Christopher Nolan Wanted to Shoot 'Dunkirk' Without a Script

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Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" almost feels like a silent movie. Its closest sibling would be Sergei Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin," both convey a historical event through images and multiple narratives happening simultaneously on-screen.  "Dunkirk" is Nolan's symphonic opus, a staggering, visceral cinematic treatise on image and sound. There are barely any words in it. Its lack of dialogue has made it almost minimalistic in style, a rare feat in the blockbuster world.  What's even crazier is that Nolan originally considered shooting the WWII film sans script. THR reports notes that while doing research for the film, the venerable writer-director became so immersed in the details that he felt comfortable in thinking a script-free approach could 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 then went to Emma Thomas, his wife and producing partner with the idea of shooting without a script “I said, 'I don’t want a script. Because I just want to show it,' it’s almost like I want to just stage it. And film it," his wife's response was clear and concise, she didn't think it was a good idea "Emma looked at me like I was a bit crazy and was like, okay, that’s not really gonna work,”

The final screenplay he did end up writing was his shortest ever, just 76 pages, rumor has it that it came to about 10 or so pages of dialogue. Yikes.
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