Before Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk came out this summer, the director spoke about how much influence the movie took from the bygone era of silent films.
A new edit of Dunkirk from YouTuber “Like Stories of Old” reimagines Nolan’s war epic as an eight-minute silent film, removing all of that unnecessary dialogue and exposition. The goal was to showcase how powerful Nolan’s directing and shaping of the film was; how conversation was an added bonus for Dunkirk viewers but not necessary.
Tom, who runs Like Stories of Old, explained that the video started off as a simpler essay exploring how Nolan uses visual storytelling and influences from silent films, but it became a much bigger project.
“It began when I re-edited a few clips from Dunkirk into a silent film style to compare it to existing silent films that Nolan mentioned as his inspirations (and also; because it was just really fun to do),” Tom wrote in the comments section. “I was amazed at how well it translated and how well it highlighted Nolan’s use of camera angles, body language, facial expressions and staging in Dunkirk’s storytelling; a great use of visuals both in portraying minor conflicts as well as in telling the story as a whole.”
Tom’s comments echo an earlier quote Nolan gave to Fandango in March, before Dunkirk was released. Nolan said the intention was always to approach the film with a spotlight on how important the visual aspect of the movie was. By drawing influence from how directors of the silent film period told their stories through visual tricks and framing, Nolan figured out how he would tell the story of Dunkirk.
“There’s dialogue in the film, but we really tried to approach the storytelling very much from a visual point of view, and an action-and-suspense point of view … It’s something I value in films and film history; I’m an incredible lover of silent films,” Nolan said. “The challenge of taking on what I call a present-tense narrative – that is to say, we don’t learn a lot about the people we’re experiencing this with. We really just try to live in the moment and experience it with them, and look through their eyes.”
The eight-minute recut doesn’t replace Dunkirk, but it’s an interesting way to explore the movie — and one that Nolan is probably happy he was able to inspire.