Christopher Nolan had the idea to make Dunkirk while on a choppy 19-hour boat ride with his wife Emma Thomas more than 20 years ago.
The epic war film, released in July (17), depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II, focusing on the rescue of Allied soldiers from the beaches of France.
Dunkirk has received acclaim from film critics, and Nolan has now revealed that he first hatched the idea to make the movie while on a boat trip with his producer wife and a friend.
“I remember Emma and I made a trip with a friend of ours on a boat – many years ago,” he told the audience at a Lincoln Ristorante Q&A with George Stevens Jr., according to Page Six. “We thought it would take us six or seven hours. It took 18 to 19 hours. It was very, very cold. The sea was very, very rough with the channels.”
Realizing the injured and traumatized British soldiers back in 1940 would have experienced more arduous conditions while making the crossing across the English Channel, Nolan decided to make a movie documenting that harrowing battle and rescue operation.
“We came out of that experience… with a great amount respect for the reality of what actually happened (during Dunkirk),” he said. “What would it really have been like to get on a boat and make a crossing like that, but not be on holidays as we were, just going to hang around and prance for a bit – that just stuck with both of us over the years.”
Dunkirk featured an all-star cast of actors, including the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy and Harry Styles.