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Trivia for Dunkirk

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  • The 10th feature length film directed by Christopher Nolan. If his short film Doodlebug (1997) and documentary short Quay (2015) are included, his 12th film overall.
  • This is the seventh Christopher Nolan film to be distributed by Warner Bros.
  • The screenplay was 76 pages long. In fact, Christopher Nolan originally intended to make an improvised film.
  • This was Kenneth Branagh's third World War II movie. He also appeared in Conspiracy (2001) and Valkyrie (2008). If counting Swing Kids (1993) whose story takes place a few years before the war, then it would mark as the fourth WWII film he starred in.
  • This will be Tom Hardy's third World War Two project since Colditz (2005).
  • Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2016 Academy Awards for The Revenant (2015) and Bridge of Spies (2015), respectively. Rylance won the award.
  • Continuing his advocacy for film over digital formats, Christopher Nolan chose to shoot the movie in a combination of 65/70mm IMAX film and Super Panavision 65mm film in order to achieve the maximum possible image quality. Following The Master (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015), Dunkirk (2017) was the third major motion picture of the 2010s to be primarily shot and shown theatrically in 70mm.
  • This was cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema's second collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. The previous was Interstellar (2014).
  • By the tradition, Christopher Nolan decided to use the real naval destroyers instead of CGI for sea battle sequences in this film. He also used cardboard cut-out props of soldiers and military vehicles placed in the far background of shots to create the illusion of a large army. At one point there were 62 ships at sea during filming, 12 of which were actual 'Little Ships' used in Operation Dynamo.
  • Christopher Nolan watched silent films for inspiration to fill crowd scenes with suspense by using details only.
  • It is the first Christopher Nolan movie to be based on historical events. All of his other movies have either been original scripts, remakes, novel/short story adaptations or comic-book adaptations.
  • Andrew Simpson was reportedly in talks for one of the main characters.
  • The cast includes two Oscar winners, Mark Rylance and Michael Caine, and two Oscar nominees, Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh. Coincidentally they have all been recognized in the Supporting Actor category.
  • Film debut of Harry Styles.
  • This is director Christopher Nolan's first movie since Insomnia (2002) not to feature Michael Caine.
  • Christopher Nolan's first war movie.
  • 1,500 extras, a crane and a spitfire were used to recreate the miraculous evacuation of 338,000 allied troops.
  • Urk, a small fishing town in The Netherlands, was used as a base of operations for filming on the IJsselmeer (the first two letters of the name are capitalized because they are treated as a single letter). Urk is pronounced exactly the same as the second part of the movie name: dunkURK. When the movie came out, everyone in the town wanted to see it but Urk does not have its own cinema, so to make sure that some people in the town could see the movie in their neighborhood, a cinema-truck (a type of moving cinema with few seats) was set up.
  • Urk, a small fishing town in The Netherlands, was used as a base of operation for filming on the IJsselmeer.
  • Lots of filming was done in and around Urk, a small fishing town in Flevoland, the Netherlands. Urk is pronounced exactly the same as the second part of the movie name: dunkURK.
  • Two historic fishing boats were used as a background decor, the UK 12 and the UK 114. However, UK does not stand for United Kingdom. It is a Dutch harbor-code for Urk, where much of the filming was done.
  • Shot mostly in France under the name "Bodega Bay."
  • Harry Styles had a personal bodyguard on set, because of the unwanted attention.
  • The first Christopher Nolan film since The Prestige (2006) to not receive funding from Legendary Pictures.
  • This is the third Christopher Nolan film to be written entirely by Nolan himself; the others were Following (1998) and Inception (2010). Memento (2000) was based on a short story by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. The Dark Knight (2008), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014) were all co-written by Jonathan Nolan. Batman Begins (2005) was co-written by David S. Goyer. Christopher Nolan's only uncredited written film is Insomnia (2002), which Nolan wrote the final draft of script to shoot with.
  • This film marked the sixth collaboration between director Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer. They previously worked together on The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Zimmer received an Oscar nomination for both Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). Zimmer later received another Oscar nomination for the score to Dunkirk.
  • In order to avoid the use of computer generated imagery the production had cardboard cut-out props of soldiers and military vehicles placed in the far background of shots to create the illusion of a large army.
  • This is the third collaboration between Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan after Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • "The Hollywood Reporter" stated that Christopher Nolan received a $20-million salary against 20% of the box-office gross, the biggest deal for any director along with Peter Jackson, who received the same amount with King Kong (2005); however, "Vanity Fair" reported that Nolan agreed to receive a low up-front salary in exchange for a large back-end percentage.
  • Reunites Christopher Nolan with Hans Zimmer (music), Lee Smith (editor), Hoyte Van Hoytema (photography), Nathan Crowley (production designer), John Papsidera (casting), Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. Most of the crew has been working with Nolan since The Dark Knight Trilogy, except van Hoytema, who has worked with him since Interstellar (2014).
  • Christopher Nolan's first period film since The Prestige (2006), 11 years before this film's release.
  • The film had a five-minute IMAX prologue that played in front of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and Kong: Skull Island (2017). This is the third time a Christopher Nolan film has had a prologue released six months before the film was. The other two were The Dark Knight (2008) IMAX prologue played in front of I Am Legend (2007) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) IMAX prologue played in front of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011).
  • Marks the fifth collaboration between Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan.
  • The Halt Order was agreed by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, commander of Army Group A, and Gen. G?nther von Kluge, commander of the Fourth Army, at the request of the tank unit commander Gen. Paul von Kleist, who had lost 50% of his armored forces and needed time to regroup. After the war von Runstedt tried to blame the Halt Order on Adolf Hitler. Von Rundstedt's biographer conceded that this "does not represent the whole truth", because the original impetus for a pause came from Kleist and von Rundstedt himself.
  • Told from three points of view: on the beach with the infantry (including Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles), the evacuation by the navy (featuring Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance, showing how civilians came to the rescue) and then in the air (with Tom Hardy engaging in plane combat). Speaking about the narrative structure in "Premiere" magazine, Christopher Nolan stated: "For the soldiers who embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities. 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. To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata. Hence the complicated structure; even if the story is very simple. Do not repeat it to the studio: it will be my most experimental film."
  • In regards to the Battle of Dunkirk's importance, director Christopher Nolan stated, "This is an essential moment in the history of the Second World War. If this evacuation had not been a success, Great Britain would have been obliged to capitulate. And the whole world would have been lost, or would have known a different fate: the Germans would undoubtedly have conquered Europe, the U.S. would not have returned to war. It is a true point of rupture in war and in history of the world. A decisive moment. And the success of the evacuation allowed [Winston Churchill] to impose the idea of a moral victory, which allowed him to galvanize his troops like civilians and to impose a spirit of resistance while the logic of this sequence should have been that of surrender. Militarily, it is a defeat; on the human plane, it is a colossal victory."
  • Christopher Nolan cited silent movies such as Greed (1924), Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) and Sunrise (1927) as inspirations for this movie's crowd scenes: "I spent a lot of time reviewing the silent films for crowd scenes--the way extras move, evolve, how the space is staged and how the cameras capture it, the views used." Nolan also studied A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and The Wages of Fear (1953) to dissect the process of creating suspense through details.
  • This is the seventh Christopher Nolan's blockbuster made with a PG-13 rating.
  • Of the 40,000+ British soldiers captured, who fought the rear guard, 10,000+ were Scottish. However, there is only one notable inclusion in this adaptation of the 51st Highlanders.
  • After first-hand accounts of the Dunkirk evacuation revealed to Christopher Nolan how young and inexperienced the soldiers were, he decided to cast young and unknown actors for the beach setting.
  • Around 1000 extras were used.
  • This is the first biographic movie directed by Christopher Nolan.
  • When asked why he cast Harry Styles in the film, Christopher Nolan said, "I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it."
  • Director Christopher Nolan focused on the "realism" of every aspect. For many of the cockpit shots he had a two-seat plane rigged so that the front canopy and cockpit looked like a real Spitfire but with non functioning flying controls and with the actual pilot flying the plane from the rear cockpit so that the actor could play the pilot as the plane actually flew. He also mounted front- and rear-facing cameras on a reconditioned Spitfire. In addition, he had cameramen floating in the water with actors.
  • The film could have been made earlier, as for idea of it was haunting Christopher Nolan's mind since his early student days, but he was too afraid his lack of experience in big-scale filmmaking is going to tamper his project of passion, so he delayed it until he trailed his skill with his previous large-scale blockbuster projects, including The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014).
  • The title "Dunkirk" is divided into three segmented colors: sky blue, dark blue, and white, referring to the triptych plot of air, sea, and land.
  • Will Attenborough's grandfather, Richard Attenborough, starred in a previous version of this historical event, Dunkirk (1958).
  • This will be Tom Hardy's third time starring in a World War II adaptation. He plays an American Paratrooper of the 101st Airborne in Band of Brothers (2001) and a British POW in Colditz (2005).
  • This is Christopher Nolan's first collaboration with Kenneth Branagh.
  • A modified two-seater Yak-52 was used to portray a Spitfire so that the actor and actual pilot could switch between seats depending on the shot that needed to be made.
  • At 107 minutes this is the shortest film by Christopher Nolan since Following (1998).
  • This is Nolan's shortest run time (107 minutes) movie since his first movie The following (69 minutes).
  • At 106 minutes, this is Christopher Nolan's shortest film since Following (1998).
  • The city of Dunkirk wanted parts of the movie to be filmed in the original setting. The city government created a cinema department to promote and organize filming in the city. They got 207 days of filming in the first 18 months from different projects.
  • The evacuation was widely regarded as a major British defeat at the time. Like the Battle of Jutland during World War I, it was later reassessed as a victory.
  • Dunkirk (2017) had the widest film release in the 70mm widescreen format in 25 years since Ron Howard's Far and Away (1992). The 70mm prints were screened at 125 70mm theaters, surpassing the previous record of 100 theaters by Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015).
  • Hans Zimmer used Nolan's pocket watch to create the clock ticking soundtracks in the film.
  • With a running time of 1 Hour and 46 mins, Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan's second shortest directed film as of 2017 after Following (1998).
  • Dunkirk (2017) is the first Christopher Nolan film without Michael Caine since Insomnia (2002). Caine is usually a first choice actor for Nolan since he's been in several of Nolan's films such as Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014).
  • Until the Fall of Singapore in 1942 the withdrawal from Dunkirk was widely viewed as the worst defeat in British military history.
  • At 106 minutes long, it is Nolan's second shortest film.
  • Director Christopher Nolan first got the idea of this film in 1992 while sailing to Dunkirk with his girlfriend (later his wife) Emma Thomas.
  • Christopher Nolan, along with his wife Emma Thomas and a friend, made the crossing from England to Dunkirk on a boat, the way the civilians would have done during the original evacuation. Nolan said it took 19 hours because of sea conditions.
  • The movie used over 50 boats on the sea.
  • This film was shipped to cinemas under the shooting title of "Bodega Bay."
  • The ticking sounds that serve as a crucial theme on the film's score were recorded by composer Hans Zimmer from one of director Christopher Nolan's own pocket watches. He then put the sounds into synthesizers and altered them in different ways for the soundtrack.
  • The warships used in the film include: * French T-47-class destroyer Maill?-Br?z? (D627) portraying British V-class destroyers HMS Vivacious (D36) and HMS Vanquisher (D54). * Dutch Dokkum-class minesweepers HNLMS Naaldwijk (M/PW809) and HNLMS Sittard (M830), with the Naaldwijk portraying British minesweeper HMS Britomart (J22) and the Sittard as, simultaneously, British H-class destroyer HMS Havant (H32) and British J-class destroyer HMS Jaguar (F34). * British Harbor Defence Motor Launch HMS Medusa (ML1387). * US Navy Rhine River Patrol boat USN P22. * Dutch Multipurpose ship MLV Castor (A810) as British destroyer HMS Basilisk (H11). * British Motor Torpedo Boat MTB102 (which was present at the actual Dunkirk evacuation and became the smallest vessel to become a flagship in the Royal Navy when Adm. Frederic Wake-Walker transferred to her after his previous flagship, destroyer HMS Keith (D06), was disabled).
  • In an interview, director Christopher Nolan compared the casting of musician Harry Styles to the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) because people also underestimated him.
  • This is Nolan's shortest movie since his low budget film Following (1998).
  • Director Christopher Nolan rode in the Spitfire shown in the movie in order to get a sense of the aerial feel of the fighter plane, and to help him shoot and provide a realistic experience of the dogfights.
  • The movie is said to have had the largest marine unit in film history while filming in sea during production.
  • A large number of cardboard cut-outs of soldiers were placed along with 1000 extras in order to create the illusion of a huge number of men during the evacuation.
  • More than seventy percent of Dunkirk (2017) was shot in IMAX.
  • Christopher Nolan confirmed in an interview with NJ.com that Michael Caine, his longtime collaborator has an uncredited voice cameo in Dunkirk (2017). His voice is heard talking on a radio to a man in the RAF (Royal Air Force). With this it will mark the seventh collaboration between Nolan and Caine following Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014).
  • Dunkirk (2017) is the seventh film between Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine after Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014). Caine appears in an uncredited voice cameo (he's the voice on the radio talking to a Royal Air Force officer early in the film) . Caine previously portrayed a Royal Air Force officer in the movie Battle of Britain.
  • When Dunkirk (2017) came out in The Netherlands, everyone in the fisher town of Urk (Flevoland) wanted to see the movie, as a part of the film was filmed at the IJsselmeer. However, Urk does not have its own cinema, so to make sure a couple of people in the town could see the movie in their neighborhood, a cinema-truck (some sort of moving cinema with few seats) was set up.
  • Only two women have speaking roles.
  • Feature film debuts of Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles.
  • Charles Lightoller, the most senior surviving officer of the RMS Titanic, participated in the Dunkirk evacuation with his private motor yacht, "The Sundowner". The craft has been preserved by the Ramsgate Maritime Museum in England.
  • (Cameo) John Nolan: A blind man, toward the end of the film. He's the uncle of director Christopher Nolan, and has appeared in several of his films.
  • The British government had already decided to continue the war when the British Expeditionary Force was felt lost. On 26 May 1940 the War Cabinet had discussed the still-neutral Benito Mussolini's offer to broker a negotiated end to the war; two days later Winston Churchill convinced all the members of the cabinet to continue fighting, no matter what the cost. However, the overall importance of returning at least 200,000 British fighting men cannot be downplayed, as this was at least 75% of the entire British Expeditionary Force in northern France.
  • The "ME-109" is actually a Buchon Hispano HA-1112-M1L built after the war for the Spanish Air Force. It has a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the same as a Spitfire.
  • Most of the film focuses on survival rather than heroism, but in the last minute or so, composer Hans Zimmer quotes the main melody from "Nimrod," the 15th variation from Sir Edward Elgar's popular "Enigma Variations". "Nimrod" is an orchestral/band piece frequently associated with British patriotism. The same piece of music was featured alongside Kenneth Branagh in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony as he delivered lines from William Shakespeare's "The Tempest".
  • "Xylonite" was the name for one of the rescue sailboats seen in the trailer. It is open to visitors and stationed at Maldon Essex.
  • Director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. reportedly bought a vintage WWII Luftwaffe bomber for use in this movie, at a cost of $5 million.
  • Winston Churchill had only been British Prime Minister for 16 days when the evacuation began. On 26 May 1940, after Lord Halifax suggested using the still-neutral Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to broker a negotiated end to the war Churchill replied, "I would be grateful to get out of our present difficulties on such terms, provided we retained the essentials and the elements of our vital strength, even at the cost of some territory". He said that "if we could get out of this jam by giving up Malta and Gibraltar and some African colonies he would jump at it. But the only safe way was to convince Hitler that he couldn't beat us".
  • According to actor-director Kenneth Branagh, roughly 30 Dunkirk survivors, who were in their mid-90s, attended the premiere in London. When asked about the film, they felt that it accurately captured the event but that the soundtrack was louder than the actual bombardment, a comment that greatly amused director Christopher Nolan.
  • Extensive handheld IMAX camera work was accomplished by DP Hoyte Van Hoytema, who often had to man a rig weighing as much as 60 lb. fully loaded. Because of its top-heaviness, key grip Ryan Monro would stabilize the unit by physically holding it during complex takes.
  • In the film many soldiers cursed the Royal Air Force for not protecting them from the Luftwaffe bombers. What is not mentioned at all is that the RAF was already out, attacking the bombers sent to bomb the soldiers on the beaches, and the bombers that did attack were only the ones that got past the fighters. These dogfights occurred more inland from Dunkirk, which is why the soldiers on the beaches didn't see many fighters during the evacuation, and why they thought the RAF had abandoned them.
  • Third blockbuster movie where Tom Hardy wears a mask or covers his face for a major period, after Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • Mr. Dawson's boat is flying a blue ensign flag (because he was a member of a yacht club and/or was retired Royal Navy); most of the other boats are flying the red ensign, which designates a merchant ship.
  • This is the second time that Tom Hardy has portrayed a character largely concealed behind a mask in a Christopher Nolan film. The first time was when he played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Critics complained the film ignored the French army, which held back German divisions near the city of Lille during the evacuation.
  • Even though he receives top billing Tom Hardy's face is only seen for a few moments. He spends most of the film behind his oxygen mask and goggles flying and fighting in his Spitfire.
  • Wilhelm Scream: Early in film when sinking evacuation ship drifts back against the pier.
  • The entire film was made to encompass the snowball effect that had only been used in the third acts of Christopher Nolan's previous films. According to him, by applying the snowball effect he stripped the film of conventional theatrics to make it more than the sum of its parts.
  • According to director Christopher Nolan, the tension that he feels watching Saving Private Ryan (1998) was not the tension he wanted for this movie.
  • For the sound design of the film, Christopher Nolan used a Shepard tone, in which ascending notes are subtly cycled to give the impression of a never-ending rise in pitch. Also he wanted to write the script by obeying this principle so that the audience could braid together three story lines and they continually rise in anxiety and tensity. So as one story line is peaking, the other one is still to be built and the third is entering the last phase.
  • Michael Caine has an unseen and uncredited role as a British Spitfire pilot in the film. He previously portrayed a Spitfire pilot in "Battle of Britain" (1969).
  • The third World War II film based on true events starring Cillian Murphy. The previous ones were The Edge of Love (2008) where he plays Capt. William Killick who sees action in Greece, and Anthropoid (2016) where he plays Josef Gabc?k, the man tasked to assassinate SS Gen. Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
  • In the UK the film opened at the top end of any reasonable expectations with a very robust ?10.02m from a whopping 638 cinemas. That is higher than for the opening frames of summer blockbusters such as War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Despicable Me 3 (2017) and Wonder Woman (2017). Dunkirk has achieved the fourth biggest UK opening of 2017, behind Beauty and the Beast (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and Despicable Me 3 (2017). (The Fate of the Furious (2017) was also seemingly bigger, but its debut number was boosted by significant previews.)
  • The Guardian UK and Warner Bros. UK reports that Dunkirk (2017) scored ?1.33m of its gross in UK's IMAX venues, and also did well in venues offering projection in 35mm and 70mm--Picturehouse, for example, achieved greater seat occupancy for its celluloid presentations. Internationally, on 232 IMAX screens, the film grossed almost ?7M with a strong per-screen average of almost ?30K, and ranks as the third-highest-grossing IMAX opening weekend ever in July, both internationally and globally--the film opened in 46 international markets and was on IMAX in 42 of those markets, with a handful of 70mm engagements on its overall 10,775 screens.
  • The film was criticized for not showing Indian soldiers. Four companies of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, unarmed mule handlers, were present at Dunkirk during the evacuation. Those these numbered less than a thousand out of nearly half a million men. Three were evacuated and one taken prisoner by the Germans. In September 1939 Mohandas K. Gandhi had urged all Indian people not to support the British war effort.
  • The parallels between the experiences of Mark Rylance's small boat and that of "Sundowner" (taken to Dunkirk by Cmdr. C.H. Lightoller, DSC, RNR (Retd.)) can be read on pages 201-3 of "Dunkirk" by A.D. Divine (published in 1945). Lightoller (previously second officer and most senior surviving crew member of RMS Titanic) took as crew his son and a sea scout; he picked up survivors from a returning motor cruiser and took them back to Dunkirk, "giving them the additional pleasure of again facing the hell they had only just left"; his youngest son Brian (lost flying his Blenheim in the first air raid on Wilhelmshaven) had previously given him advice on evasive tactics and he used them to evade a German fighter that made three unsuccessful attempts to sink the boat then gave up and flew away. The stoker P.O. assisting disembarkation of 130 men did ask where he had put them. One surprise is that several equally dramatic incidents in this account were not used in the film, so perhaps they were working from a different version of Lightoller's story.
  • Tom Hardy is the only Spitfire pilot wearing a pair of goggles with a flip-down tinted lense. These are the same type of goggles worn by Bruce Spence who played The Gyro Captain in The Road Warrior (1981) from the Mad Max films. Hardy played Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
  • Until the Fall of Singapore in 1942 the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk was widely regarded as the worst defeat in British history.
  • Kenneth Branagh plays Cmdr. Bolton, Royal Navy, the Pier Master at Dunkirk. Director Christopher Nolan explained that Bolton's character was a composite of several officers who performed heroically during the evacuation, but mostly Cmdr. James Campbell Clouston. Clouston was born in Montreal on 31 August 1900, and joined the Royal Navy in the midst of the First World War. The Royal Canadian Navy was a fledgling service at the time, and it was not unusual for young Canadians who wanted to serve at sea to join the Royal Navy. Clouston did well as he advanced through the service, qualifying as a gunnery specialist, considered the cream of the navy. In 1937 he became captain of the destroyer "HMS Isis", which was undergoing refit when Dunkirk broke in late May 1940. He immediately volunteered to help, and was appointed pier master in the beleaguered port. From all accounts he gave extraordinary service, working around the clock under the most demanding circumstances to evacuate as many soldiers as possible. He stayed until no more could be evacuated but was killed in the English Channel on his way back to England when the vessel he was on was attacked by German aircraft. In July 1940 he was awarded a Mention in Despatches, the highest posthumous award for valor after the Victoria Cross.
  • This is the first Christopher Nolan film to be based on actual events.
  • The hospital ship seen prominently at the beginning of the film is played by M/S "Rogaland," a 1929-built Norwegian passenger ship that saw service in World War II and was sunk in 1944. She was later raised and rebuilt, and still functions regularly as a cruise ship based in Stavanger, Norway.
  • The first Nolan movie to have a primarily British cast since his debut feature, Following (1998).
  • The end credits state that 12 of the original little ships that participated in the Dunkirk evacuation appear in the film, re-enacting their presence in 1940.
  • Of the many destroyers present in Operation Dynamo, the last remaining one is the Polish ORP "Blyskawica", a Grom-class destroyer. During Dynamo the ship was under Royal Navy control, although her crew was Polish. Blyskawica served with distinction well into the post-war era and was decommissioned in 1976, after almost 40 years in service. She also holds the distinction of being the oldest preserved destroyer in the world and is now berthed in Gdynia, Poland.
  • Early in the film a trio of Spitfires overflies the yacht that is the center of one of the three stories. The owner, Mr. Dawson, says something to the effect of, "The Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The best sound you can hear out there." The Spitfires were powered by the Merlin. The German Bf 109s of that era would have had Daimler-Benz engines. However, the Messerschmitts used in the film were not 1940-era aircraft but were Hispanos, Bf 109s built in Spain for the Spanish Air Force under contact in the late '40s and early '50s. Rather than the sleek nose profile of the original Bf 109s, these planes have "chin", to accommodate their new engines, which were Rolls-Royce Merlins. The inside joke? Therefore, regardless of which fighters flew by, the actual actors--not the characters they played--would have heard the sound of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
  • In several shots dock cranes are clearly visible as well as houses that don't look very old. This is actually historically accurate. There were dock cranes in Dunkirk at the time, and the houses on the beachfront did look more like "modernized" three- or four-story apartment blocks.
  • If you look up the location on Google Maps (Street View), on Dunkirk beach you can see them building the initial alleyway that Tommy runs through to get to the beach. Barriers with "film" signs attached can be seen. Zooming in, you can see that much of the background detail is identical to the film. Only road signs have been removed; the 1920s-style light with glass ball shade was there originally. 15 Digue de Mer 59240 Dunkerque France
  • The soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk only comprised one-tenth of the British armed forces in 1940.
  • The fuel used by the Germans during the Battle of France was provided by the Soviet Union, due to the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement.
  • Some of the aircraft seen in the film are actually large (two-meter-long) radio-controlled scale models. The production manufactured and used 40 accurate scale models of Junkers Ju-87 "StuKa" and Messerschmitt 109s, mainly for low-flying and strafing scenes.
  • The film features the most footage shot on 65mm IMAX film stock to date, with 79 minutes of the final cut being footage that was shot on the IMAX film stock. This beats out a previous Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), which had 72 minutes of its final cut being footage that was shot on IMAX film stock.
  • Most of DUNKIRK concentrates on survival rather than heroism, but in the last minute or so of the film, composer Hans Zimmer quotes the main melody from "Nimrod," the fifteenth variation from Sir Edward Elgar's popular "Enigma Variations." "Nimrod" is an orchestral/band piece frequently associated with British patriotism. The same work also is quoted briefly earlier in the film, when the "little ships" arrive at Dunkirk.
  • With a run-time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, the film is more than an hour shorter than Christopher Nolan's previous film, Interstellar (2014) (2 hours and 49 minutes).
  • Christopher Nolan's fifth straight film to enter AFI's Top 10 Films list, as well as his eighth film to be named one of IMDb's Top 250 Films.
  • This is the first Christopher Nolan film since Insomnia (2002) and third film overall, in addition to his debut Following (1998), that doesn't have any American characters who are played by non-American actors.
  • The ticking that Hans Zimmer used at the very beginning of the movie was actually a recording of a watch that Christopher Nolan owns.
  • The time period is believable right through the movie until near the end when the returned troops are riding the train. The train used is a very recent local train type in use in the UK and does look quite modern. Trains in the UK in the 1940's would have had mostly dark wood trimmings and with compartments rather than open carriages.
  • Their Finest (2016) is another movie that was released in 2017 that surrounded the events of Dunkirk.
  • In the flyover scenes, some of the buildings in town are much too modern.
  • The film was shot on the actual beach at Dunkirk where the evacuation took place. When scouting for the film, director Christopher Nolan found a button from an English soldier's uniform in the sand.
  • The production used 20 ships that were actually used in the real-life evacuation.
  • American billionaire Dan Friedkin, an avid vintage military aviation collector, allowed the production to use two Mk1 Spitfires from his collection for the film. The planes are valued at $5 million each, and his collection is so large that the only person who owns more Spitfires than him is the Queen.
  • The only female to have a line of dialogue in the film is the Nurse on the Hospital Ship.
  • Harry Styles was one of thousands of boys to audition for the role of Alex. Director Christopher Nolan said that he chose Styles because he "just had it".
  • Feature debut of Harry Styles.
  • Holds the distinction of being the highest grossing World War II movie of all time, but not with inflation.
  • Actual Battle of Dunkirk veterans Robert Halliday (spent 6 days on the beach, saved many lives), Arthur Taylor (survived Dunkirk and ended up storming Normandy beach on D-Day), and Vic Viner (spent 6 days on a naval vessel, evacuating soldiers) were consulted during the writing and production of the film.
  • One of the most difficult shoots for cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema due to the constant use of IMAX cameras ranging from 46 pounds to 250 pounds.
  • The scene in which Tom Hardy's character's Spitfire lands on Dunkirk beach was real; done on location with an actual Spitfire in flight, and was the first time a plane landed on that beach since 1940. After the scene was completed, however, the Spitfire became stuck in the sand. There was subsequently a frantic rush to get the valuable Spitfire out off the beach before the incoming tides could damage it.
  • Tom Glynn-Carney commented about how thrilling the filming was, saying "it will make every job I do after this boring".
  • Production was given 12 weeks to rebuild "The Mole" (the white walkway out into the ocean that all the soldiers stand on, exposed), they built it on top of the actual monument on the Dunkirk battlefield and built from the original blueprints for the original "Mole". It was also built up to code with the local Port Authority.
  • To mimic the effect of a military uniform being visibly worn and used, costume designers put water on the wool outfits, immediately dried it with a blow torch, and then scrubbed with a brush. This was done over and over to achieve the desired effect.
  • Some of the actual boats from the Battle of Dunkirk used in the film are the Hilfranor, the Elvyn, the Endeavor, the Mary Jane, the Caronia, the New Britannic, and the Princess Elizabeth.
  • During his acceptance speech for "Best Achievement in Sound Mixing" at the BAFTA Awards for his collective work on this film, Gregg Landaker mentioned that Dunkirk was his 207th and last film, as he was officially retiring in 2018 (Royal Albert Hall London / 18 Feb. 2018).
  • The only film among the Best Picture nominees of 2017 not to be nominated in any acting category.
  • Toward the end of the film, the film's composer, Hans Zimmer, wrote a drawn out, extended version of Edward Elgar's "Nimrod" of the "Enigma Variations." Elgar is an English composer who had composed the well know "Pomp and Circumstance" theme song that is used during graduation ceremonies. The Nimrod is meant to musically express a tremendous victory over an unspeakable tragedy, which is fitting for the movie, since Dunkirk was a disaster, and yet it's strategic retreat would turn the tide of World War II. Elgar's piece was also chosen by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra shortly after the September 11 attacks.
  • With eight Oscar nominations, the film is tied with The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010) in being the most Oscar-nominated film in Nolan's filmography.
  • The fuel used by the Germans was provided by the Soviet Union, due to the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement of February 1940.
  • The RAF had been bombing German cities for 16 days when the evacuation began. The first raid was against Dortmund on 10 May 1940, while M?nchengladbach was bombed on the following night.
  • The highest-grossing Best Picture nominee of 2017, grossing $525 million worldwide, ahead of Get Out (2017) which grossed $255 million.
  • The British military was just under 3 million in 1940, and only 330,000 were rescued from Dunkirk. Of that 330,000 about 20% were French troops. Britain needed to train and arm new recruits at the time of Dunkirk but she was not without any troops. Even if Germany had captured the troops at Dunkirk they were not ready to invade England. The British Navy still controlled the Channel.
  • Third film in Christopher Nolan repertoire not to be in IMDb Top 250 films. The Following(1998) his directorial debut. Insomnia(2002)The only film he didn't pen the screenplay and Dunkirk (2017) his first film on War.
  • In the beginning, it is explained that the German tanks have stopped because "why waste precious tanks when they can pick us off from the air." In reality, the tanks were in desperate need of maintenance and fuel, as well as to wait for the slower-moving German infantry and other reinforcements that were miles, sometimes dozens of miles, behind them.
  • Tom Hardy's third collaboration with Christopher Nolan after Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • All of the Supermarine Spitfires seen onscreen have their left wings painted almost-completely black as part of a friend-or-foe recognition scheme employed early in the war, but which had mostly been dropped by the time of the Battle of Britain.

Spoilers

  • Tom Hardy has less than 10 lines in his screentime.
  • While not officially credited, Michael Caine does "appear" in the film as the voice on the pilots radios. He is thanked in the end credits. This marks Nolan and Caine's 7th collaboration.
  • Among the British infantry, only Tommy and a few soldiers firing at German planes are shown using their rifles. In both cases, they don't hit anything.
  • No German soldier is shown during the entire film.
  • Christopher Nolan's fifth movie to feature a character deliver a monologue while a montage of multiple events closes the film.
  • In the sequence where the Spitfire ditches into the English Channel, an IMAX camera was strapped into the cockpit to film Jack Lowden's character trying to get out. However, during filming, the plane with the camera still inside sank quicker than predicted. It took so long to retrieve the plane that the IMAX camera housing filled with water, potentially ruining both the very expensive camera and the film inside. Director Christopher Nolan used an old movie technique of keeping the film wet and shipped it back to Los Angeles, getting it processed before it dried out. The take from that scene is in the movie.
  • The Mark Rylance character, Dawson, is closely based on Charles Lightoller, Second Officer of the Titanic, who took his yacht "Sundowner" to Dunkirk at the age of 66. Like Lightoller, Dawson refuses to let the navy crew his boat--"If anyone takes her it will be me"--and takes one of his sons with him. Like Lightoller, Dawson had lost a son in the RAF (Brian, shot down in a Wellington bomber on the second day of the war) who taught him how to evade air attack. Also like Lightoller, he packs the boat so full (four stood in the bathtub) that the disembarkation officer couldn't believe over 55 men were aboard it.
  • The planes that were bombing the beach were Junkers Ju-87 Sturzkampfflugzeug "Stuka" dive bombers, and the distinctive sound they made did not come from its engine nor its propeller, but from sirens mounted upon the leading edges of its faired main gear legs, the so-called Jericho Trompete ("Jericho trumpet") which terrorized ground troops and became a propaganda tool to trumpet German air power during WWII. Though the Stukas were the only aircraft equipped with such a siren system, it has became a characteristic sound of planes diving down/attacking.
  • Despite the fact that the Germans are shooting at and bombing the allied forces throughout the film, no German troops are actually visible until one of the last shots in the movie, and even then they're out of focus and in shadow.
  • In researching the Dunkirk story, "History vs. Hollywood" discovered that while the character Farrier is not directly based on an actual person, his experience most closely resembles that of Alan Christopher "Al" Deere, a New Zealand Spitfire pilot. Farrier's fictional experience is indeed similar. After shooting down several German planes, he was forced to crash-land east of Dunkirk, likely on a Belgian beach. Unlike Deere, Farrier is captured in the closing shots. Deere famously got back to England after punching a naval officer in the face when he refused to let him on board. During his combat career Al was shot down nine times, surviving all incidents, and chronicled his experiences in his autobiography "Nine Lives".
  • The clock in the soundtrack doesn't stop ticking during the whole movie, until Alex and Tommy are sitting safely on the train.
  • Near the end of the film a Spitfire without fuel is seen shooting down a Stuka dive-bomber. This is historically correct--the Stukas were notoriously easy targets for fighter planes (especially when preparing to dive) and, in the following Battle of Britain, a significant number were shot down.
  • The only German soldiers seen in the film are the ones who capture Farrier at the end of the film. They are shown out of focus.
  • Most unusual for a World War II story, the film deals with civilians rescuing military personnel instead of vice versa.
  • According to director Christopher Nolan the original ending was supposed to be the shot of the burning Spitfire on the beach. Nolan changed his mind after watching dailies of Fionn Whitehead, who plays "Tommy." In an interview with his brother Jonathan Nolan said, "At the end, [Fionn] did this thing where he just, I don't even know what he's doing, but you want to end with this quiet moment with him, where no one's paying attention to him and Alex is eating and drinking stuff the girls are handing through the window. It brings you back to this personal moment; he's trying to process the words he's just read from this very eloquent politician and trying to reconcile that with his experience. Hopefully the audience is trying to do the same thing, through his eyes. So it comes back to a very small thing."
  • There is no German soldier until end of the movie, when capturing British pilot.Even then, they are barely visible
  • The production only had a 45-minute window to achieve the shot of Farrier's plane landing on the Dunkirk shore, as the incoming tide would have made the sand too unstable to land a plane.
  • When Farrier lands his Spitfire on the Dunkirk shore, the plane is actually being piloted by American billionaire Dan Friedkin, who loaned planes from his personal collection to the film.
  • Despite being solely focused on the event, the full scope of the mass evacuation that actually occurred at Dunkirk is never shown. During the real Operation Dynamo, thousands of civilian ships sailed to Dunkirk to save the stranded soldiers. Nowhere near thousands of ships are shown saving the soldiers in the film.
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