Christopher Nolan Shuns CGI; New Film ‘Dunkirk’ to Use Real WWII Naval Destroyers


Christopher Nolan is well-known not only for directing “The Dark Knight” films or “Memento,” “Inception,” and stunning “Interstellar,” but he is also famous for championing the cause for celluloid film and is known to prefer practical effects over computer-generated imagery (CGI). Now, it has been revealed that Nolan will also be shunning CGI once again for practical effects and locations in his forthcoming WWII feature, “Dunkirk.”

The Independent notes that French nautical magazine Presse Océan has published a report stating that director Christopher Nolan has decided to use the French T-47 Class Destroyer known as Maillé-Brézé for the production of the film. The vessel, which was decommissioned and is now a museum ship in Nantes, will be towed to Saint-Nazaire, Brittany where it will be transformed into a working vessel ready for production of “Dunkirk” in May.

The French Navy vessel was built by Arsenal de Lorient in Lorient, commissioned on May 4, 1957 and named after the French admiral Jean Armand de Maillé-Brézé (1619–1646). Though the ship served for over 30 years in the French navy, it didn’t see any action in Dunkirk, notes The Independent.

Nolan has remained a very successful director and a wonderful artist with an overwhelming fan base. His films are striking for their cerebral and intelligent content in addition to being grounded in human emotions. Part of the charm of his films comes from his insistence on using real physical effects, sets and location shoots, even when the contents are fantastical and otherworldly.

For instance, in “Inception,” Nolan used an actual prop; a revolving corridor for the film’s iconic zero-gravity sequence. In “Interstellar,” he used a combination of full-size and miniature models of the Rangers, Landers, and the Endurance spaceships for most of the time, rather than CGI.

The icy planet of Dr. Mann was shot in Iceland. Even though the visuals of the wormhole and blackhole were created using computer graphics, they were projected on a large screen while the actors were inside the cockpit of the Endurance. This gave the actors real-time reference; to immediately know and respond to what their characters were supposed to experience with their eyes. There was no green screen involved like in almost every single Hollywood big budget special effects tentpoles.

Regarding “Dunkirk,” it was also previously revealed by Variety that Nolan will shoot the film in a combination of Imax 65mm and 65mm large format film for maximum image quality.

“Dunkirk” will star Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy and will be released in 2017.

To Top