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Nolan's "Dunkirk" will feature over 100 minutes of IMAX material

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Tyler Purcell Date: 05.08.2016
Christopher Nolan is back, this time armed with an all-new 70mm lab in the UK. Nolan has decided to shoot his new movie "Dunkirk" entirely in 70mm. This decision comes at a cost obviously, in his previous films the decision to shoot 4 perf 35mm anamorphic was clearly one of cost savings, timing of the limited equipment availability and of course, speed of lab work. It's a lot harder to work on large format when there isn't a lab next door.

Dunkirk is the story of the mass evacuation of troops, stuck in the little down of Dunkirk during the beginning of WWII, 1940 to be exact. History would make this incident, the largest sea rescue in history. Over 338 thousand soldiers from several countries, were pinned down in Dunkirk, cutoff from supply lines and worse of all, constantly being pushed closer and closer until they were literally trapped in the town of Dunkirk. That many people in such a small area, the Nazi's were eager to take them. Heck, had they been taken, perhaps the outcome of the war would have been quite different.

The rescue started with British merchant ships, but soon there just wasn't enough ships or time. As the luftwaffe dropped bombs and attacked allied aircraft, the men boarded beached ships, many of which sunk right there on the beach. Local people and those from the UK came out with any type of boat imaginable in order to make the rescue more successful. Once the British troops were safe, there was another wave of ships sent back to pickup everyone else. Unfortunately between 30 and 40 thousand troops, the people on the front lines, were taken prisoner. The whole event took place from the middle of May 1941 to the first days of June.

The actual story within the war framework, is yet to be known, but it's clear Nolan wanted to put the big air, land and sea battle on the big screen, using the largest film format possible. Nolan's Dunkirk will feature over 100 minutes of IMAX material, according to sources close to the production. So far almost all of the still and video images coming from set are of the IMAX camera, with only a few brief moments with the 5/70 Panavision cameras. So far the production has been shooting on location in France, close to where the actual rescue happened. They will then move to Holland for exteriors, UK for exteriors/interiors and finish in Los Angeles sometime a the end of the year for most likely studio work.

The cast of Dunkirk includes; Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy and Cillian Murphy, one of Nolan's favorites. Dunkirk also re-unites the main crew that brought 'Interstellar' to life... Hoyte Van Hoytema heading up cinematography. Hans Zimmer writing the score. Lee Smith editing. Nathan Crowley production designer and of course, Emma Thomas Nolan's Producer.
More in 70mm reading:

"Dunkirk" in the splendour of 7OMM

Panavision and the Resurrecting of Dinosaur Technology

in70mm.com's IMAX Page

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in “Interstellar”

Internet link:

"Dunkirk" Teaser

Tyler Purcell
Since Nolan is such a purist and despises the over-use of computer effects, he is working very hard on Dunkirk to do everything in camera. This includes hiring hundreds of extras, blowing up air planes and sinking ships. So far the production has been littered with huge stunt sequences, most of them using models and/or sections of destroyed objects. The production does look a bit relaxed, without a video village and the normal rigs that go along with standard modern filmmaking. There are many stills of Nolan running the camera himself and Hoyte standing by on the side. It's reminiscent of a smaller budget production, only the content itself is a rather large scale.

What we currently know about distribution of this movie is pretty vague at best. The teaser trailer, gives us some insight to Nolan's beliefs, stating the movie will be projected on 70mm, 35mm and IMAX film. These are of course, the same formats Nolan released 'Interstellar' in and looks to be doing the same thing again. This time around however, Nolan does have something up his sleeve, the fleet of almost 100 70mm projectors installed for 'Hateful Eight'. Could Warner strike a deal with the Weinstein's and perhaps loan those projectors? Would they even attempt that? Only time will tell. Nolan does have enough clout to release the movie on film only, but I doubt that will happen as Warner has too much invested for something to go wrong.

So that's what we know so far, it's pretty interesting stuff for me, being a HUGE WWII fan and of course, loving the whole film aspect and Nolan's prior works. So in the next year, there will be more updates as time goes on, mostly due to my excitement. On a side note, rumors say PT Anderson is prepping his next movie, currently untitled... but starring Daniel Day-Lewis and to be shot entirely on large format. Due to Anderson's obsession with VistaVision, I have no doubt he'd go that route if the Panavision 70mm cameras are too busy for him. So we MAY "fingers crossed" see, TWO NEW 70mm releases in 2017, only time will tell!
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Updated 07-01-23