Dunkirk (2017) Poster



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According to actor-director Kenneth Branagh, roughly thirty veteran Dunkirk survivors, who were in their mid nineties, attended the premiere in London. When asked about the film, they felt that it accurately captured the event but that the soundtrack was louder than the actual bombardment, a comment that greatly amused director Christopher Nolan.
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.
Christopher 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 nineteen hours because of the conditions of the sea.
Director Christopher Nolan rode in the Spitfire shown in the movie in order to get a sense of the aerial feel of the fighter plane, and to help him shoot and provide a realistic experience of the dogfights.
The ticking sounds that serve as a crucial theme on the film's score were recorded by composer Hans Zimmer from one of director Christopher Nolan's own pocket watches. He then put the sounds into synthesizers and altered them in different ways for the soundtrack.
Towards the end of the film, the blind man is played by John Nolan. John Nolan is the uncle of the director, Christopher Nolan, and has appeared in several of his nephew's films.
In regards to the Battle of Dunkirk's importance, director 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 U.S. 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."
"The Hollywood Reporter" stated that Christopher Nolan received a $20 million salary against 20% of the box office gross, the biggest deal for any director along with Peter Jackson, who received the same amount with King Kong (2005); however, "Vanity Fair" reported that Nolan agreed to receive a low upfront salary in exchange for a large backend percentage.
The title "Dunkirk" is divided into three segmented colours: sky blue, dark blue, and white, referring to the triptych plot of air, sea, and land.
The movie used over fifty boats on the sea, the most that has ever been put on film.
For the creation of this film, director Christopher Nolan focused on the "realism" of every aspect, such as putting an IMAX camera on the cockpit and wings of a fully functional Spitfire plane and make cameramen actually float in the water with actors.
Continuing his advocacy for film over digital formats, Christopher Nolan chose to shoot the movie in a combination of 65/70mm 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) was the third major motion picture of the 2010s to be primarily shot and shown theatrically in 70mm.
This is the third Christopher Nolan film to be written entirely by Nolan himself, with the others being Following (1998) and Inception (2010). Memento (2000) was based on a short story by 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 Nolan. Batman Begins (2005) was co-written by David S. Goyer. Christopher Nolan's only uncredited written film is Insomnia (2002), which Nolan wrote the final draft of script to shoot with.
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.
For the sound design of the film, Christopher Nolan used a Shepard tone, in which ascending notes are subtly cycled to give the impression of a never-ending rise in pitch. Also he wanted to write the script by obeying this principle so that the audience could braid together three story lines and they continually rise in anxiety and tensity. So as one story line is peaking, the other one is still to be built and the third is entering the last phase.
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.
Christopher Nolan cited silent movies such as Greed (1924), Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916), and Sunrise (1927) as inspirations for Dunkirk (2017)'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.
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.
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."
Winston Churchill had only been British Prime Minister for sixteen days when the evacuation began. On 26 May 1940, in response to peace overtures from the German government, Churchill said, "I would be grateful to get out of our present difficulties on such terms, provided we retained the essentials and the elements of our vital strength, even at the cost of some territory," before adding he was willing to give up Malta and Gibraltar and several African colonies to end the war.
Charles Lightoller, the most senior surviving officer of the RMS Titanic, participated in the Dunkirk evacuation with his private motor yacht the Sundowner. The Sundowner has been preserved by the Ramsgate Maritime Museum in England.
In the film, many soldiers cursed the Royal Air Force for not protecting them from the Luftwaffe bombers. What is not mentioned at all is that the RAF was already out, attacking the bombers sent to bomb the soldiers on the beaches, and the bombers that did attack were only the ones that got past the fighters. These dogfights occurred more inland from Dunkirk, hence why the soldiers on the beaches didn't see many fighters during the evacuation, and why they thought the RAF had abandoned them.
The end credits state that 12 of the original little ships that participated in the Dunkirk evacuation appear in the film, re-enacting their presence in 1940.
In an interview, director Christopher Nolan compared the casting of musician Harry Styles to the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), because people also underestimated him.
According to director Christopher Nolan, the tension that he feels watching Saving Private Ryan (1998) was not the tension he wanted for Dunkirk (2017).
At 106 minutes, Dunkirk (2017) is Christopher Nolan's shortest film since Following (1998).
This film marks the fifth collaboration between Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan.
In the film Dunkirk, Kenneth Branagh plays Cmdr. Bolton, Royal Navy, the Pier Master at Dunkirk. Director Christopher Nolan explained that Bolton's character was a composite of several officers who performed heroically during the evacuation, but mostly Cmdr. James Campbell Clouston. Clouston was born in Montreal on Aug. 31, 1900, and joined the Royal Navy in the midst of the First World War. The Royal Canadian Navy was a fledgling service at the time, and it was not unusual for young Canadians who wanted to serve at sea the join the Royal Navy. Clouston did well as he advanced through the service, qualifying as a gunnery specialist, considered the cream of the navy. In 1937, he became captain of the modern destroyer HMS Isis, which was undergoing refit when Dunkirk broke in late May 1940. Clouston immediately volunteered to help, and he was appointed pier master in the beleaguered port. From all accounts he gave extraordinary service, working around the clock under the most demanding circumstances to evacuate as many soldiers as possible. He stayed until no more could be evacuated but was killed in the English Channel on his way back to England when the vessel he was on was attacked by enemy aircraft. In July 1940, Clouston was awarded a Mention in Despatches, the highest posthumous award for valour after the Victoria Cross.
Director Christopher Nolan first got the idea of this film in 1992 when sailing to Dunkirk, France with his then-girlfriend/now-wife Emma Thomas.
It is the 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.
This film marked the sixth collaboration between director Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer. They previously worked together on The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Zimmer received an Oscar nomination for both Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014).
Urk, a small fishing town in The Netherlands, was used as a base of operation for filming on the IJsselmeer.
When Dunkirk (2017) came out in The Netherlands, everyone in the fisher town of Urk (Flevoland) wanted to see the movie, as a part of the film was filmed at the IJsselmeer. However, Urk does not have its own cinema, so to make sure a couple of people in the town could see the movie in their neighborhood, a cinema-truck (some sort of moving cinema with few seats) was set up.
The screenplay was 76 pages long. As a matter of fact, Christopher Nolan firstly intended to make an improvised film so as to just capture what was going on.
Most of DUNKIRK concentrates on survival rather than heroism, but in the last minute or so of the film, composer Hans Zimmer quotes the main melody from "Nimrod," the fifteenth variation from Sir Edward Elgar's popular "Enigma Variations." "Nimrod" is an orchestral/band piece frequently associated with British patriotism. The same piece of music featured alongside Kenneth Branagh in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony as he delivered lines from Shakespeare's "The Tempest".
If you look up the location below on Google Maps (Street View), on Dunkirk beach you can see them building the initial alley way that Tommy runs through to get to the beach. Barriers with 'film' signs attached can be seen. Zooming in, you can see that much of the background detail is identical to the film. Only road signs have been removed; the 1920s-style light with glass ball shade was there originally. 15 Digue de Mer 59240 Dunkerque France
Nolan used huge number of cardboard cut outs of soldiers along with 1000 extras in order to create the illusion of a huge number of men during the evacuation.
Dunkirk (2017) had 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 (2017) was screened at 125 70MM theaters, surpassing the previous record of 100 theaters by Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015).
Director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. reportedly bought a vintage WWII Luftwaffe bomber for use in this movie, at a cost of $5 million.
This is the debut feature film acting roles for both Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles.
Mr. Dawson's boat is flying a blue ensign flag (because he was a member of a yacht club and/or was retired Royal Navy); most of the other boats are flying the red ensign, which designates a merchant ship.
Extensive handheld IMAX camera work was accomplished by DP Hoyte Van Hoytema, who often had to man a rig weighing as much as 60lbs fully loaded. Because of its top-heaviness, key grip Ryan Monro would stabilize the unit by physically holding it during complex takes.
The Halt Order was agreed 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 fifty percent of his armored forces and needed time to regroup. After the war Runstedt tried to blame the Halt Order on Adolf Hitler. Rundstedt's biographer conceded that this "does not represent the whole truth", because the original impetus for a pause came from Kleist and Rundstedt himself.
The hospital ship seen prominently at the beginning of the film is played by M/S "Rogaland," a 1929-built Norwegian passenger ship that saw service in World War II and was sunk in 1944. She was later raised and rebuilt, and still functions regularly as a cruise ship based in Stavanger, Norway.
The parallels between the experiences of Mark Rylance's small boat and that of "Sundowner" (taken to Dunkirk by Commander C.H. Lightoller, DSC, RNR (Retd)) can be read on pages 201-203 of "Dunkirk" by A.D.Divine (published in 1945). Lightoller (previously second officer and most senior surviving crew member of RMS Titanic) took as crew his son and a sea scout; he picked up survivors from a returning motor cruiser and took them back to Dunkirk "giving them the additional pleasure of again facing the hell they had only just left"; his youngest son (lost flying his Blenheim in the first air raid on Wilhelmshaven) had previously given him advice on evasive tactics and he used them to evade an aircraft which gave up its attack after three unsuccessful attempts to fire on Sundowner; and the stoker P.O. assisting disembarkation of 130 men did ask where he had put them. One surprise is that several equally dramatic incidents in this account were not used in the film, so perhaps they were working from a different version of Lightoller's story.
Dunkirk (2017) was filmed in France under the name "Bodega Bay."
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 movie is said to have had the largest marine unit in film history while filming in sea during production.
Around one thousand extras were used during the shoot.
Christopher Nolan investigated silent films to infuse crowd scenes with suspense by using details only, given the minuscule presence of dialogue in the film.
This is the third collaboration between Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan after Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Part of the movie was filmed on the closed off inland bay of IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. The first two letters of the name are capitalized because they are treated as a single letter.
This was cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema's second collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. The previous was Interstellar (2014).
The film was criticized for not showing Indian soldiers. Four contingents of Indian soldiers fought at Dunkirk, even though Mohandas K. Gandhi had ordered all Indian people not to support the British war effort in September 1939.
The entire film was made to encompass the snowball effect that had only been used in the third acts of Christopher Nolan's previous films. According to him, by applying the snowball effect, he stripped the film of conventional theatrics to make the entire film to be more than the sum of its parts.
Until the Fall of Singapore in 1942 the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk was widely regarded as the worst defeat in British history.
In several shots in the film, dock cranes are clearly visible as well as houses that don't look very old. This is actually historically accurate. There were dock cranes in Dunkirk at the time, and the houses on the beachfront did look more like the more "modernized" 3 or 4 story apartment blocks.
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 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.)
Michael Caine has an unseen and uncredited role as a British Spitfire pilot in the film. He previously portrayed a Spitfire pilot in "Battle of Britain" (1969).
The film had a five minute IMAX prologue that played in front of Rogue One (2016) & Kong: Skull Island (2017). 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).
Will Attenborough's grandfather, Richard Attenborough, starred in a previous filmed version of this historical event: Dunkirk (1958).
The first Christopher Nolan film since The Prestige (2006) to not receive funding from Legendary Pictures.
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 film cast includes two Oscar winners: Mark Rylance and Michael Caine; and two Oscar nominees: Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh. Coincidentally they have all been recognised in the Supporting Actor category.
Of the 40,000 plus British soldiers captured, who fought the rear guard, 10,000 plus were Scottish. However, there is only one notable inclusion in this adaptation of the 51st Highlanders.
This will be Tom Hardy's third time starring in a World War II adaptation. He plays an American Paratrooper of the 101st Airborne in Band of Brothers (2001) and a British POW in Colditz (2005).
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.
This film was shipped to cinemas under the shooting title of "Bodega Bay."
Harry Styles had a personal bodyguard on set, because of the unwanted attention.
Even though he receives top billing Tom Hardy's face is only seen for a few moments. He spends most of the film behind his oxygen mask and goggles flying and fighting in his Spitfire.
The fuel used by the Germans during the Battle of France was provided by the Soviet Union, due to the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement.
The "Me 109" is actually a Buchon Hispano HA-1112-M1L built post war for the Spanish Air Force; It has a RR Merlin engine, the same as a Spitfire.
Critics complained the film ignored the French army, which held back German divisions near the city of Lille during the evacuation.
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.
Xylonite was the name for one of the rescue sail boats seen in the trailer, it is open to visitors and stationed at Maldon Essex.
Christopher Nolan's first war movie.
The British government had already decided to continue the war when the British Expeditionary Force was felt lost. On 26 May 1940 the War Cabinet had discussed the still-neutral Benito Mussolini's offer to broker a negotiated end to the war; two days later Winston Churchill convinced all the members of the cabinet to continue fighting, no matter what the cost. But the overall importance of returning nearly 300,000 fighting men can not be downplayed as this was nearly 25% of the entire British Expeditiory Force.
The soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk only comprised one tenth of the British armed forces in 1940.
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Only two women have speaking roles in this film.
Of the many destroyers present in Operation Dynamo, the last remaining one is the Polish ORP 'Blyskawica,' a Grom-class destroyer. During Dynamo, 'Blyskawica' was under Royal Navy control, although her crew continued to be Polish. 'Blyskawica' served with distinction well into the post-war era, and only decommissioned in 1976, after almost 40 years in service. She also holds the distinction of being the oldest preserved destroyer in the world and resides in Gdynia, Poland.
This is the seventh Christopher Nolan film to be distributed by Warner Bros.
Third blockbuster movie where Tom Hardy wears a mask or covers his face for a major period, after Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
The Guardian UK and Warner Bros. UK reports that Dunkirk (2017) scored £1.33m of its gross in UK's IMAX venues. Also that it has done well in venues offering projection in 35mm and 70mm - Picturehouse, for example, achieved greater seat occupancy for its celluloid presentations. Internationally, on 232 IMAX screens, the film grossed almost £7M with a strong per-screen average of almost £30K, and ranks as the third-highest-grossing Imax opening weekend ever in July, both internationally and globally. (The film opened in 46 international markets this weekend and was on IMAX in 42 of those markets with a handful of 70mm engagements on its overall 10,775 screens).
Christopher Nolan's first period film since The Prestige (2006), eleven years before this film's release.
In the UK, Dunkirk (2017) has opened at the top end of any reasonable expectations with a very robust £10.02m from a whopping 638 cinemas. That cinema count is higher than for the opening frames of summer blockbusters such as War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Despicable Me 3 (2017) and Wonder Woman (2017). Dunkirk has achieved the fourth biggest UK opening of 2017, behind Beauty and the Beast (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and Despicable Me 3 (2017). (The Fate of the Furious (2017) was also seemingly bigger, but its debut number was boosted by significant previews.)
Some of the aircraft seen in the film are actually large 2 meter long Radio Controlled scale models. They manufactured and used 40 accurate scale models of Junkers Ju-87 "StuKa" and Messerschmitt 109s, mainly for low flying and strafing scenes.
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This is the first biographic movie directed by Christopher Nolan.
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.
This will be Tom Hardy's third World War Two project since Colditz (2005).
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.
The third World War II film based on true events starring Cillian Murphy. The previous ones are The Edge of Love (2008) where he plays Captain William Killick who sees action in Greece, and Anthropoid (2016) where he plays Josef Gabcík, the man tasked to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
This is the seventh Christopher Nolan's blockbuster made with a PG-13 rating.
This is the first Christopher Nolan film to be based on actual events. Effectively, even though the screenplay is original, Dunkirk is Nolan's first film inspired by a true story.
This is Christopher Nolan's first collaboration with Kenneth Branagh.
Dunkirk features the most footage shoot on 65mm IMAX film stock to date, with 79 minutes of the final cut being footage that was shot on said IMAX film stock. This beats out a previous Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises, which had 72 minutes of its final cut being footage that was shot on said IMAX film stock.
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Tom Hardy is the only Spitfire pilot wearing a pair of goggles with a flip-down tinted lense. These are the same type of goggles worn by Bruce Spence who played The Gyro Captain in The Road Warrior (1981) from the Mad Max films. Hardy played Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Christopher Nolan's fifth straight film to enter AFI's Top 10 Films list, as well as his eighth film to be named one of IMDb's Top 250 Films.
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Perhaps a tongue-in-cheek inside joke by the director: early on in the film, a trio of Spitfires overfly the yacht that is the center of one of the three stories. The owner, Mr. Dawson, says something to the effect of: "The Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The best sound you can hear out there." The Spitfires were powered by the Merlin. The Bf 109s of that era would have had Daimler-Benz engines. However, the Messerschmitts used in the film were not 1940-era aircraft. They were Hispano's, Bf 109s built by Spain under contact in the late 40s and early 50s. Rather than the sleek nose profile of the original Bf 109s, these planes have "chin", to accommodate their new engines, which were Rolls Royce Merlins. The inside joke? Regardless of which fighters flew by, the actual actors, not the characters they played, would have heard the sound of Rolls Royce Merlin engines.
Andrew Simpson was reportedly in talks for one of the main characters.
This is the first Christopher Nolan film since Insomnia (2002) and third film overall, in addition to his debut Following (1998), that doesn't have any American characters who are played by non-American actors.
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With a run-time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, the film is almost 1 hour shorter than Christopher Nolan's previous film, Interstellar (2014) (2 hours and 49 minutes).
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Most of DUNKIRK concentrates on survival rather than heroism, but in the last minute or so of the film, composer Hans Zimmer quotes the main melody from "Nimrod," the fifteenth variation from Sir Edward Elgar's popular "Enigma Variations." "Nimrod" is an orchestral/band piece frequently associated with British patriotism. The same work also is quoted briefly earlier in the film, when the "little ships" arrive at Dunkirk.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the sequence where the Spitfire ditches into the English Channel, an IMAX camera was strapped into the cockpit to film Jack Lowden's character trying to get out. However, during filming, the plane with the camera still inside sank quicker than predicted. It took so long to retrieve the plane that the IMAX camera housing filled with water, potentially ruining both the very expensive camera and the film inside. Director Christopher Nolan used an old movie technique of keeping the film wet and shipped it back to Los Angeles, and processed the film before it dried out. The take from that film is in the movie.
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 clock in the soundtrack doesn't stop ticking during the whole movie, until Alex and Tommy are sitting safely on the train.
The Mark Rylance character, Dawson, is closely based on Lightoller, Second Officer of the Titanic, who took his yacht Sundowner to Dunkirk at the age of 66. Like Lightoller he refuses to let the navy crew his boat - "if anyone takes her it will be me", and takes one of his sons with him. Like Lightoller, Dawson has lost a son in the RAF (Brian, shot down in a Wellington bomber on the second day of the war) who taught him how to evade air attack. Also like Lightoller he packs the boat so full (four stood in the bathtub), the disembarkation officer couldn't believe over 55 men were aboard Sundowner.
In researching the Dunkirk true story, History vs Hollywood discovered that while the character Farrier is not directly based on an actual person, his experience most closely resembles that of Alan Christopher "Al" Deere, a New Zealand Spitfire pilot. Farrier's fictional experience is indeed similar. After shooting down several German planes, he too is forced to crash-land east of Dunkirk, likely on a Belgian beach. Unlike Deere, Farrier is captured in the closing shots. Deere famously got back to England after punching a naval officer in the face when he refused to let the RAF on board. During his combat career Al was shot down nine times, surviving all incidents to then go on to write his autobiography 'Nine Lives'.
Despite the fact that the Germans are shooting at and bombing the allied forces throughout the film, no German troops are actually visible until one of the last shots in the movie, and even then they're out of focus and in shadow.
The distinctive sound of planes that bombed the beach is comes from the Junkers Ju-87 Sturzkampfflugzeug "Stuka" dive bombers. The sound did not come from its engine nor its propeller, but from sirens mounted upon the leading edges of its faired main gear legs, the so-called Jericho Trompete ("Jericho trumpet") which terrorized ground troops and became a propaganda tool of German air power during WWII. Though the Stuka dive bombers were the only aircraft equipped with such a siren system, it has became a characteristic sound of planes diving down/attacking.
Near the end of the film, a Spitfire without fuel is seen shooting down a Stuka dive-bomber. This is historically correct - the Stukas were notoriously easy targets for fighter planes (especially when preparing to dive) and, in the following Battle of Britain, suffered high casualties.
The only German soldiers seen in the film are the ones who capture Farrier at the end of the film. They are shown out of focus.
Among the British Infantry, only Tommy and a few soldiers firing at German planes are shown using their rifles. In both cases, they don't hit anything.
According to director Christopher Nolan, the original ending of the movie was supposed to be the shot of the burning Spitfire on the beach. Nolan changed his mind after watching dailies of Fionn Whitehead, who plays "Tommy." In an interview with his brother Jonathan, Nolan said, "At the end, [Fionn] did this thing where he just, I don't even know what he's doing, but you want to end with this quiet moment with him, where no one's paying attention to him and Alex is eating and drinking stuff the girls are handing through the window. It brings you back to this personal moment; he's trying to process the words he's just read from this very eloquent politician and trying to reconcile that with his experience. Hopefully the audience is trying to do the same thing, through his eyes. So it comes back to a very small thing."
Christopher Nolan's fifth movie to feature a character deliver a monologue while a montage of multiple events closes the film.
Most unusual for a World War II story, the film deals with civilians rescuing military personnel instead of vice versa.
There is no German soldier until end of the movie, when capturing British pilot.Even then, they are barely visible
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