Why Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is different to other war classics

By Christopher Georgiou & Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 8, 2017
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Director Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" film is structured on musical principles which continually accelerate the action, and defines itself from traditional war films.

Director Christopher Nolan speaks to China.org.cn at the Q&A session in Beijing on Aug. 22, 2017 when he was promoting his new film "Dunkirk" in China. [Photo/China.org.cn] 

With a thundering bang, the sound of shots rings out, alarming the audience from the very first scene. Since that moment the viewer cannot keep their eyes off the screen, in what is more of a suspenseful thriller as opposed to a gory war movie.

Doing justice to the remarkable and miraculous escape of allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk is a daunting task. The evacuation was a critical moment in WWII with the German forces closing in, the fate of an entire army and future of the war hung in the balance.

The largest military evacuation in history, taking place between May 27 and June 4, 1940, saw an estimated 338,000 allied troops rescued from northern France. But 11,000 Britons were killed during the operation - and another 40,000 were captured and imprisoned. Described as a "miracle of deliverance" by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, it is seen as one of several events in 1940 that determined the eventual outcome of the war.

The movie, in this sense, amongst all the other historical happenings, rightly and effectively focuses on the suspense of the operation and how finely balanced it was.

"I didn't see this so much as a war film, but a suspense film, a survival. I wanted to convey the loneliness of the characters. We didn't want to hide behind the chaos of traditional war films, where you have a lot of visual complexity and you can't understand what is going on," said director Christopher Nolan at a roundtable Q&A session on Aug. 22, 2017 when he was promoting the film in China.

So far the film has grossed more than 260 million yuan (US$39.87 million) in the Chinese market by Sept. 7 and topped the domestic weekend box office chart.

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