Christopher Nolan Levels On Dunkirk’s PG-13 Rating: “It’s Not A War Film”


Dunkirk is not so much a war film as it is a suspense thriller, according to writer-director Christopher Nolan, who touched base on the film’s PG-13 rating while chatting to the Associated Press (via The Playlist).

News of Dunkirk‘s official MPAA rating first surfaced online three weeks ago, leading many to question whether Nolan’s WWII pic will be able to accurately portray the death-defying tale of Operation Dynamo while confined to a PG-13 rating. The filmmaker tackled those doubts head on, pointing to his other forays in the blockbuster space (see: Interstellar, Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy) as examples of Hollywood tentpoles that were able to deliver an intense experience without the need for excessive blood and violence.

Recounting the epic Allied rescue mission from three different perspectives – land, sea and airDunkirk is filmmaking on a massive scale, and though it’s decidedly more realistic than Nolan’s recent efforts, the director has no doubt that PG-13 is the best fit for the story at hand.

All of my big blockbuster films have been PG-13. It’s a rating I feel comfortable working with totally. ‘Dunkirk’ is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film. So while there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way. I would really like lots of different types of people to get something out of the experience.

Shot almost exclusively on IMAX cameras, one of the more eye-catching rumors to emerge from the production of Dunkirk concerned a vintage WWII plane worth upwards of $5 million. Those reports claimed Nolan actually crashed the vessel whilst filming, but it turns out that’s not the case.

We used real antique vintage planes and flew them for the movie but we also constructed full-scale models to destroy. A lot of money was involved but not that much money. I would never! Obviously never … These planes are so beautiful and so valuable for so many reasons and the respect I have for them having done this, especially now having worked with them. The Spitfire is the most glorious machine.

Dunkirk storms off the beaches and into theaters regular and IMAX on July 21st, and Nolan believes the latter format will offer an experience the likes of which we’ve never seen before.