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The Aspects of Interconnection in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk: Focusing on Plot, Shots and Montage

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2021, 34(2), pp.67-94
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : July 22, 2021
  • Accepted : August 9, 2021
  • Published : August 31, 2021

Seung Tae Im 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In Dunkirk (2017), Nolan visualizes Operation Dynamo, one of the largest military evacuations performed in the early days of World War II. In filming this epic event, Nolan recognizes that “any kind of comprehensive view” is not achievable for “an event of this magnitude.” Nolan chooses to apply the perspective of history from below in a cinematic way by weaving fragmentary episodes of unknown characters rather than prominent figures in historical narratives. This paper analyzes how Nolan connects cinematic elements to deal with the escape of hundreds of thousands of Allied forces from Dunkirk based on Yuri Lotman’s film semiotics. Dunkirk’s plot structure features the opposition between selfishness and altruism within the Allied forces. Nolan’s live approach to filming, achieved by shots from a large-format camera in as realistic an environment as possible, aims at providing an immersive experience both to the actors and the audience. Finally, the montage related to Nolan’s sense of balance in the equal arrangement of the film’s three parts. Granting durative equivalence to the three significantly different events is not just a mechanical balance consideration but an active intervention to fairly show the contribution of all the operation’s participants. In Dunkirk, Nolan asks who the real agent of Churchill’s famous phrase “blood, toil, tears and sweat” was, and his answer is, in every field: the mole, the sea, and the air.

Citation status

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