Visionary director Christopher Nolan has returned with what may be his most critically-acclaimed film yet. Dunkirk is a World War II epic that tells the true story of the Dunkirk Miracle, when over 300,000 Allied troops were rescued from a beach in Dunkirk, France, where they were at risk of being wiped out by the Germans. And since this is a sweeping war epic, you're probably asking, is Dunkirk in IMAX worth it? In other words, will a standard movie screen do the film justice, or do you really need to shell out to see it on the biggest screen you can find?
The movie is 100 percent obligatory IMAX viewing, if you have the option. Nolan was an early adopter of the format, and is arguably more associated with IMAX than any other filmmaker. In 2008, he became the first director ever to use IMAX cameras to film scenes in a feature film, The Dark Knight, which became a monstrous box office hit thanks in part to its impressive IMAX screenings. Unlike most other directors today, Nolan prefers shooting on film over digital. He has eschewed 3D releases for all of his films, favoring instead 2D IMAX-only releases for Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar; the latter two of which had several scenes filmed with IMAX cameras. And when it comes to IMAX, Dunkirk is Nolan's most ambitious film yet.
Over 70 percent of the movie was filmed with IMAX cameras, a new record for a feature film, and the cameras were also used in new ways. For the first time ever, IMAX cameras — which way over 50 pounds — were used for extensive handheld shots, since handheld is the best way to shoot on board a boat and other tough-to-shoot locations. They were also bolted onto the wings of aircraft, capturing some incredible aerial footage for the film's dogfights, and used for underwater shots. The film is doing a number of things with IMAX that have literally never been done before.
"No one has ever shot as much IMAX as we’re doing. Most of the film is IMAX," Nolan told Fandango's Erik Davis. "With every film we’ve learned more and more how to maximize our ability to use those cameras, and we found ways to get those cameras into very unusual places for a camera that size, but the image quality speaks for itself. I think it’s going to be an extremely exciting presentation, particularly in those IMAX theaters."
If you were to only ever see one film in an IMAX theater, you should make it Dunkirk. The movie is more tailor-made for the format than any other film in history, and the payoff is definitely worth the extra few bucks.