is a particularly interesting script to look at as screenwriters, because it breaks pretty much every rule that you’ve likely been told about screenwriting or about filmmaking in general, or certainly about the war movie genre.
And yet this is a war movie that (for the most part) isn’t about winning but about losing.
A movie in which we watch not from the perspective of an audience being entertained by the fireworks, It’s an action movie in which the “good guys” don’t always win, and in which the bad guys can actually shoot.
Where there are no supervillains, but no super heroes either.
And by doing this, he drops you into the feeling of a war, creating a structure through the choices the characters make at every moment as they try to get what they want.
It’s a structure that feels like the real experience– that doesn’t feel manipulated by the director, that spoon feeds us hardly anything– and that ats the same time carries us from scene to scene through the characters eyes and through the characters choices.It’s a war movie in which planes don’t explode in spectacular fashion but rather disappear silently into the ocean.A movie in which fighter pilots are more concerned with running out of fuel than with bad-ass lines of dialogue.A movie in which the bravest choice may not be to fight but to accept the ugly truth of war. And at the same time, a movie about holding onto the values that tie us together, and the risk we all face when, in the face of our fears for our own survival, we forget to hold onto those values.presents an equally horrifying beach battle with virtually no blood at all.Rather than capturing the horror of war through gory violence and chaos, Nolan captures the same madness through the bloodless lens of orderly bureaucracy– lining his soldiers up in orderly bureaucratic rows on the beach– silently ducking them en masse as they are bombed, slaughtered and attacked.Whatever the worst thing that can happen, the most ironic thing that can happen, Christopher Nolan allows it to happen.When you do that, what happens is that your characters– whether they are talking or not, whether we know what is happening or not, whether we understand the situation or not– when your characters want something really badly, and keep taking actions to get it, and the worst possible thing keeps happening, it forces your characters to keep on making decisions.And the second is a character who wants something as badly as you do– who wants something so badly they’re willing to do almost anything to get it.Who’s going to pursue that intention even in face of the biggest obstacles and most challenging consequences.Nolan is a big fan of Hitchcock, and one of the things that Hitchcock demonstrates so clearly in his films– something forgotten by so many Hollywood filmmakers– is that you don’t have to explain very much for an audience to feel suspense or to feel connection for a character.Simply rooting a character in their action, in their attempts to get the things they want– simply rooting the character in their physical world and letting them try to do things that are really hard– creates a feeling of connection and suspense for the audience, even if we don’t know exactly what is happening and even if we don’t agree with what the characters are doing.