Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan has confirmed that he did indeed find a way to sneak his favorite actor and good-luck-charm Michael Caine into the powerful WWII action film, though it’s only Caine’s iconic voice that makes an appearance. Dunkirk tells the real-life story of the harrowing, world-changing events that took place after 400,000 British and French troops found themselves stranded on the beaches of the title city with the Germans bearing down on them from land, sea and air. The film has already proven to be a huge hit with audiences, pulling in $50 million in its first weekend of release.
After conquering the box office with a run of blockbusters including his wildly-popular string of Batman films, Nolan set out to make a different kind of action movie with Dunkirk – a movie that puts the audience into the middle of war in a more immersive, heart-pounding way than ever before. Nolan employs every technique he learned in his years making popcorn films, and crafts a movie that puts the viewer right there with the soldiers, sailors and pilots struggling to survive amid an unrelenting onslaught.
One signature Christopher Nolan move is to always cast Michael Caine, the famed Oscar-winning British actor – and though Caine doesn’t appear on-screen amid the carnage and heroism of Dunkirk he does low-key find his way into the movie. As a few people noticed, Caine’s voice can be heard early in the movie coming over Spitfire pilot Tom Hardy’s headset while he’s flying over the English Channel on his way to engage the Luftwaffe in the film’s dazzling dogfighting sequences. Nolan confirmed the cameo in an interview with NJ.com (via EW) earlier this month:
“It’s shocking to me that a lot of people haven’t [noticed Caine] when he has really one of the most distinctive voices in cinema. I wanted very much to squeeze him in here. It’s a bit of a nod to his character in Battle of Britain. And also, it’s Michael. He has to be in all my films, after all.”
Nolan first worked with Caine on Batman Begins, where the iconic actor played the iconic comic book character Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler (a role Caine reprised in both sequels). Caine also played key roles in Nolan’s underrated magician film The Prestige, his Oscar-nominated mind-bender Inception and his science fiction opus Interstellar. Before hooking up with Nolan, Caine had already established as a major screen star over the course of many decades, scoring his first Oscar nomination in 1967 for Alfie and finally winning one in 1987 for his role in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. Caine won a second Oscar for 2000’s The Cider House Rules.
Though Caine’s voice is certainly one of the most well-known (and most-often-imitated) in Hollywood, it’s understandable that people would miss his cameo amid the heart-pounding action of Dunkirk. In addition to the film’s intense visuals and attention-demanding non-linear narrative approach, the booming sound design is enough to rattle your bones (veterans of Dunkirk say the real battle wasn’t as loud as the movie) – and as if that weren’t enough, there’s also Hans Zimmer’s nerve-jangling score driving home the action. Like all the performances in the movie, Caine’s small vocal cameo is blended with the other elements in a way that creates a whole-bodied, seamless and overwhelmingly emotional experience. Perhaps Dunkirk will finally earn Christopher Nolan that long-awaited Oscar.
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