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Dunkirk: The nail-biting thriller about survival hits Irish cinemas today

Christopher Nolan tackles WWII without the blood and gore.

Source: YouTube

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN HAS never been one to follow conventions.

The British director has built his career on darkly told stories of human experience, using fractured narratives, dreamscapes and even dystopian space travel – the latter in his 2014 blockbuster Interstellar – to feed his storytelling.

For his latest venture, the WWII epic Dunkirk, the Oscar-winner could have taken a back seat and let the blood, gore and cockpit chases do the work. After all, the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops is a war story that’s ripe with horror and tragedy. But that’s not how Nolan operates.

Instead, he has created a deftly-woven narrative, based on personal tales and individual conflicts. Speaking to TheJournal.ie recently, Nolan described his approach:

It’s about OK, let’s try and put the audience in the place of people who are actually going through these events…

Even the casting feels shielded from the usual Hollywood trappings. Alongside big hitters like Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy and even Harry Styles, the film is carried by a group of relative unknowns, from Irishman Barry Keoghan to England’s Fionn Whitehead.

By scaling other elements back, Nolan hoped Dunkirk would pay respect to what was already a weighty piece of history. As he said:

You build the maze of the narrative and then you work your way through it. In this case, that world, that maze was already there… People talk about the Dunkirk Spirit. It’s not just history, it’s a living part of the culture.

Of course, a thriller wouldn’t be a thriller without a few explosions and dogfights, but even these are delivered with true Nolan-esque authenticity. The director made a point of completing the majority of special effects on camera, rather than in an editing room.

That meant months blowing up ships, filming underwater, and fitting 24kg worth of IMAX camera into a tiny Spitfire plane – a tricky manoeuvre that involved “reorienting the camera” and fitting an attachment to have the lens in the right place.

Thomas described the film as “definitely” the most difficult the pair have ever made – but it could very well be the defining story of their careers.

Want to see it for yourself? Dunkirk is on general release from 21st July. Check out the film’s official site here.

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Warner Bros.

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