Christopher Nolan is a director known for big-budget genre fare such as the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar, earning a reputation as one of the industry’s premiere helmsmen. For his next project, Dunkirk, he’s trying his hand at something a bit different. The film is a drama set in the early days of World War II, revolving around the evacuation of the French city, Dunkirk. In addition to directing, Nolan also wrote the screenplay. Warner Bros. is distributing worldwide, and has pegged the movie for a July 2017 premiere.

Recent photos from the set seemed to indicate that Nolan was close to beginning production, and it indeed turns out that’s the case. In a press release, WB announced that principal photography on Dunkirk has commenced, as well as providing an official synopsis and cast list for the film. As previously reported, the ensemble is a mix of actors famous for their earlier collaborations with Nolan, as well as fresh faces to his brand of filmmaking.

Here is the plot summary:

“Dunkirk” opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.

Christopher Nolan Christopher Nolans Dunkirk Official Synopsis & Cast Announced

Newcomer Fionn Whitehead is said to be portraying the lead, and he has a talented group of veterans working around him. Other headliners include Tom Hardy, Bridge of Spies Oscar winner Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Cillian Murphy. Rounding out the cast are Aneurin Barnard, One Direction singer Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan and Tom Glynn-Carney. Nolan has long been one with an ability to attract several A-listers to his films, and Dunkirk looks to be more of the same, in that regard. Interestingly enough, though, this appears to be Nolan’s first film since 2002’s Insomnia that does not include his “good luck charm” Michael Caine (unless he joins later on).

Though Dunkirk is not a comic book adaptation or a sci-fi film, viewers should expect the scale and scope to be similar when compared to Nolan’s genre works. His cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar) is shooting Dunkirk with a combination of 65mm and IMAX film. With the premium format being incorporated, there are sure to be visually stunning set pieces as Nolan stages World War II battles. Dating back to the opening bank robbery sequence from 2008’s The Dark Knight, he’s always had an eye for using IMAX in new and creative ways, adding a layer to the action. It will be fascinating to see what he comes up with this time around.

With Dunkirk being set in World War II, there are sure to be some curious if the film is a legitimate awards player for Nolan. The Academy certainly has a fondness for works placed in that period of history, and many cinephiles believe Nolan has been snubbed throughout his career, specifically citing Dark Knight and Inception. This could be an opportunity for them to recognize one of this generation’s top directors, considering the final product delivers on its immense potential.

Whether it does remains to be seen. Nolan’s previous outing, Interstellar, proved to be one of the more polarizing films of 2014. At the same token, that movie has its fair share of supporters who appreciated the ambition behind the production. There’s no denying that a new film from Nolan is always an interesting proposition, and chances are Dunkirk will be worth watching on the big screen.

NEXT: Dunkirk Set Photos

Dunkirk hits theaters July 21, 2017.

Source: Warner Bros.

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