What to Expect from Christopher Nolan's Epic War Film Dunkirk

A preview of the upcoming World War II movie, Dunkirk.

It looks as though Christopher Nolan plans to permeate the war movie genre with his upcoming film, Dunkirk. If you’re a fan of gritty war films set during World War II, then Dunkirk is a movie you should have on your radar. Here’s a quick preview of what we can expect from this epic war movie.

The Dunkirk Evacuation

Before getting into the movie details, it will help to know the historical context that the film is based on. The Dunkirk evacuation, also referred to as "Operation Dynamo" or the "Miracle of Dunkirk", was a rescue mission to retrieve Allied troops who were trapped on the Nazi-controlled beaches of Dunkirk, France during the Battle of Dunkirk in World War II.

Operation Dynamo was carried out across several days, starting at the end of May in 1940. Allied forces from multiple nations rallied together to rescue their stranded bretheren, sending as many naval vessels and smaller craft as they could to the shores of Dunkirk. German forces retaliated by sending in fighter planes to open fire on the incoming vessels and along the beach, diminishing the effectiveness of the rescue mission.

The turning point came when Germany issued a halt order, calling back their panzer divisions long enough for more Allied troops to be recovered from Dunkirk. By the end of the operation in June 1940, over 300,000 troops had been evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in what Winston Churchill referred to as a "miracle".

Dunkirk (2017): Trailer and Preview

The film’s first trailer debuted back in December 2016, giving us a glimpse at what the Dunkirk movie has in store. The trailer showed a series of events depicting what it took to rescue Allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II. Based on the trailer, we’re in for some heart-stopping action when the movie arrives this summer.

Along with the initial trailer, a special seven-minute Dunkirk preview was also released for select IMAX theaters. There’s currently nowhere to watch this preview online, so you’ll have to read some recaps from reviewers to learn about what it showed. I happened to see this extended preview in all of its glory when I went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and it only served to enhance my excitement for Nolan’s upcoming film.

Rather than a trailer, the extended preview essentially offered a seven-minute scene straight from Dunkirk, similar to the six-minute IMAX prologue shown for The Dark Knight Rises. The preview began with the incessant ticking sound featured in the first trailer, only this time the ticking gradually sped up, building a sense of stress and intensity as the scene played out. The clip alternated between three simultaneous stories following several soldiers leading up to the events of the rescue mission.

Since the details of each scenario have escaped me, CinemaBlend has a more detailed account of what was shown if you really wish to know. Despite the details, I do distinctly remember the intense feeling of anxiety and anticipation that those seven minutes of film managed to build toward the end, and that was enough to really bolster my interest in Dunkirk.

Dunkirk's star-studded cast includes Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles, shown here.

The film features a star-studded cast that includes Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and Harry Styles, along with Nolan-favorites Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, who have both starred in previous Nolan films including Inception and The Dark Knight.

Based on his previous works, we’re curious to see if Nolan will incorporate some sort of thrilling plot twist into Dunkirk like he had in films like Inception, Memento, and The Prestige. Then again, Dunkirk is based on a real event in history and not some creative fictional narrative, so a plot twist seems less likely. However, we do know that Nolan will go to great lengths to pull off the action scenes in his films, using practical effects like crashing a vintage World War II plane to achieve the level of quality he desires.

Either way, Dunkirk looks to be one of the better cinematic experiences this year, and we are looking forward to what Nolan has in store. Who knows, perhaps Dunkirk will be added to our list of the best war movies of all time

Remember Dunkirk

Wargaming has recently announced their partnership with Warnor Bros. to honor the momentus Dunkirk evacuation through a promotion called "Remember Dunkirk". To commemorate the 77th anniversary of this pivotal event in WWII, players can participate in various Dunkirk-inspired missions and earn emblems in each of Wargaming's three free-to-play games all throughout July. 

Dunkirk is set to hit both IMAX and regular movie theaters on July 21, 2017. Leave a comment to let us know if you’ll be seeing this epic war film this summer!


Larryn is a full-time editor who has written guides and editorial features for various gaming websites. She is obsessed with Witcher 3 and is known to put hot sauce on everything.

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