World War II. The enemy forces have cornered hundreds of thousands of British and French soldiers on the French coast at Dunkirk. A small number of primarily-French soldiers are guarding the perimeter, where the British and French soldiers are amassed, which is getting increasingly smaller as enemy forces advance. Most of those British and French soldiers are now on the beach waiting for destroyers to come and take them back to Britain.
Each of the countries are taking care of their own. The British are leaving first and among those the wounded get first priority despite their taking up seven times the space of the able-bodied soldiers. An issue with Dunkirk is that there is only one dock the destroyers can access, which needs to be protected from the enemy bombs. As such, Churchill, newly elected, has put out a call for civilian watercraft to head to Dunkirk both to transport supplies and to transport soldiers from the beach to the destroyers or back to Britain if at all possible. Within this situation, four general stories are told.
In one, Commander Bolton, the top British naval officer on the ground, knows deep in his heart that the soldiers are largely sitting ducks on the beach as the enemy planes fly over. He knows that the situation is a Catch-22 for the British in that they need to bring as many soldiers safely home as possible at the depletion of their military resources, which in turn they need to preserve for the day if, but more likely when, the enemies make their way onto British soil.
In the second story, a squadron of three RAF spitfires are among those limited air resources that are embarking in dog fights with enemy planes, while protecting the soldiers on the ground. In the process, they have to ensure their own safety in order to provide what is needed for the ground soldiers, which includes knowing about things like fuel levels and having enough to make their way back to home base whenever required.
In the third story, two soldiers meet on the beach, the two of them knowing that the longer they remain on the beach, the likelier they are not to survive this skirmish. As such, they try to do whatever they need to to make it onto one of those destroyers or any other watercraft making its way back to Britain. However, making it aboard a ship does not necessarily ensure their survival.
And in the final story, Mr. Dawson, his young-adult son Peter and their 17-year-old friend George are on Dawson’s pleasure craft making its way to Dunkirk to do their part in the war effort, all realizing the dangers involved. They have to decide at each step along the way if they will focus on personal problems or if they will continue on to assist in the war, as was their first priority when they left Britain.
Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. Its ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. The film is a British, American, French, and Dutch co-production, and was distributed by Warner Bros.
Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Nolan sought instead to create suspense from cinematography and music. Filming began in May 2016 in Dunkirk and ended that September in Los Angeles, when post-production began. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock. Dunkirk has extensive practical effects, and employed thousands of extras as well as historic boats from the evacuation, and period aeroplanes.
The film premiered on 13 July 2017 at Odeon Leicester Square in London, and was released in the United Kingdom and the United States on 21 July in IMAX, 70 mm, and 35 mm film formats. It is the highest-grossing World War II film of all time, taking $525 million worldwide. Dunkirk received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, and cinematography; some critics called it Nolan’s best work, and one of the greatest war films. It received the Best Editing award at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, eight nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, three at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, and eight at the 90th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Nolan, his first ever Oscar nomination for directing.
Dunkirk grossed $188.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $337.2 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $525.6 million, against a production budget of $100 million. Globally, it is the highest-grossing World War II film (not adjusting for inflation), surpassing Saving Private Ryan’s $481.8 million.
In the United States and Canada, industry tracking for the opening weekend ranged from Variety’s $30–40 million to Deadline.com’s $35 million, while BoxOffice speculated an opening weekend of $55 million, and IndieWire $50 million and $500 million worldwide. Dunkirk made $19.8 million on its first day, including $5.5 million from preview screenings.
It went on to finish first at the box office with $50.1 million, marking the third-largest opening for a World War II film (behind Captain America: The First Avenger’s $62.1 million and Pearl Harbor’s $59.1 million), as well as the fourth largest of Nolan’s career. In its second weekend, it grossed $26.6 million (a drop of 44.3%), beating newcomer The Emoji Movie to the top spot. The film grossed $17.1 million in its third weekend, second to newcomer The Dark Tower ($19.2 million), and was again second in its fourth week, behind Annabelle: Creation with $10.9 million.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard,James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance,Tom Hardy
Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan
Production Design by: Nathan Crowley
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Film Editing by: Lee Smith
Costume Design by: Jeffrey Kurland
Set Decoration by: Emmanuel Delis, Gary Fettis
Art Direction by: Toby Britton, Oliver Goodier, Kevin Ishioka, Eggert Ketilsson, Benjamin Nowicki, Erik Osusky
Music by: Hans Zimmer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense war experience and some language.
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: July 21, 2017