While many fans are looking forward to superhero adventures like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman this summer, others have been waiting with bated breath for filmmaker Christopher Nolan‘s latest, Dunkirk. Last month, the MPAA handed out a PG-13 rating for the film, which took some fans by surprise, since it’s an epic World War II film, although most of his films have been PG-13. During a new interview that took place at CinemaCon last week, the filmmaker revealed that he feels more comfortable working within the PG-13 construct. Here’s what he had to say below.
“All of my big blockbuster films have been PG-13. It’s a rating I feel comfortable working with totally. Dunkirk is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film. So while there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way. I would really like lots of different types of people to get something out of the experience.”
While there have been countless films about the WWII experience, there haven’t been many that explore this story, centering on the legendary evacuation of Allied soldiers in northern France, which took place between May and June of 1940. The filmmaker has previously explained that the story will be told from three perspectives, from pilots in the air, soldiers on the ground and those at sea. When the Associated Press asked why he wanted to tell this story, the filmmaker had this to say.
“As a filmmaker you’re always looking for a gap in cultural movies and Dunkirk is a story British people are raised on. It’s in our DNA practically. But it has not been addressed in the movies. So for me, it was a very exciting gap. I’ve spent a number of years trying to figure out what’s the angle of approach, what’s the angle of attack for getting the story across? So we came upon the notion of creating a very experiential film, one that rather than trying to address the politics of the situation, the geopolitical situation, would really put you on the beach where 400,000 people are trapped, surrounded by the enemy closing in and faced with annihilation or surrender. The fact the story ended with neither annihilation nor surrender makes it one of the greatest stories in human history.”
Back in June, just weeks after production got started on Dunkirk, an unconfirmed rumor claimed that Warner Bros. had shelled out a whopping $5 million to buy a vintage WWII plane, which director Christopher Nolan intended on crashing and destroying for the film. While the report was never confirmed, the director did reveal that real vintage planes were used in the movie, they didn’t crash any of them. Here’s what he had to say below.
“No. We used real antique vintage planes and flew them for the movie but we also constructed full scale models to destroy. A lot of money was involved but not that much money. I would never! Obviously never. These planes are so beautiful and so valuable for so many reasons and the respect I have for them having done this, especially now having worked with them. The Spitfire is the most glorious machine.”
We also reported last year that, after a string of hits that includes The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, Christopher Nolan has become the highest-paid director in Hollywood, earning a whopping $20 million to take the helm for Dunkirk. The filmmaker recently teased that the story is less about the characters and more about survival itself. When asked to elaborate, Christopher Nolan had this to say.
“I feel like Dunkirk is such a universal event and it involves so many people that to try to encapsulate the specific detail of the human experience wasn’t the way to go. What we decided to do was to really try and live in the moment of the experience … the very immediate and human desire to survive. It’s the most human movie I’ve ever made because it’s about the desire for survival. We wanted to tackle that and make what I refer to as a very present tense narrative where you’re in the moment with the characters. You’re not necessarily spending too much time discussing who they were before or who they will be after.”
Dunkirk features a prestigious cast, including Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Wolf Hall), Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Hamlet, Henry V) and Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy), as well as newcomer Fionn Whitehead. The ensemble cast also includes Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan and Tom Glynn-Carney. Christopher Nolan is directing from his own screenplay, with Warner Bros. setting Dunkirk for release on July 21, putting it up against Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Girl Trip.