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Christopher Nolan is using 65mm film and IMAX to tell his first World War II story

In the world of Hollywood blockbusters there's arguably no bigger proponent of shooting on film than Christopher Nolan, and the director is turning to both 65mm and IMAX film for his next project. Variety reports that Nolan's secretive new film is Dunkirk, a World War II story based around Operation Dynamo, in which over 300,000 British, French, and Belgian troops were rescued from the French seaport of Dunkirk in 1940 after being surrounded by German troops. Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh are both reportedly in talks to join the project. (The French outlet La Voix Du Nord first broke the news about the project, with Variety confirming the report today.)

Variety also points out that Nolan will be taking his love for film a step further than he has in the past, shooting the movie on a combination of 65mm and IMAX film cameras. Nolan has been shooting portions of his films in IMAX going back to his Dark Knight trilogy, and while he's also dabbled in 65mm his movies have up until this point also fallen back to 35mm footage at times. Shooting entirely on a combination of large-format film would essentially take what filmmakers like P.T. Anderson and Quentin Tarantino have done on movies like The Master and The Hateful Eight, and up the ante by also adding IMAX film sequences to the mix. (Both Tarantino and Anderson recently credited Nolan for reviving interest in 65mm and the 70mm presentation format in the first place.)

Keeping the love of film alive

Interstellar was released on film in both 70mm, 35mm, and traditional IMAX, along with the assortment of modern digital options, and it stands to reason that Dunkirk will follow a similar model — but even since last year the theatrical landscape has shifted. Tarantino had to ensure 70mm projectors were installed in many locations for his Hateful Eight roadshow presentation, with early projection issues popping up due to unfamiliarity with the older equipment. But with filmmakers like Nolan continuing to press forward with film over digital — Star Wars: The Force Awakens shot on 35mm and IMAX, and Rian Johnson confirmed he'll be shooting Episode VIII on film as well — there will continue to be opportunities for audiences to compare the benefits of the medium, even if they have to go a little out of their way to see the premiere film presentations.


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