Christopher Nolan thrilled to become the first director to tackle Dunkirk drama

The filmmaker and his wife followed in the wake of the British heroes of 1940 on a treacherous boat trip 20 years ago.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan can't believe he's the first director to make an authentic movie about the Battle of Dunkirk.

The Dark Knight trilogy director grew up fascinated by the heroics of sea-faring Brits who sailed across the English Channel to rescue stranded troops on the beaches of France during World War Two, and one treacherous boat journey he made with his producer wife Emma Thomas 20 years ago made him realise he was the man to take the story to the big screen.

"Like most British people, Dunkirk is a story I've grown up with," he tells WENN. "I don't even remember the first time I was told about the events at Dunkirk. As kids we received this very simplified, almost mythic fairytale version of what happened there.

"And then Emma and I had an experience over 20 years ago, where we made the crossing with a friend of ours who owned a small boat. We made the crossing about the same time of year the evacuation had taken place and went to Dunkirk. The crossing was extremely difficult. The channel was very rough and it felt difficult and dangerous - and that was without people dropping bombs on us.

"I came away from that experience with my respect and fascination for the people who had taken part in the real evacuation absolutely cemented. I've never quite understood why a modern film hasn't been made about it and, as a filmmaker, those are the kind of gaps that you're looking to fill."

Nolan is glad he got the chance to make Dunkirk, because directing the film was a truly gripping experience.

"For me, it's always been about (a) story that hooks me and I have an emotional connection with and will sustain me through the years of making the film," he adds. "I'm very simple-minded. I can only do one thing at a time. I'm not very good at planning what I'm gonna do next so I dive in and I concentrate on one film for two or three years. It has to be a story that will keep me enthusiastic about it for that period of time. This did just that."

Dunkirk, which stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Cillian Murphy, opens in cinemas on 21 July (17).

© Cover Media