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By Kirsty Fife on

Dunkirk on the big screen and in our collection

This year’s Widescreen Weekend opened with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which launched the yearly film festival on Thursday 12 October.

The keenly anticipated Dunkirk gained acclaim and attention not just because of the unusual structure of its narrative but also due to the array of film formats it was released on. This pushes Dunkirk and Nolan to the forefront of the revival of celluloid film. Shot using a combination of 65mm and IMAX cameras, the best way to view Dunkirk is on film—more specifically, on 70mm. Shooting on large negative also means you get a bigger, brighter and more vivid picture. Dunkirk was a perfect match for Widescreen Weekend, which celebrates large-screen formats and cinema technologies.

As part of this year’s Widescreen Weekend, we delved into the museum’s own collection for archive materials to use in the accompanying programme to the screening. The Daily Herald Archive, held on site at the National Science and Media Museum, is the former picture library of the Daily Herald newspaper. Active between 1911 and 1965, the paper reported during WW1 and WW2, covering everything from wartime fashion to military manoeuvres and key milestones of both war. Here’s an edited selection from the Dunkirk folders in the archive, along with details of the original captions found on the reverse of the photographs.

A photograph of a solider being helped onto a board at Dunkirk
A solider being helped onto a board at Dunkirk, Daily Herald Archive, 1983-5236/19711 © Science Museum Group collection

“Dunkirk Heroes Under Fire. …bombs were bursting and machine gun bullets were raining down on the beach at Dunkirk our soldiers took back what cover they could find in the unprotected sands. Photo shows hereuers help a solider aboard but are watching eagerly for more. 6.6.1940.”

A photograph of French and English troops disembarking in England after serving in Dunkirk
French and English troops disembarking in England after serving in Dunkirk, Daily Herald Archive, 1983-5236/19712 © Science Museum Group collection
A photograph of a human chain of soldiers stretching across Dunkirk beach to a ship leaving for England
A human chain of soldiers stretching across Dunkirk beach to a ship leaving for England, Daily Herald Archive, 1983-5236/19714 © Science Museum Group collection

“On the left a human chain is seen struggling out from the beach to one of the many ships which carried Allied troops safely to England.”

A photograph of two boats full of troops arriving in England from Dunkirk
Two boats full of troops arriving in England from Dunkirk, Daily Herald Archive, 1983-5236/19713 © Science Museum Group collection

“Return of the B.E.F. Troops arriving on a small craft. Small but Handy. They proved their worth in bringing the B.E.F. to our shores. These two small craft were able to land a number of men.”

If you missed Dunkirk at Widescreen Weekend, further 70mm screenings are taking place this evening (Monday 16 October), Tuesday 17 October, and Wednesday 18 October 2017. Don’t miss the chance to see this remarkable film as it was meant to be seen—book your tickets online now.

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