A few words about…™ Dunkirk — in 4k UHD Blu-ray

Very Highly Recommended 4 Stars

Between the start of modern large format (65mm) cinema production, with Oklahoma! in 1955, and today, around fifty English language feature films were created.

I would gauge that around 50% of those were worth producing a such. Far fewer stand the test of time.

Does it then, come down to hubris, for Christopher Nolan to spend 100 million dollars to shoot a film about Dunkirk in both IMAX and 70mm?

I’m a huge fan of his work, especially his Batman films, but I proffer than decades from today, the film representing his work, that will best stand the test of time, will be Dunkirk.

Dunkirk is a film that defines the logic of large format cinematography in an era when film is looked upon as a dinosaur.

It’s a magisterial production. A tiny story, told on a huge canvas.

Something of which I believe Sir David would allow a nod of approval.

I viewed it initially in IMAX 70/15, and am pleased to report that Warner Bros. new 4k UHD Blu-ray accurately reproduces the look, textures and audio of the original.

Dunkirk is one of those films, that can be counted on the fingers of a single hand, that stands as a rationale to not only go 4k, but projection.

It’s an extraordinary home theatre achievement, that is so highly resolved and filled with detail it takes on an otherworldly aura.

Anyone on the fence regarding 4k, need only to look toward Dunkirk.

An extraordinary cinematic achievement, translated meticulously to 4k UHD Blu-ray.

To my eyes, the 4k disc of the year.

As an aside, once you see Dunkirk, best to move along smartly and also view Darkest Hour, which covers a similar period and situation, in a very symbiotic manner.

Image – 5*

Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

4k – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

author,member

49 Comments

  1. benbess

    Great review. Thanks. Looking forward to experiencing Dunkirk on my 4k player/TV.

    But doesn't VistaVision count as large format? There are more than 60 titles in VistaVision alone….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_VistaVision_films

    PS My other favorite Christopher Nolan movie is The Prestige, which I think is brilliant. Is that one coming to 4k too? I hope so….

    65mm origination is very different from either VVLA or TLA. My comments were directly referencing 65mm negatives.

  2. Dunkirk is the only film in years that I've seen 3 times in one month: once in 70mm film; twice in IMAX (not LieMax, but not 70/15, since I'm not near LA nor NYC). It is indeed a film that will probably stand the test of time.

  3. Absolutely one of the best films of the year for me too.

    Will still have to wait a bit to convert to native 4K projection, but prices are coming down – this year's Sony VPL-VW675ES is $15 000 and is capable of producing 53 foot-Lamberts (fL) in HDR mode using the Bright Cinema setting, high lamp mode, iris wide open, and Contrast set to 70 using an 82-inch wide projection screen with verified 1.0 gain.

    Maybe in two years' time I can premiere a 4K double-bill of Dunkirk and Lawrence Of Arabia in my living room?

  4. benbess

    Great review. Thanks. Looking forward to experiencing Dunkirk on my 4k player/TV.

    But doesn't VistaVision count as large format? There are more than 60 titles in VistaVision alone….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_VistaVision_films

    PS My other favorite Christopher Nolan movie is The Prestige, which I think is brilliant. Is that one coming to 4k too? I hope so….

    The Pestige was announced months ago the same time as Dunkirk. It also comes out tomorrow on 4K along with Interstellar, Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy.

  5. Lawrence/Dunkirk would be an interesting double bill, but to me the more apt Lean double feature with this would be In Which We Serve, which struck me as a clear inspiration for Nolan's film. It's also a sorely underrated Lean work.

  6. Robert Harris

    […]It's a magisterial production. A tiny story, told on a huge canvas.

    Something of which I believe Sir David would allow a nod of approval.[…]

    Not a coincidence that Christopher Nolan's BFI Southbank selections from July of 2017 included "Ryan's Daughter".

  7. Malcolm R

    Is it worth a blind buy/watch? 😛

    Your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for the following elements:
    (a) non-linear narrative;
    (b) shifting aspect ratios;
    (c) how loud you are willing to crank your sound system and risk the wrath of your neighbours; and
    (d) not being spoon-fed exposition
    If you can handle at least three out of four here, you should be fine, but Dunkirk really demands to be seen on as large a screen as possible with as thunderous a sound system as possible. It is a truly visceral experience.

  8. benbess

    Great review. Thanks. Looking forward to experiencing Dunkirk on my 4k player/TV.

    But doesn't VistaVision count as large format? There are more than 60 titles in VistaVision alone….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_VistaVision_films

    PS My other favorite Christopher Nolan movie is The Prestige, which I think is brilliant. Is that one coming to 4k too? I hope so….

    Yes it's just been released & available to purchase on it's own or in the Nolan 7 film 4K boxset.

  9. Tino

    The Pestige was announced months ago the same time as Dunkirk. It also comes out tomorrow on 4K along with Interstellar, Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy.

    Amazon doesn't have a listing for The Prestige, but Best Buy does.

  10. Stephen_J_H

    Your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for the following elements:
    (a) non-linear narrative;
    (b) shifting aspect ratios;
    (c) how loud you are willing to crank your sound system and risk the wrath of your neighbours; and
    (d) not being spoon-fed exposition
    If you can handle at least three out of four here, you should be fine, but Dunkirk really demands to be seen on as large a screen as possible with as thunderous a sound system as possible. It is a truly visceral experience.

    "B" is less noticeable here than usual because so much of the movie is IMAX ratio! 🙂

  11. PMF

    Not a coincidence that Christopher Nolan's BFI Southbank selections from July of 2017 included "Ryan's Daughter".

    Yes I saw the 70mm print of Ryans Daughter the 2 times it was screened and it looked and sounded fab.
    The 70mm print was from Swedish Film Archive.

  12. DP 70

    Yes I saw the 70mm print of Ryans Daughter the 2 times it was screened and it looked and sounded fab.
    The 70mm print was from Swedish Film Archive.

    They've given us Ingmar Bergman; they've archived a 70mm print of a David Lean film; and they even gave us ABBA.:thumbs-up-smiley:
    I ask you, now, what's not to love about Sweden?:)
    Not wantiing to veer too far off from Dunkirk and this thread; but your seeing "Ryan's Daughter" twice speaks volumes on how this film endures and how mamothly grand it still looks. An envious experience for DP 70, for sure.:cool:

  13. I'm going for it. I'm gonna get me the Christopher Nolan 7 pack. Not set up for 4K yet; but its a pre-order steal and a good investment. Plus I'll still be getting the BD's for the interum. How could anyone go wrong with that?:thumbs-up-smiley:

  14. PMF

    I'm going for it. I'm gonna get me the Christopher Nolan 7 pack. Not set up for 4K yet; but its a pre-order steal and a good investment. Plus I'll still be getting the BD's for the interum. How could anyone go wrong with that?:thumbs-up-smiley:

    If you're not aware of the deal going on for it at WBShop:

    http://www.wbshop.com/product/chris…000646881.do?AID=11248029&PID=5147715&ref=CJP

    Use the code WB10 for an additional $10 off.

  15. PMF

    I'm going for it. I'm gonna get me the Christopher Nolan 7 pack. Not set up for 4K yet; but its a pre-order steal and a good investment. Plus I'll still be getting the BD's for the interum. How could anyone go wrong with that?:thumbs-up-smiley:

    Nothing as long as digital copies aren’t important to you as the box set doesn’t include them.

    Bought all Seven Nolan films separately today for $161 with UHD digital codes included.

  16. PMF

    Any takers on "Dunkirk" winning Best Cinematography for Hoyte van Hoytema?:thumbs-up-smiley:

    Hell yes

    It will win all the technical awards and some major ones including editing, score, costume design and maybe even director and picture.

    It will absolutely lead the Oscar Nominations when they are announced next month.

  17. PMF

    They've given us Ingmar Bergman; they've archived a 70mm print of a David Lean film; and they even gave us ABBA.:thumbs-up-smiley:
    I ask you, now, what's not to love about Sweden?:)
    Not wantiing to veer too far off from Dunkirk and this thread; but your seeing "Ryan's Daughter" twice speaks volumes on how this film endures and how mamothly grand it still looks. An envious experience for DP 70, for sure.:cool:

    Having seen the exact same print as DP70 – on a DP70 by the way – I can confirm that it looks fantastic. The Swedish film institute holds some real gems.
    What you see with such a print can only be adequately reproduced with a UHD disc so here's hoping we will see Ryan's Daughter in that format at some point. Maybe Christopher Nolan will put in a good word?

  18. I went to see this twice in theatres, once in IMAX 15-perf/70mm and once in the new Laser IMAX (Toronto) which has the new 12-channel sound system. I was very excited to see this in Laser IMAX due to it being in 2D, as it's not limited to 4K with the dual laser system like 3D is. In virtually every aspect, IMAX with Laser blew the 15/70 presentation away. The sound, holy wowza the sound was so much more forceful, in particular the depths being plummeted were so visceral, chest-pounding. This is one aspect you can really come close to in the home with the right system and the 25 mins I managed to watch yesterday made me very happy I have two Paradigm Servo 15s (one 15a and one 15v2).

    The more than doubled contrast ratio made everything so incredibly clear and detailed, the perfect projection vs. the tell-tale signs of the film strip that's on it's "x"th run through the projector, the lack of projector noise, the rich and lifelike colors, the inky OLED-like blacks and of course all complimented by the far darker ambient lighting in house vs. the standard 4K cinemas (UltraAVX) one has in Canada.

    And now we have that same perfect picture on 4K disc looking absolutely stunning..but I can't help watching it thinking to myself how much more massive and immersive it was seeing this in Laser IMAX with 75% of the movie at the full IMAX AR.

    Reference disc through and through, and I love that RAH feels the way he does about the movie…it truly is remarkable.

  19. Edwin-S

    After watching this in 15/70 IMAX, there is no way that a home video release of this film could come even close to that experience, sonically or visually.

    True. Saw it the same way.

    dpippel

    But this is probably as good as a home video release could possibly be. I'll take it.

    Also true, for at least a decade. Probably longer (save perhaps for those who have room to accommodate extremely large screens—an 8k version may well work for those few).

    I’m not 4K capable at the moment (won’t be for a while as I just replaced my projector last year) but I will be going from 64 to 84” diagonally 16:9 once I have time to install my new screen, so I look forward to seeing this soon (and will future proof my purchase with the 4K version).

  20. OliverK

    Having seen the exact same print as DP70 – on a DP70 by the way – I can confirm that it looks fantastic. The Swedish film institute holds some real gems.
    What you see with such a print can only be adequately reproduced with a UHD disc so here's hoping we will see Ryan's Daughter in that format at some point. Maybe Christopher Nolan will put in a good word?

    We haven't even seen Ryan's Daughter in Blu-ray yet.

  21. PMF

    Ouch !!
    The race is now definitely on.
    The Roger Deakins scorecard:
    Nominations – 13
    Wins – 0

    OK then,
    Stanley Kubrick, Nominations – 4, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Orson Welles, Nominations – 1, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Alfred Hitchcock, Nominations – 5, Wins – 0
    Martin Scorsese, Nominations – 8, Wins – 1 (as director)

    Peter O'Toole, Nominations – 8, Wins – 0 (1 honorary win)

    To paraphrase Mr Big, "scorecards are for tombstones, baby"

  22. PMF

    Ouch !!
    The race is now definitely on.
    The Roger Deakins scorecard:
    Nominations – 13
    Wins – 0

    OK then,
    Stanley Kubrick, Nominations – 4, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Orson Welles, Nominations – 1, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Alfred Hitchcock, Nominations – 5, Wins – 0
    Martin Scorsese, Nominations – 8, Wins – 1 (as director)

    Peter O'Toole, Nominations – 8, Wins – 0 (1 honorary win)

    To paraphrase Mr Big, "scorecards are for tombstones, baby"

  23. PMF

    Ouch !!
    The race is now definitely on.
    The Roger Deakins scorecard:
    Nominations – 13
    Wins – 0

    OK then,
    Stanley Kubrick, Nominations – 4, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Orson Welles, Nominations – 1, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Alfred Hitchcock, Nominations – 5, Wins – 0
    Martin Scorsese, Nominations – 8, Wins – 1 (as director)

    Peter O'Toole, Nominations – 8, Wins – 0 (1 honorary win)

    To paraphrase Mr Big, "scorecards are for tombstones, baby"

  24. DonovanCampbell

    OK then,
    Stanley Kubrick, Nominations – 4, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Orson Welles, Nominations – 1, Wins – 0 (as director)
    Alfred Hitchcock, Nominations – 5, Wins – 0
    Martin Scorsese, Nominations – 8, Wins – 1 (as director)

    Peter O'Toole, Nominations – 8, Wins – 0 (1 honorary win)

    To paraphrase Mr Big, "scorecards are for tombstones, baby"

    Not certain if you thought that I was challenging your choice; as I was not. I was simply saying that with 13 nominations and zero wins, well… it is something to be reckoned with when speaking of those who may be deemed as overdue. BTW, the most offensive numbers of the scorecard goes to Peter O' Toole; as those 8 slights will forever remain on the Academy's head and history.

  25. PMF

    Not certain if you thought that I was challenging your choice; as I was not. I was simply saying that with 13 nominations and zero wins, well… it is something to be reckoned with when speaking of those who may be deemed as overdue. BTW, the most offensive numbers of the scorecard goes to Peter O' Toole; as those 8 slights will forever remain on the Academy's head and history.

    Well, your use of the word scorecard does imply winners and losers, but I took no offense howsoever (thank you Alan Arkin). I remember the reviews for Blade Runner 2049 and near universal praise for Deakins' work, with most comments implying that he'll finally get his Oscar. It's one race this year that will be interesting.

  26. George_W_K

    Finally received my discs. This looked phenomenal! No brainer purchase if you're a fan of the movie, or just want demo material.

    Of the Nolan 4Ks, I prefer "Dark Knight" and "Interstellar" for "demo material" simply because they're "shinier" productions.

    "Dunkirk" does look great, but it's got a "grittier" vibe that leans away from the eye candy of the other films.

    (And "Dark Knight" is easily the most improved of the 4Ks compared to the Blu-ray!)

  27. My Dark Knight disc is defective, it won't even play. I was looking very forward to the opening of that. I only checked out a little bit of Interstellar, but the water planet scene – WOW, what a difference when you compare to the bluray. Entering the wormhole was awesome too. The HDR and extra detail makes a big difference. The farmhouse scene when he's talking to his daughter right before he leaves didn't look much different to me. But when the IMAX footage starts the PQ jumps up noticibly compared to the bluray.

    I watched all of Dunkirk and the detail throughout is gorgeous. The extra color, detail, and brightness of the opening beach scenes are a great example of what 4k has to offer over bluray.

  28. Mark VH

    Lawrence/Dunkirk would be an interesting double bill, but to me the more apt Lean double feature with this would be In Which We Serve, which struck me as a clear inspiration for Nolan's film. It's also a sorely underrated Lean work.

    Just don't have much to drink before you start it!

  29. I hadn’t read anything about this UHD release but bought it and immediately redeemed the digital code. I was playing with the ATV 4K today and wanted to watch some of Dunkirk to test for the 4K streaming quality . The widescreen picture was gorgeous but the sound had to be cranked extremely high. So I thought let me try the disc and POW the image filled the entire screen and the sound kicked it! So now I cannot believe what I have thanks to you guys discussing here. What a demo film I am showing this weekend!

  30. noel aguirre

    The widescreen picture was gorgeous but the sound had to be cranked extremely high. So I thought let me try the disc and POW the image filled the entire screen and the sound kicked it!

    That's pretty standard for Nolan – the BD and UHD versions contain shifting aspect ratios to simulate the IMAX presentation (going back and forth between 1.78:1 and 2.20:1) while the DVD and digital versions are at a constant 2.20:1 ratio and represent the standard digital and standard 70mm presentation. Both options are valid, but I personally prefer the shifting aspect ratio presentation from the disc that better simulates how I saw the film in IMAX.

  31. Josh Steinberg

    That's pretty standard for Nolan – the BD and UHD versions contain shifting aspect ratios to simulate the IMAX presentation (going back and forth between 1.78:1 and 2.20:1) while the DVD and digital versions are at a constant 2.20:1 ratio and represent the standard digital and standard 70mm presentation. Both options are valid, but I personally prefer the shifting aspect ratio presentation from the disc that better simulates how I saw the film in IMAX.

    But it seemed odd that the 4K digital version didn’t have the same ratio as the 4K disc. So this is a different 4K transfer I gather?

  32. noel aguirre

    But it seemed odd that the 4K digital version didn’t have the same ratio as the 4K disc. So this is a different 4K transfer I gather?

    This would be a harvest of the 65mm 2.20:1 5-perf neg and an extraction of the 1.44:1 15-perf IMAX neg, so the material harvested from 5-perf would be identical, while the 15-perf stuff would be cropped to fit the 2.20:1 AR. Similarly, the 4K UHD version is not a complete extraction of the IMAX 1.44:1 negative; it's cropped to 1.78:1.

  33. noel aguirre

    But it seemed odd that the 4K digital version didn’t have the same ratio as the 4K disc. So this is a different 4K transfer I gather?

    Stephen_J_H

    This would be a harvest of the 65mm 2.20:1 5-perf neg and an extraction of the 1.44:1 15-perf IMAX neg, so the material harvested from 5-perf would be identical, while the 15-perf stuff would be cropped to fit the 2.20:1 AR. Similarly, the 4K UHD version is not a complete extraction of the IMAX 1.44:1 negative; it's cropped to 1.78:1.

    My understanding, and this could be incorrect, is that they're actually from different sources, as both versions of the film were finished photochemically and then scanned to create the digital assets used in theaters. Theatrically, the standard (2.20:1) DCP came from a color-timed 70mm IP, while the IMAX DCP (for digital IMAX locations) came from a 15/70 color-timed IP. I would assume that the home video and streaming releases were based on those two sources.

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