Christopher Nolan Clarifies ‘Dunkirk’s PG-13 Rating: ‘It’s Not a War Film’
War movies are usually pretty tough to watch. Classics like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan contain scenes of such shocking brutality that it’s almost impossible not to look away. Scenes like that are what normally gets a movie slapped with an R rating, but Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is going to be different. The movie is rated PG-13, which is a little odd given that the Allied victory at Dunkirk during World War II was coupled with a beach full of corpses and unimaginable loss of life.
Nolan himself recently clarified exactly why the movie has such an unusually low rating for a war film to the Associated Press (via The Playlist) and explains that it’s a movie about war, but not necessarily a war movie.
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.
There’s a definite sense of awe, fear, and hopelessness in the trailers we’ve seen, and it sounds like Nolan is going to focus on that more than the shock and horror of straight-up violent carnage. Everyone knows what happened on that beach. Nolan’s just going to tell it his way.
There was also a rumor going around last year that Nolan had crashed an actual antique airplane from the era worth $5 million. Fortunately, that’s not true.
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.
I personally cringe whenever anything happens to grand pianos or fancy cars in movies, so this is especially good news. Dunkirk arrives in theaters July 21.