A new set of behind-the-scenes photos from Dunkirk reveal the scale of Christopher Nolan’s work. The director’s latest has garnered widespread critical acclaim and proven a box office success, with a chance to be one of the highest-grossing movies ever made about World War II. Nolan’s retelling of the famous 1940 evacuation is unique in that it is rated PG-13, runs under two hours, features mostly real sets with minimal CGI, and was filmed mostly with IMAX cameras.
Much of Dunkirk depicts British soldiers simply fighting for survival across three different timelines, whether it’s dodging bombs on the beach, escaping from sinking ships, or outlasting the enemy in an air battle. Many of these scenes were shot in an intimate fashion, as the IMAX cameras captured every last detail in close quarters. Some newly revealed behind-the-scenes photos show how these scenes were filmed – and give a fresh look at the incredible amount of work that Nolan and his crew put in behind the cameras to bring them to life.
The new photos were uploaded to Imgur on Saturday. Nolan can be seen right in the trenches with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema in a number of photos. One photo shows the director in the water with actor Jack Lowden, who plays a spitfire pilot, before filming a harrowing scene involving a crashed plane. Another depicts Nolan filming the opening scene, dropping German flyers to the British soldiers himself.
Other photos reveal a partial set of a plane, one of many real models built in lieu of CGI; an overhead shot of van Hoytema filming a scene that takes place underneath the deck of a doomed rescue ship; and a look at van Hoytema shooting close-ups of actors Fionn Whitehead and Aneurin Barnard as they hide out. Additionally, there’s a photo of Nolan on the set of the Moonstone yacht, a real boat built in the 1930s that was used in filming for six weeks. The boat plays a major role in the movie. Cast members Lowden, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Glynn-Carney can be seen on the boat.
Even though Dunkirk was shot mostly with IMAX cameras, many of its most intense scenes have a claustrophobic feel to them. It’s not easy to get a sense of how involved the making of these scenes really was until you get to see what’s happening on the other side of the lens. Nolan and his crew’s extraordinary attention to detail and painstaking efforts to recreate the action are big reasons why Dunkirk is such a great early success and will likely get plenty of attention come awards season.
Though these photos do give a fascinating glimpse at Nolan’s work on some of Dunkirk’s most powerful scenes, they mostly focus on the movie’s more intimate moments. There’s nothing in here that shows some of the more large-scale set pieces, such as scenes involving huge World War II ships or vast armies along the French beaches. Nevertheless, the photos are an eye-opening look into how much work Nolan and his crew had to put into making the scenes as authentic and engaging as possible.
Next: Dunkirk Ending Explained
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