Christopher Nolan’s thrilling World War II epic Dunkirk tells the true story of the harrowing evacuation of British allied forces from a French beach. It’s undoubtedly one of 2017’s finest films, a virtuoso display of moviemaking that hardly needed dialogue to leave critics and audiences gobsmacked. The director very nearly shot the film with no script whatsoever, insisting, “I don’t want a script. Because I just want to show it.”
Indeed, Dunkirk is a masterclass in the art of visual storytelling, and YouTuber Tom van der Linden has gone to great lengths to prove that point: He’s edited Dunkirk down into an eight-minute silent film, distilling the harrowing thriller into a concise showcase of its singular power. (Spoilers abound, so beware if you somehow have yet to see the movie itself.)
“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),” van der Linden recalled in a YouTube comment. “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.”
“I tried as much as possible to maintain the essence of Dunkirk,” van der Linden added, “but I also wanted it to stand on its own which meant I had to pay a lot of attention to its internal logic and do some creative editing.” Much like the Miracle of Dunkirk itself, van der Linden’s efforts were an overwhelming success—his edit allows one to appreciate Nolan’s masterwork in a brand new way.
Read our glowing review of Nolan’s film here, and watch the silent film version of Dunkirk above.