Upcoming World War II movie Dunkirk clocks in at a surprisingly short runtime for a Christopher Nolan movie. The director’s latest, due out July 21 via Warner Bros., is about the famous WWII battle and evacuation mission in France. But that doesn’t mean that it will be a typical movie about war; Nolan has described it as more of a suspense movie that happens to be about a famous war battle.
One trait that is typical of both war movies and Nolan’s work is considerable length. Nolan’s last two films, Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises, each clocked in at over 2 hours and 40 minutes. A nearly three-hour runtime is commonplace for war epics. But Dunkirk is certainly not like most movies about war, and its shorter-than-usual runtime is the latest indication of that.
As first reported by THR, Dunkirk clocks in at a surprisingly short 1 hour and 47 minutes. It’s the shortest movie since Nolan’s directorial debut, 1998’s Following, which was only 1 hour, 9 minutes long. It’s especially short compared to Nolan’s more recent directorial efforts; Interstellar, was 2 hours, 49 minutes long. All three of his Batman movies were 2 hours, 20 minutes or longer. Dunkirk marks the first Nolan movie to clock in at under two hours since 2002’s Insomnia, which was 1 hour, 58 minutes long.
Dunkirk is also short compared to fellow 2017 summer releases. Transformers: The Last Knight clocks in at 2 hours, 29 minutes. Wonder Woman is 2 hours, 21 minutes while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is 2 hours, 15 minutes. Spider-Man: Homecoming, which comes out two weeks prior to Dunkirk on July 7, is said to be 2 hours, 10 minutes. THR notes that the runtime does include the credits, which alone can take up to 10 minutes.
When Nolan explained that Dunkirk would tell the story of the iconic battle from three separate viewpoints, it felt as though the movie would be as long as any he’d made in his career — certainly as long as an average war movie. For Dunkirk to clock in at under two hours suggests that there will be little breathing room for viewers. Recent clips look as intense as anything Nolan’s made, so the shorter runtime could actually benefit Dunkirk in the end.
Dunkirk’s runtime could be a good thing for the kind of movie Nolan tried to make, but it’s just another sign that it will not be like most other movies about war. The movie will likely be relentlessly paced, unlike the ebbs and flows of many war epics. As a PG-13 movie, Dunkirk might disappoint fans who are expecting another Saving Private Ryan. But those who know what to expect from a Nolan movie will likely find plenty to like about it.
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