Christopher Nolan lays out the plot structure of Dunkirk

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

Christopher Nolan Dunkirk

No matter which project Christopher Nolan chooses to tackle, it's a pretty good bet that he'll have all eyes on him. Nolan's latest, DUNKIRK, is set to debut this summer and tells the true story of Allied soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk as they await evacuation while being surrounded by the German Army. True to form, Nolan has gone big on DUNKIRK as he's shot the film on a combination of IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large format film stock as well as reconditioning actual warships and spending a large chunk of dough on vintage aircraft which he strapped IMAX cameras on and purposefully crashed. Long story short, DUNKIRK is likely to be quite the visual feast.

As far as the plot goes, Christopher Nolan recently told Premiere that the dialogue of DUNKIRK will be significantly stripped down compared to his previous movies and will feature three different perspectives on the event.

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.

When all is said and done, Christopher Nolan hopes that DUNKIRK will do justice to this essential moment in WWII history.

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.

Although the film chronicles one of the defining moments of the second World War, Nolan says that DUNKIRK will be less of a war film and more of a "survival drifted by the suspense." Nolan went on to say that he "wanted to be in the present moment, to find the immediate intensity to share the experience of these soldiers. The film recounts a series of paradoxical situations. The most obvious: the army is stuck on this beach and must cross the Channel to return to England. But from there, there are others: will a soldier succeed in reaching the mole? Will the pilot be able to carry out his mission? And the film focuses on suspense sequences that are reduced to a human dimension."

DUNKIRK is set for a July 21, 2017 release.

Source: Premiere (via The Playlist)

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.