Warner Bros.


release date 07/21/17
April 04, 2017 at 02:08 PM EDT

Christopher Nolan is a modern master of suspense, and his decision to craft a PG-13 film set during the bloody battles of WWII has some fans scratching their heads.

Ahead of the film’s summer premiere, Nolan is explaining the decision to shy away from depicting the gruesome realities of combat in the upcoming drama.

“All of my big blockbuster films have been PG-13. It’s a rating I feel comfortable working with totally,” the three-time Oscar nominee told the Associated Press during a recent interview at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. “Dunkirk is not a war film. It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film.”

Though other films that recreate war-era action – like Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan – include graphic scenes of gory violence, Nolan explained his film will work to shock the audience with such jarring images.

“While there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way. I would really like lots of different types of people to get something out of the experience,” Nolan said of the project, which follows a band of Allied soldiers from Europe and Canada who, after being surrounded by the German army, embark on an intense evacuation as WWII rages around them.

Dunkirk invades theaters July 21. Watch the film’s trailer above, and check out his full Q&A with the AP here.

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Fionn Whitehead,
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