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The Unusual Way Christopher Nolan Originally Wanted To Shoot Dunkirk

Kenneth Branagh and James D'Arcy in Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan delivered his latest movie, Dunkirk, to theaters last month. Looking at his resume, from Memento to Interstellar, Nolan is a director who likes to include a lot of exposition, but Dunkirk was a change of pace, as the movie was surprisingly light on dialogue. Oddly enough, though, Nolan could have taken this further, as he originally wanted to shoot the World War II movie without a script. Early into pre-production, he felt he understood the "scope, movement and history" of what he wanted the movie to address enough that he was comfortable moving ahead without any prepared lines for the actors. He eventually told Emma Thomas, his wife and producing partner, and Nathan Crowley, the production designer, the following:

"I said, 'I don't want a script. Because I just want to show it,' it's almost like I want to just stage it. And film it.

Christopher Nolan revealed his original approach to Dunkirk while chatting with his brother, Jonathan, in an interview that is included with the published Dunkirk screenplay (via THR). Shooting a movie without a script would understandably sound crazy to a lot of people in the film industry, even for something like Dunkirk which isn't dialogue heavy. But by that point, Nolan felt that he'd "mastered" passing along emotion through dialogue, so he wanted to try something different. However, Emma Thomas was able to convince him not to continue without penning a script. Nolan continued:

Emma looked at me like I was a bit crazy and was like, okay, that's not really gonna work.

Upon realizing it was better to take the traditional approach, Christopher Nolan wrote Dunkirk "very, very quickly," and at 76 pages, it's one of his shortest scripts. And for those who enjoy Christopher Nolan's writing, he's assured his supporters that he will be "coming back to dialogue" in the future. So we need not worry about him trying to pull this 'no script' idea again.

Chronicling the real-life Dunkirk evacuation in northern France during World War II in 1940, Dunkirk has been met with largely positive reception since its release, currently ranking at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's also performed well commercially, making nearly $270 million worldwide. Its main cast included Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles, James D'Arcy, Jack Lowden and Fionn Whitehead. If Dunkirk follows in the footsteps of Interstellar, than it may garner some attention come next year during the Academy Awards.

Dunkirk is still playing in theaters, and you can also look through our 2017 movie guide to find out when the rest of the year's upcoming releases are arriving. Once we learn what Christopher Nolan's next project is, we here at CinemaBlend be sure to let you know.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.