Christopher Nolan Almost Shot Dunkirk Without A Script

Posted 2017/08/04 1815 0

His original idea for the movie was to shoot the entire thing without a formal script.


A conversation between Nolan and his brother Jonathan (Westworld) published alongside the Dunkirk screenplay reveals that the filmmaker originally wanted to shoot the movie without a script entirely. During the interview, the Dark Knight director says he became so connected to the details of the real-life story during his research that he believed he could make the film work without the use of a screenplay.

“I got to a point where I understood the scope and movement and the history of what I wanted the film to address, because it’s very simple geography,” Nolan says via THR. He then brought the idea to production designer Nathan Crowley and wife/producing partner Emma Thomas.

“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,” he says. For the writer-director of Inception and Interstellar, films heavy with exposition, such an approach seems completely abnormal. But the proposed departure was intentional.

“I felt like I’d kind of mastered that form,” Nolan says in regard to films driven emotionally by dialogue.

However, Nolan noted the idea of filming without a script didn’t last long, saying, “Emma looked at me like I was a bit crazy and was like, okay, that’s not really gonna work.”

But even though Nolan did write a script for Dunkirk it was still non-traditional. He says he wrote the 76-page screenplay “very, very quickly,” and of course that length is mighty short compared to most traditional scripts, especially for a war film. For comparison, notoriously dialogue-centric writer Aaron Sorkin recently handed over a 201-page script for 2015’s Steve Jobs.

For those who want more of Nolan’s layered and thought-provoking work, however, he does offer some reassurance. “I will be coming back to dialogue.”

Dunkirk” has been noted by many moviegoers as being especially loud, prompting some to complain about the sound mix. That hasn’t stopped the film from receiving critical acclaim and two consecutive weekends atop the box office, however.