Christopher Nolan‘s latest film Dunkirk is quite a ways away, with a summer release currently scheduled, but that hasn’t stopped him from showing off some of his earliest footage in the biggest and most pristine way possible — in 70mm on select IMAX screens across the country.
And I do mean select — I believe there are less than 20 theaters capable and willing to show the Dunkirk prologue in front of select 70mm prints of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which makes the experience that much more sweet.
I was lucky enough to catch this last night at the Great Clips IMAX Theatre at the Minnesota Zoo, which is the only theater presenting this, not to mention the largest screen in MN.
I’ll start off by saying the footage was definitely all over the place, piecing together parts of the film in an almost confusing manner that truly does capture the frenzy of war.
Nolan is the master of big-budget scope, creating quite a few large blockbuster films, including The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception.
His last film, Interstellar, might not have resonated with as many as his previous films, but that doesn’t mean it deserves to be completely forgotten.
Dunkirk presents a shift in Nolan’s filmography, as he attempts to ground himself in a bit more realism as he tells his WWII epic.
For starters, Dunkirk looks absolutely gorgeous, capturing the beauty of Nolan’s filmmaking abilities amongst the backdrops of war and the horror that it brings. Nolan’s shots are calculated and clean and the 70mm presentation took advantage of the widened screen viewing and larger presentation.
Airplane sequences especially stood out, calling back to The Dark Knight Rises prologue in terms of heightened excitement, but then adding in the claustrophobia of a cockpit and the nerves of back-and-forth warfare in the sky.
This was the bulk of the footage that contained Tom Hardy, while most of the rest of the footage took place on ground, at various locations.
It’s extremely hard to peg much of the story, characters or even overall quality of the film, but the visuals helped paint an exciting-looking picture that has me eager to see the rest of the film in 70mm.
Nolan has a knack for making films that require not just any viewing, but a specific one. This was made mostly true for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises and then carried out with Interstellar and now hopefully made even more so true with Dunkirk.
I haven’t seen any other non-70mm IMAX footage of Dunkirk projected on a traditional digital screen for comparison, but having seen this much footage in 70mm has me convinced that this is the only acceptable way to view this film and get the most out of it.
The scope of war is made that much larger in 70mm IMAX, not to mention the sky sequences and the thumping sound of an IMAX surround sound system.
I know this isn’t exactly a review of Dunkirk, but it is an early look at what could be one of the better movies of the summer. Nolan definitely has it in him to deliver an event-level war film that calls back to Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line.
But he also has it in him to completely deflate his visuals with a story that doesn’t live up to the source material or take advantage of the talent that he’s acquired.
I hope that’s not the case.