War is hell, and for many filmmakers, depicting hell requires an R rating. This has been the case for a good number of history’s most acclaimed war movies, from Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket to Saving Private Ryan, Letters from Iwo Jima andThe Hurt Locker. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk won’t be joining that list, however, for the film has just been slapped with a PG-13 rating for “intense war experience and language.”
Whether this decision to cut back on the customary use of graphic carnage within war movies was more Nolan’s idea or the studio’s is unclear. The tamer MPAA designation could be the result of the filmmaker’s propensity for the cerebral over the visceral, or it could merely be the product of studio execs wanting to reach the largest movie-going demographic with their latest high-profile release (or both). Regardless, the challenge of delivering on the promise of an “intense war experience” from within the flimsy walls of a PG-13 rating is a fascinating one, and if anyone could flourish under such restrictions, it would be Christopher Nolan. From The Prestige to The Dark Knight, Nolan’s PG-13 pictures have repeatedly surpassed most R-rated films in intensity.
News of Dunkirk’s rating follows last month’s report that the director will be complicating traditional narrative structures by telling his story from three different points of view. Between these two latest developments, it looks like Dunkirk won’t be an ordinary war movie. Naturally, we are more excited than ever.
Check out the trailer for the film here. Dunkirk opens nationwide on July 21.