Dunkirk is a 2017 war movie 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. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Dunkirk.
1. The movie is a British-America-French-Dutch co-production, and it was distributed by Warner Brothers.
2. Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Christopher Nolan sought instead to create suspense from cinematography and music.
3. The movie has extensive practical effects, and employed thousands of extras as well as historic boats from the evacuation, and period airplanes.
4. Dunkirk is the highest grossing World War II movie of all time, taking $525 million worldwide.
5. The movie received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, and cinematography. Some critics called it Christopher Nolan’s best work, and one of the greatest war movies ever.
6. Dunkirk received eight nominations at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, winning for Best Editing, eight at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, winning for Best Sound, and three at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
7. At the 90th Academy Awards, Dunkirk received eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. It went on to win for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.
8. 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 movie, 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.
9. 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 that it took 19 hours because of sea conditions.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. The ticking sounds that serve as a crucial theme on the movie’s score was 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.
13. The end credits state that 12 of the original little ships that participated in the Dunkirk evacuation appear in the movie, re-enacting their presence in 1940.
14. The title “Dunkirk” is divided into three segmented colors: sky blue, dark blue, and white, referring tot he triptych plot of air, sea and land.
15. The movie used over 50 boats on the sea.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. When asked why he cast Harry Styles in the movie, Christopher Nolan said, “I auditioned literally thousands of young men with different combinations of young men. And he had it.”
19. 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 because people also underestimated him.
20. Christopher Nolan first got the idea for the movie in 1992 while sailing to Dunkirk with his girlfriend, later his wife, Emma Thomas.
21. Dunkirk is the first Christopher Nolan movie to be based on historical events. All of his other movies have either been original scripts, remakes, novel or short story adaptions or comic-book adaptions.
22. At 106 minutes, Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s shortest movie since Following.
23. Dunkirk marks the fifth collaboration between Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan.
24. A large number of cardboard cut-outs of soldiers were placed along with 1,000 extras in order to create the illusion of a huge number of men during the evacuation.
25. The screenplay was only 76 pages long. In fact, Christopher Nolan originally wanted to make an improvised movie.
26. Mr. Dawson’s boat is flying a blue ensign flag because he was a member of a yacht club or he was retired from the Royal Navy. Most of the other boats are flying the red ensign, which designates a merchant ship.
27. The movie was shot on the actual beach at Dunkirk where the evacuation took place. When scouting for the movie, Christopher Nolan found a button from an English soldier’s uniform in the sand.
28. 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.
29. Two historic fishing boats were used as a background decor, the UK 12 and the UK 114. However, UK doesn’t stand for United Kingdom. IT’s a Dutch harbor-code for Urk, where much of the filming was done.
30. American billionaire Dan Friedkin, an avid vintage military aviation collector, allowed the production to use two MK1 Spitfires from his collection for the movie. 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.