Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk took full advantage of the visual and aural sensations of filmmaking, but his noted inspiration when developing the stunning war drama came from a time when movies were still silent.
Now, YouTube channel Like Stories Of Old has taken Nolan at his word, distilling the sweeping Dunkirk epic into a short silent film in black and white, and the changes are more complex and impactful on the narrative than it would seem, leaning into much more of a classic propaganda film vibe.
The nearly-two-hour movie is cut down to just around seven minutes, with a chopped edit that trims the story down while staying true to Nolan’s intent to tell three interwoven stories across land, sea and air.
The cosmetic changes are surprisingly well done, adding a flickering film reel effect and speed-ramping of the frames that goes beyond just basic black and white filtering. The score is also changed; it’s more militaristic and looming, staying time appropriate to the emulated period of filmmaking but maintaining the distressing sensation of the original score from the movie.
It’s an interesting little experiment, and one that proves that, not only is Nolan a masterful storyteller, but, the emotional weight of stories like that of the trapped men on the beaches of Dunkirk after the outbreak of World War II are timeless in both format and impact.
Update: This post has been updated to correct Dunkirk’s run time.