciate his ambition with this one, and hope it proves to be exactly what audiences are looking for when they file into theaters this July. Perhaps this approach is what audiences need to look forward to a film based on a battle that few talk about when compared to the usual World War II fare.
In regards to the Battle of Dunkirk’s importance, 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.”
We’ve heard nothing but great things from those who have had a chance to check out the first seven minutes of Dunkirk, so this gets us pretty amped. If you were like this writer and were disappointed by the paint-by-numbers nature of Hacksaw Ridge, you’re likely hoping this one could help to fill that void.
Fingers crossed that it actually does!
Dunkirk hits theaters on July 21, 2017.