To help convey the “visceral realism” of Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” the director needed an intense soundscape for the legendary evacuation of more than 300,000 British and Allied troops under German bombardment.
In fact, Nolan needed three distinctly rhythmic soundscapes for this tick-tock, overlapping, World War II actioner that covers land, sea, and air. Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer came up with the sound of a ticking watch that plays throughout, and sound editor/sound designer Richard King provided the real-world soundscapes for mounting excitement, panic, and jeopardy.
“Chris wanted a sense of velocity and everything’s happening so fast with the enemy approaching at their own speed, so there’s a time limit,” said King, Oscar winner for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Inception.”
“Rather than observing it off in the distance, Chris really wanted to make you feel how horrible that would be, and to try and help the audience appreciate that,” King said.