Christopher Nolan Didn’t Want a Script for ‘Dunkirk’

"It’s almost like I want to just stage it," the director said.

August 4, 2017 12:28 pm

Christopher Nolan, director of Dunkirk, originally considered shooting the World War II film without a script.

The Hollywood Reporter says that this information came during a conversation between Nolan and his brother Jonathan that was published with the Dunkirk screenplay.

During the interview, performed by Jonathan, Nolan says that he became so immersed in the research he was doing for the film that he felt a script-free approach might work.

“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, according to Hollywood Reporter. 

At this point, Nathan Crowley, a frequent collaborator/production designer, was already interested in the project. So Nolan pitched the idea to Crowley and Emma Thomas, Nolan’s wife and producing partner.

Part of the interest in a no-script movie was that Nolan says he felt like he had already mastered films driven emotionally by dialogue. He was the writer-director of Inception and Interstellar. 

However, Thomas quickly shot down the idea and told Nolan that it wasn’t going to work.

The script ended up being one of Nolan’s shortest scripts at only 76 pages.

Dunkirk portrays the evacuation of the French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers from Dunkirk beaches from May 26 to June 4. It was a “shockingly effective, truly unique amphibious rescue” that saved 330,000 soldiers.

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