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Christopher Nolan Explains Why ‘Dunkirk’ is Rated PG-13: ‘It Is Not a War Film’

"'Dunkirk' is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film," the filmmaker said.


Warner Bros.

Although his highly anticipated next feature, “Dunkirk,” is set during World War II, director Christopher Nolan has been vocal that he does not see it as a war film, but more of a story of survival. That’s why it’s been rated PG-13 for “intense war experience and some language,” instead of the R-rating most war films tend to share.

READ MORE: ‘Dunkirk’: Christopher Nolan Explains Why the WWII Story Is in His ‘DNA’ 

In an interview with the Associated Press (via The Playlist), the director more fully explained the rating, and how it speaks to what he is trying to achieve with the new film.

“All of my big blockbuster films have been PG-13. It’s a rating I feel comfortable working with totally. ‘Dunkirk’ is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film,” Nolan said. “So while there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way. I would really like lots of different types of people to get something out of the experience.”

READ MORE: Christopher Nolan Teases Tricky ‘Dunkirk’ Storytelling: ‘The Film is Told From Three Points of View’

Based on a true story, “Dunkirk” chronicles the hundreds of thousands of Allied troops who were stationed on a beach and surrounded by the enemy German army during the early days of WWII. The film stars Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, as well as Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, One Direction singer Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney and newcomer Fionn Whitehead.

It opens in theaters nationwide on July 21.

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