Watch the Harrowing First Trailer for Christopher Nolan's World War II Movie, Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan’s ability to make big-budget, enjoyable blockbusters that also stand up to some thought and discussion has made him one of those few movie directors whose name alone is enough to draw an audience to a movie. That’s probably why he’s the only person on the cast and crew whose name appears in the new teaser for his next movie, Dunkirk.

The trailer doesn’t really tell us much about the film’s plot or characters, except that there are a bunch of soldiers, including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and One Direction’s Harry Styles, at Dunkirk, trying to escape the advancing German army and get across the sea to England. The trailer says that “Hope is a weapon,” but it certainly doesn’t feel hopeful, with the ticking bomb sound in the background, the German pamphlets taunting the soldiers to surrender, and the gruesome images of dead and dying soldiers.

With a well-respected action movie director taking on World War II with major sequences set on the beaches of France, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, but there are worse things to be compared to. Combine Nolan’s skill at directing large-scale action sequences with a dramatic true WWII story and you could have a serious awards contender, along with a big summer blockbuster.

Watch the first Dunkirk trailer above.