Christopher Nolan wanted to prove that he could take his unique style of filmmaking a step further in the early stages of Dunkirk by pondering the idea of shooting his World War II drama with no script at all, whatsoever.
In a conversation with the director and his brother Jonathan, which was included with the published version of the Dunkirk screenplay, the filmmaker revealed his longing for shooting a script-free production because he had already “mastered” the form of exposition with films such as Interstellar and Inception.
Here’s what Nolan said (via THR):
“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. 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.”
However, after Nolan pitched the idea to his wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, he discovered that she wasn’t too keen on the idea, and ultimately went with shooting the 76-page screenplay that he apparently wrote “very, very quickly.”
“Emma looked at me like I was a bit crazy and was like, okay, that’s not really gonna work,” Nolan recounts. He conceded.
Dunkirk, which opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops become surrounded by enemy forces during the summer of 1942, ultimately became a hit with both critics and audiences, even performing much better at the box office than analysts had originally predicted it would.
The film stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan, and Tom Glynn-Carney.