- Title: Nolan's 'Dunkirk' builds suspense of war without the gore
- Date: 18th July 2017
- Summary: SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, SAYING: "Well our decision behind that was to try create a different kind of tension, a different kind of suspense, rather than gore and horror because that causes a lot of people to avert their eyes one way or another, close themselves off to the experience. and what we felt as if we could create a type of intensity that was more based on the language of suspense which I think is one of the most primal storytelling languages in cinema and it's one of the types of storytelling that cinema is best at, an experience of suspense. If we could really get people to be ok with being there and passing through this experience, I think we felt that it would get more out of it. There have been many brilliant films that show blood and gore and all kinds of repulsive aspects of war, we felt that that point has been made very strongly by other films. We were looking for something a little different here, looking to give people a rather different experience."
- Embargoed: 1st August 2017 23:29
- Keywords: Dunkirk Christopher Nolan Mark Rylance Jack Lowden English Channel Dover
- Location: SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- City: SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Film
- Reuters ID: LVA0026Q8X171
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: For the filmmaker who re-imagined Batman as "The Dark Knight" and explored deep space in "Interstellar," the story of British troops trapped on a French beach during World War Two may seem like an unlikely draw.
But the events of May 1940 that Christopher Nolan explores in "Dunkirk" is a "very suspenseful, thrilling tale that isn't necessarily one that fits in exactly and neatly into films that you've seen before," the British director told Reuters.
"Dunkirk," out in theaters on Friday, recounts the evacuation by civilians and military of some 400,000 British and Allied soldiers stranded on the desolate French beach of Dunkirk, across the English Channel port of Dover.
Unlike other war films that detail the violence of battle, Nolan opted to minimize the bloodshed and create "a different kind of suspense rather than gore and horror, because that causes people to avert their eyes."
"There have been many brilliant films that show blood and gore and all kinds of repulsive aspects of war," Nolan said. "We wanted to give people a rather different experience."
To achieve that effect, Nolan cuts between three perspectives - the battle in the skies, the armada of civilians sailing across the Channel in small boats, and the stranded soldiers desperately trying to escape.
Critics have given rave reviews to "Dunkirk." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it an "impressionist masterpiece," while Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly said the film "is visceral, big-budget filmmaking that can be called Art."
The restrained violence of "Dunkirk" is not the only difference Nolan brings to the traditional war film.
Rather than focus on the stories of individuals, like Steven Spielberg's 1998 World War Two epic "Saving Private Ryan," or Mel Gibson's 2016 film "Hacksaw Ridge," Nolan's "Dunkirk" conveys communal heroism rather than individual acts.
"Well it's strange because like we've been saying it's really a story of survival, you know, and like selflessness as a community and not just as individuals so I guess it plays out on a daily basis all over the world, you know, in massive disasters. You know, and especially like you know the disaster in London recently, you know, and I think when our backs are to the wall you know this film is an example of what we can achieve," said actor Jack Lowden, who plays the character of 'Collins' in the film.
Although the film portrays a key event of WWII, Oscar-winner Mark Rylance said the film avoids being nationalistic.
"The Germans are not all Nazis and Chris (Nolan) has done that very nicely, it's just the enemy really, it's not ... so I think he's avoiding the film being a kind of encouragement of nationalism. And as everyone knows England is in a bit of tricky position at the moment with its relationship to Europe so he's done it more about the essential situation of any person or group of people who have their backs to the sea or backs to the wall and are miraculously saved," he said.
While the film stars big names like Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Rylance, Nolan held open casting calls to find young new faces, led by 20-year-old newcomer Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, a scrappy, traumatized soldier fighting to survive.
He is joined by 23-year-old singer Harry Styles, formerly of boy band One Direction, who makes his film debut in "Dunkirk" and has received praise for his performance.
"It's not a war movie that's for history buffs who love war movies. I feel like it's a very emotional story, it's very intimate. You're in with the characters from the very start and it's kind of scary at times and intense to watch," Styles said.
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