Last week, Warner Bros. released the extended trailer of their 2017 summer blockbuster, "Dunkirk." Directed and co-produced by Christopher Nolan, this retelling of the mass evacuation of Allied Forces from French beaches during World War II is likely to be the standout moment of the blockbuster cinema season in 2017, and here’s why.
In an era of immense shareholder pressure on production companies to be risk averse, sequels and remakes make sense to the bottom line. What doesn’t make sense is for one of the most gifted and committed directors of our generation to dip his toe in a new genre to re-tell a story seldom told. Credit must be given to Warner Bros. for backing such a project.
Original screenplays on this scale are rarely handed out, but under Nolan’s guile, Warner Bros will be rewarded with what is already looking like a World War drama to match Saving Private Ryan and Das Boot. Much of the team from Interstellar has collaborated on "Dunkirk," including cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, composer Hans Zimmer, editor Lee Smith, and production designer Nathan Crowly. Already, this starts to look like the blockbuster equivalent of an NBA all-star team with Nolan at the helm as the proverbial LeBron James.
"Dunkirk" will appeal to cinephiles worldwide due to Nolan's physical approach to filmmaking. The movie was filmed entirely on large-format 65mm and IMAX film cameras. Nolan has been one of the biggest proponents of shooting on film in Hollywood. While the film versus digital debate has been widely discussed, Nolan’s idealism and romance toward the analog medium should be applauded. Nolan is well known for going the extra mile in production to avoid using CGI at all costs, which gives a tangible feel that is clearly visible at several points in the two minute trailer.
With the ending already determined by history, it will be compelling to see Nolan’s telling of the Miracle of Dunkirk. Does the extended trailer give away anything else? Well, apart from the drowning of one quarter of One Direction, the trailer lays out the hopelessness of almost 350,000 Allied troops who have been cornered by German forces. Expect some delightful performances from an A-list British and Irish cast headed up by Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy.
Also, expect to see Nolan’s trademark non-linear storytelling, along with personal journeys of walking a line between hard choices and doing the right thing. Writer/directors of original screenplays that are trusted to spend $5 million to purchase, then crash, a vintage German Luftwaffe plane are few and far between. This speaks volumes to the reputation that Nolan and his film making team demand. In 2017 we will see releases of a new adaptation of Beauty & The Beast, a new Spiderman flick, and Fast & The Furious 8. The trailer for "Dunkirk" represents a hope for blockbuster filmmaking in 2017, and following The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar, something tells us Nolan is only just getting started.