A new video details the unique production methods of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the benefits of seeing it in the IMAX format. Nolan’s latest, which follows World War II’s famous Dunkirk evacuation mission from three different points-of-view, was shot almost entirely with IMAX cameras. It will be projected on 70mm film in 125 theaters across the country, the widest such release in 25 years.
Nolan is no stranger to shooting movies in IMAX, as he did so for much of Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises. But shooting about 70 percent of Dunkirk in IMAX, while also fitting the cameras as closely as possible to the action, presented all kinds of fresh challenges for the director and his crew. A new video released on Wednesday details the work that went into capturing the movie the way Nolan envisioned it.
You can watch the new Dunkirk featurette above, via the official IMAX YouTube channel. Nolan and several key members of the production speak in detail about the work that went into bringing the movie to life on 70mm IMAX film, as a means of convincing viewers to see it in the format wherever possible. Director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema described IMAX as “a very visceral window to the world” and the way that he and Nolan had wanted to shoot Dunkirk from the start. Nolan himself described the format as “virtual reality without the goggles.”
The unusual size and weight of IMAX cameras compared to others made it difficult for Nolan and his crew to fit them onto planes for airborne scenes and fit them into tighter areas. Producer Emma Thomas remarked that in using IMAX cameras in unorthodox situations, Nolan created shots that would not have been nearly as breathtaking — or even possible — with CGI or smaller formats.
Shooting much of Dunkirk with handheld IMAX cameras instead of smaller, lighter equipment allowed Nolan to bring the battle’s sense of chaos and disorientation to unheard-of levels. The movie is certainly worth checking out in a 70mm format for Nolan fans, as well as cinephiles in general. With the making of Dunkirk, Nolan has taken an oft-used format and utilized it in a fresh, unique way that hasn’t been presented on screen before.
Unfortunately, the full 70mm IMAX version of Dunkirk is going to be a very limited release, but tickets are on sale. Even if you can’t catch the movie on a 70mm projector, the sheer action could be enough for Nolan to deliver another excellent movie. Early reactions have praised Dunkirk as a riveting exercise in suspense, the kind of experience that can be enjoyed with or without the IMAX format.
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