With Nolan’s Dunkirk, 70mm is Back and Going to War

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

I’ve said it before. Even though IMAX is impressive, 70mm is my all time favorite film format. There’s just something about the color, the grain, and the sound. So when I heard that Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK was going to be released nation wide in 70mm, I got totally stoked.

Ironically, director Christopher Nolan and his cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, shot about three quarters of the film on IMAX thanks to their 65mm camera and Panavision large format lenses. But that’s OK because it’s close enough for me. And It apparently has come out so well, that the studio has decided to release it in 70mm in 125 theaters across the US, which makes it the widest release in the film format in over 25 years.

The last feature to go big was Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which he shot on 65mm Alexa and some extremely vintage anamorphic lenses. With the huge format, and the nature of shooting 2.35-1, Tarantino would have to find theaters that could accommodate the format. Even going so far as spending upwards of $8 million to put 70mm projectors in select theaters so they could show it.

But while Nolan wanted to go wide in scope, he was also cognizant of the reality that being a war film, much of the action scenes would be shot handheld to give it a more kinetic feel. So Hotema did something that few cinematographers would even try … he shot many of the scenes hand-held with that huge IMAX 65mm camera.

“Hoyte hand-held the [IMAX] camera for a few sections of Interstellar very effectively,” Nolan told Entertainment Weekly, “and then on this, I had to break the news to him that he was going to be doing it for a massive amount of the film. We could get on a small boat with a number of characters and just shoot IMAX as if we were shooting with a GoPro.”


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