“He’s a man through which passes really the most miraculous moment of the story,” Kenneth Branagh says about the highlight of playing a navy commander in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed war epic “Dunkirk.” In our recent webchat interview (watch the exclusive video above), he explains, “In addition to the vast forces at work from the army and navy and air force, come all of these little ships, all of England came out to help their boys… it was a beautiful thing to play how the first person to see the symbolism of we are not alone, we haven’t been given up on, they care about us back home.”
In “Dunkirk,” director Nolan brings to life the fabled evacuation of allied soldiers on the beach at Dunkirk, France. With England only a few miles off the coast, hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers fought tenaciously against all odds to escape certain peril in extremely difficult conditions. The film is a tense spectacle, told from three perspectives (land, sea and air) as these men are rescued at the last minute by hundreds of small civilian ships that have answered the call of their countrymen and sailed across the English Channel to save them.
Branagh plays Commander Bolton, a character based on a number of real-life pier-commanders that were instrumental during the evacuation in keeping a sense of order in the chaos. Branagh relished the role because it is through him that we experience the emotion of the climactic rescue operation towards the end of the harrowing film. “Someone like Bolton, who’s been through another war and seen a whole generation be lost, for him it’s critically important that this generation can potentially be saved. And I think [with him] there’s a great compassion as well as a tough love.”
In addition to starring in “Dunkirk,” Branagh is back in the director’s chair with his new adaptation of the famous Agatha Christie novel “Murder on the Orient Express,” in which he also stars as the seminal detective Hercule Poirot. It is a familiar story that Branagh was keen to revive. “Great stories demand to be retold,” the multi-hyphenate writer, director, actor and producer declares. “The reason to do it again is to bring out what is central to it. This primitivism, a revenge story of such filthy passion that produces a moral conundrum that I found audiences really want to engage with, they enjoy the grey areas,” he proclaims.
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