We’re still several months away from Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” arriving in theaters, but the director recently sat down with Premiere magazine to tease some new storytelling details. In typical Nolan fashion, he’ll be taking a relatively simple story and making it a little more tricky and ambitious.
“The film is told from three points of view: The air (planes), the land (on the beach) and the sea (the evacuation by the navy),” Nolan told the magazine (via The Playlist). “For the soldiers embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities.”
The official “Dunkirk” trailer released last December teased this kind of triptych storytelling device. It appears Tom Hardy will be in the sky, Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance will be out at sea, and newcomer Fionn Whitehead will be on the beach. But the challenge of “Dunkrik” is that all of these stories weren’t taking place simultaneously.
Nolan elaborated on the tricky three-setting structure: “On land, some stayed one week stuck on the beach. On the water, the events lasted a maximum day; And if you were flying to Dunkirk, the British spitfires would carry an hour of fuel.”
So how exactly does Nolan manage to tell three different stories that all took place over different durations of time? Well, he’s not spilling all his secrets. “To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata,” he said. “Hence the complicated structure; Even if the story, once again, is very simple.”
Nolan is notoriously tight-lipped about his projects, so consider this a rare opportunity to get in his head prior to the movie’s release.
“Dunkirk” opens in theaters nationwide July 21. For more from Nolan’s interview with Premiere, check out The Playlist’s longer translation.