While out talking about his huge-screen epic Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has been vocal about how he feels about small-screen companies like Netflix that sometimes keep movies out of cinemas. "Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical films," he said. "They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released. I think the investment that Netflix is putting into interesting filmmakers and interesting projects would be more admirable if it weren't being used as some kind of bizarre leverage against shutting down theatres. It's so pointless. I don't really get it."

Chris Nolan on the set of DunkirkChris Nolan on the set of Dunkirk

While Netflix insists that it isn't trying to close cinemas as it promotes its online platform, Nolan is adamant that his movies are designed to be seen on large screens as a communal experience.

Indeed, Dunkirk was shot mainly in Imax, with additional 65mm footage, to make it as big as possible. And yet critics have pointed out that it's a very personal film. "I refer to it as an intimate epic," Nolan says. "That was very much my ambition for this film. To immerse the audience visually. And by contrasting multiple points of view, but each told in a disciplined way, to try and build up a larger picture of the extraordinary events at Dunkirk. You've got 400,000 men on this beach, pretty much within sight of England, the enemy closing in on all sides, faced with really the choice between surrender and annihilation. And the fact that this story does not end in either surrender or annihilation is why, for me, I think it's one of the greatest stories in human history."

Nolan's most memorable films, from Memento and Inception to the Dark Knight trilogy, all have this combination of spectacle and intimacy. "I try to only make films that I feel very connected with on some emotional level," he says. "This is the first time I've taken on a real-life event, and there's a huge responsibility that comes with that."

It's rare for a war-themed movie to cross over so strongly with mainstream audiences. But perhaps this has something to do with casting Harry Styles in a significant role. "Oh, I'm very much patting myself on the back," Nolan laughs. "The truth is ever since I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker and raised all kinds of eyebrows, I've recognised that this is my responsibility. I really have to spot the potential in somebody who hasn't done a particular thing before. What Harry has done in the film is truthful, and it's a very tough role he's playing too."

Watch the trailer for Dunkirk: