Earlier in 2017, Christopher Nolan’s war film masterpiece, Dunkirk, came out. The film depicts the evacuation of English soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940. One film enthusiast has edited selected scenes into a short silent film to embrace Dunkirk’s strong visual story-telling.
Nolan, the director, stated that silent films had a lot of influence on how he shot the film. “I spent a lot of time reviewing the silent films for crowd scenes – the way extras move, evolve, how space is staged and how the cameras capture it, the views used.” A lot of work went into analyzing the pre-war silent film era, therefore we can see why this student decided to write an essay on the subject.
Silent films might have to make a comeback
Tom van der Linden, from Nijmegen in the Netherlands, posted an 8-minute short film translation of Dunkirk to his YouTube Channel. The channel “Like Stories of Old” has garnered 39K subscribers and has many film analyses’ to choose from.
The Dunkirk silent film is made up of clips from the original film, converted to black and white. No dialogue can be heard, as per the tropes of silent film. However, a triumphant score fills the background. To allow the viewer to further understand what is taking place, captions are interspersed with places, times, and dialogue.
Furthermore, the video starts with a clip of Nolan discussing his silent film influences, clearly the catalyst for this experiment in editing. Tom’s version makes use of the way Nolan told the story, stating at the beginning “Told in three acts: land, sea & air”. The editing truly looks like a silent film, with an added vignette to the clips. Nolan is also known for his use of traditional film. Therefore, you can see why the film had an easy transition into a silent film style. Tom stated, “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.”
Check out this short film about the beauty of the diversity of skin colour!