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Kenneth Branagh

'Dunkirk' editor Lee Smith fused a tense score and three story lines to make history new

'Dunkirk' editor Lee Smith fused a tense score and three story lines to make history new

Lee Smith had edited six films for Christopher Nolan by the time he arrived on an intemperate beach in northern France.

The director handed him headphones and said their new collaboration had sparse dialogue but would pulse with incessant sound, like the ticking of a clock, to capture the quickening fear of more than 300,000 Allied soldiers trapped in the sand by an advancing German army.

“The movie was a visceral experience rather than a spoken narrative,” said Smith, nominated for a film editing Academy Award for “Dunkirk.” “The challenge of having a lack of dialogue means the conventions of that style of editing disappear and you’ve got to tell the story as if it’s a silent...

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