Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk': Intense Footage Stuns at CinemaCon

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.,

“I wanted to tell the story in the most visceral way possible,” said Nolan of his World War II drama.

Christopher Nolan dropped Dunkirk footage to the delight of the theater owner-filled audience at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Nolan took the stage at CinemaCon to talk about Warner Bros.’ World War II film that centers on the British military evacuation of the French city of Dunkirk in 1940, one of the biggest battles during the war. The film is told through the eyes of three soldiers. 

“Dunkirk and the legend of it is something that British people grow up with – it’s in our DNA,” said Nolan. “The idea of taking this paradoxical situation and putting it on the big screen – it’s something that’s been close to my heart for some time, it’s something I didn’t think I was ready to do.”

Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles are among the featured cast. 

The footage shown focuses on multiple characters in the same moment in time. There are two young soldiers attempting to get an injured soldier across a bridge crowded with soldiers while, in the sky, Hardy’s character, a fighter pilot, is in battle. Rylance’s character is taking out a boat to the sea below, where a battleship packed with soldiers floats. Over it all is an intense ticking sound, creating tension that promises to lead to an explosive moment.

“I wanted to tell the story in the most visceral way possible, I wanted to take that audience and put them on that beach,” said Nolan.

Nolan is a favorite among theater owners, with the British director being among the most prominent proponents of IMAX theaters and the movie-going experience. “This is the first time we’re using IMAX cameras to their full effect. We’ve be using them more and more starting with The Dark Knight.”

Dunkirk returns Nolan to the middle of summer movie season after his most recent film, 2014’s Interstellar, opened in November. Dunkirk hits theaters July 21. 

Nolan assured theater owners that Dunkirk, shot entirely in large format film by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, would be available in IMAX film, IMAX digital, 70mm film, 35mm film and DCPs (Digital Cinema Packages).