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65mm Filming for “Dunkirk” on Location in the Netherlands!

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: Jan-Hein Bal and Johan C.M. Wolthuis, 2 sept 2016. Date: 03.09.2016
Christopher Nolan was filming “Dunkirk” in May 2016 in France for three weeks and then moved to a location in the Netherlands where they started filming on June 20 for nearly four weeks.

An epic war movie, “Dunkirk” is set during the legendary evacuation, called Operation Dynamo. It was the name under which a great evacuation project started on May 26, 1940, hoping to save the life of 45 000 British, French and Belgium soldiers, that were surrounded at Dunkirk by German forces, who had entered France on May 14. 1940.

An enormous fleet of 35 Ferry ships, many British freight trawlers and fourty Dutch vessels escorted by British Navy vessels and armed fishing boats, nearly one thousand in total, were involved in Operation Dynamo. The soldiers that had to be evacuated, were attacked by the Germans from the landside and even from the seaside! The British Royal Air Force, did the utmost to prevent these attacks, which finally resulted in an unbelievable number of 338 000 British and French soldiers reaching the safe overside of the Channel in less then ten days.
More in 70mm reading:

Nolan's "Dunkirk" will feature over 100 minutes of IMAX material

Christopher Nolan to Direct the Epic Action Thriller “Dunkirk” in 65mm for Warner Bros. Pictures

Internet link:



Shooting started at the French Atlantic coast on May 23 on the site between Saint Malo and the Belgium border using many of the real locations of the true-life events, which form the background for the story. On May 26 filming started for some days nearby on the beach of Dunkirk with 1500 extras, fifteen enormous explosions and scale models of Spitfires.

The Netherlands

On Monday June 20th a crew consisting of 200 men and nearly a hundred local extras arrived in the harbour of the Dutch village of URK, a former island at the IJsselmeer coast, ready for action for nearly four weeks! And a fleet of thirty boats were available in the little harbour of Urk or off shore at the spot, including local fishing boats decorated with British flags and locals dressed as British fishermen. A nearby ferryboat with a regular service on the lake, was partly painted dark to make it less visible. Two helicopters,which were used for filming with Imax cameras from the air, and 6 old WWII planes like 3 Spitfires, a Bristol Blenheim, German Messerschmidt and a Yakovlev Yak-25TW arrived on Lelystad airport nearby on June 23. The planning was to film during 13 days above the sea location near Urk.

The village of Urk was the center of activities with a tented village on the harbour quay. which was heavily guarded and surrounded by black fences so nobody could see anything what was happening. A lot of hidden activities, like the construction of parts of a British Spitfire or a sunken ship were done here. Beside some scenes in the harbour, the real photography took place off shore, some miles outside the village on the lake IJsselmeer, a former see connected to the North Sea. It was choosen because of low Dutch tax charges and the climate. The lake is not deep (average 4-5 metres) and not so rough. Unfortunately they experienced a rather windy summer in the Netherlands. Often the fleet returned in the evening to the harbour but on our day of watching the set, the fleet, with two Dutch war ships painted in British colors, fishing boats, fast rubberboats, a firebrigade and a camera ship (with gyroscopic crane) returned already in the afternoon in the rain and continued with closeups in the harbour after the sun had returned. They had constructed a platform offshore under water level, were they could put parts of a sunken ship, etc. From that platform they could also easily launch a model of a Spitfire, creating a crash in the water as realistic as possible! The code name of the filming here in France and here in Urk was Bodega Bay. Some houses in the village were rented for the crew.


The film has been shot with a combination of IMAX 65mm cameras and Panavision System 65mm film cameras. The cast will be headed by Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and introducing Harry Styles, member of the One Direction-boyband. Several French girls and fans of Styles watched the set in France and now were waiting for days in the Dutch harbour hoping to photograph Styles.

Director of Photography is Hoyte van Hoytema, the well-known Dutch DOP from the other Nolan production Interstellar and from Sam Mendes' Spectre. Responsible for the waterstunts is Dan Malone, stunt coördinator, known from the Pirates of the Carribbean movies

Warner Bros will distribute “Dunkirk” worldwide for a July 21, 2017 release. The film will be released theatrically on IMAX, 70mm, 35mm and DCP. European premieres will be in: Belgium and France on 19 July 2017, in The Netherlands on 20 July 2017, Russia 20 July 2017, United Kingdom 21 July 2017, and Germany 27 July 2017. In the USA release will start 21 July 20.
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Updated 07-01-23