“This is true history”: Hans Zimmer Broke the Law on Foreign Soil For One Christopher Nolan Movie That Won Him His 11th Oscar Nomination

Hans Zimmer's bold move abroad for a Christopher Nolan masterpiece.

Hans Zimmer Dunkirk
Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Lazz R

SUMMARY

  • Hans Zimmer once confessed to breaking the law on foreign soil while working on Christopher Nolan's 2017 war thriller film Dunkirk.
  • He visited Normandy Beach and collected a handful of sand, which served as a poignant source of inspiration for his work.
  • However, this act inadvertently led to a violation of the law, as removing sand from the beaches for personal use is prohibited under the CAFRA Act.
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Renowned film score composer, Hans Zimmer once confessed to breaking the law on foreign soil while working on Christopher Nolan’s 2017 war thriller film Dunkirk. The film marked the sixth and so far last collaboration between Zimmer and the acclaimed filmmaker, bringing the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II to the silver screen.

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Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk | Credit: Warner Bros.

The film received high acclaim, earning praise for the direction, visuals, and sound, and Zimmer also earned his 11th Oscar nomination. However, his unconventional approach to creating the intricate score included a controversial act, taking sand from Normandy Beach to incorporate into the film’s music.

Hans Zimmer’s Unconventional Inspiration For Dunkirk’s Score

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer have collaborated on numerous projects over the years, including acclaimed films like The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar. However, their last collaboration led the renowned composer to take an unconventional inspiration.

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Dunkirk
Dunkirk | Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In an interview with Wallpaper*, Zimmer shared that while working on the film score of Dunkirk, he decided to visit Normandy Beach in France, the site of the largest seaborne invasion in World War II history.

Zimmer shared that while Nolan was busy with filming, he visited Normandy Beach and collected a handful of sand, which served as a poignant source of inspiration for his work. Reflecting on his experience, Zimmer shared during the interview,

While they were shooting, I went to the beach [in Normandy]. I thought: this is true history. And I just grabbed a handful of sand and took it with me, so that I would never forget what I was really writing about.

Hans Zimmer
Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer | Image credit: Richard Yaussi via Wikimedia Commons

However, this act inadvertently led to a violation of the law, as removing sand from the beaches for personal use is prohibited under the CAFRA Act. According to the Normandy Beach Improvement Association, “Removal of sand from the beaches for personal use is prohibited under the Act,” and offenders are liable to face civil and administrative penalties for such actions.

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Hans Zimmer Faced Unprecedented Challenges Crafting Score for Dunkirk

Hans Zimmer’s work on the 2017 war thriller film has been one of the most remarkable works of his career, leading him to earn an Oscar nomination. However, it was not without challenges. In a conversation with GQ, the acclaimed composer revealed that his approach, centered around a mathematical concept, led to a series of unforeseen challenges.

Chris liked this idea I had for the score—that it’s based on a mathematical idea—which seemed like a really good idea when I blurted it out. It created nothing but trouble for me.

Dunkirk
A still from Dunkirk | Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The challenges stemmed from the unprecedented nature of what he was pursuing. Zimmer even hesitated to refer the the initial versions of the score as “music,” as they were more of an experimental exploration.

“Every 10 seconds I would come up against an insurmountable problem and there were no solutions,” he said before adding, “because nobody had ever tried to solve any of this stuff.” Despite these formidable challenges, Zimmer ultimately crafted an innovative score for the movie.

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Dunkirk is available to stream on Prime Video.

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Written by Laxmi Rajput

Articles Published: 2429

Laxmi Rajput is a writer at Fandomwire. She finished her Post Graduation in Broadcast Journalism and worked as a Business News writer for a year. But her interest in entertainment and pop culture compelled her to find a way towards Entertainment Journalism. She has worked across various fields and has 2 years of experience in content writing. She likes reading, music, movies, and traveling. She aspires to become a fiction writer in the future.