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Spielberg recalls the advice he gave Nolan for Dunkirk

Steven Spielberg is responsible for countless classics, ranging from family films like E.T. to the Holocaust film SCHINDLER’S LIST. Among his most powerful and beloved films is the war drama SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, which is often hailed as the greatest film in the genre. Naturally, Christopher Nolan reached out to the director for a little help when it came time to make his latest masterwork – DUNKIRK – and in a new feature about Nolan, Spielberg recalls the advice he gave him.

Doing an interview for a new profile in Variety while rescreening DUNKIRK for Academy members in Canada, Nolan spoke about reaching out to Spielberg for a barely-shown print of PRIVATE RYAN to show his crew so they could learn how Spielberg crafted the Omaha Beach scene. Spielberg recalls giving him both the print and some advice, telling Nolan that research and authenticity must supersede imagination:

Knowing and respecting that Chris is one of the world’s most imaginative filmmakers, my advice to him was to leave his imagination, as I did on RYAN, in second position to the research he was doing to authentically acquit this historical drama.

RYAN sure is authentic, with the Omaha Beach scene capturing the horror of war better than the entirety of most war movies. But Nolan didn’t want that kind of realism for his movie and learned from RYAN that his own movie needed to embrace a similar kind of realism, but one that focused on a different aspect of the war:

The film has lost none of its power. It’s a truly horrific opening, and there are later sequences that are horrible to sit through. We didn’t want to compete with that because it is such an achievement. I realized I was looking for a different type of tension…I needed suspense, and the language of suspense is one where you can’t take your eyes from the screen. The language of horror is one where you hide your eyes. You’re looking away. It’s a different form of tension. We constructed our set-pieces not around violence, not around blood, but around physical jeopardy.

Nolan also says they didn’t make the movie with awards in mind and were just looking to give audiences a gripping, entertaining ride. But the awards will certainly come, as the movie is being hailed as a masterpiece that will surely secure Nolan his first (overdue) Oscar nomination for Best Director. Going a step further, many in the industry are saying DUNKIRK is still the one to beat for the top prize.

DUNKIRK remains my favorite movie of the year, and this year has been great for both indie films and major blockbusters. DUNKIRK is an expert combination of small-scale artistry and expensive thrills, which is why it easily won over critics and audiences. The movie is immaculate and I hope it secures him the awards and recognition Nolan deserves. 

DUNKIRK hits Blu-ray December 19.

Source: Variety

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