Monday, July 25, 2016


Welcome to another installment of the DIRECTOR SERIES, where we take a look at directors in the world of film and the advancements they have made, the style they possess and where their place is in the history of cinema. Today, we take a look at probably one of the most important storytellers to have emerged out of the 21st century. The man behind the masterful science fiction films, and the glorious superhero trilogy...CHRISTOPHER NOLAN.

When most film students enter film school all they want to do is talk about drugs, guns, violence, and sex in their films. And this is considered by most professors the quickest way for you to fail as a film student. Don’t get me wrong I love a good dialogue filled film, but it’s nice to see people succeed at the guns and violence genre. But it seems so hard to come across directors who have the ability to mix good dialogue and good purposeful action. So today we look at maybe the only director who has successfully tackled these two principles, Christopher Nolan.

He may not be known for his action bits, but that’s because he uses his action scenes to his advantage. Instead of just having pointless action scenes where buildings explode and the hero dodges every bullet shot at him, Nolan manages to have the action make sense. When his characters come to a stale mate in the story, they are “backed into a corner” of sorts and have no choice but to just start swinging. Something unique about Nolan’s action is when his heroes are forced into this situation they aren’t masters of violence, sometimes they actually are bad at it. Like the small tussle scene in Interstellar, both of these characters have no experience in a fight, one’s a scientist and the other is an engineer. Part of what makes Nolan’s fight scenes great is that they are realistic. A majority of the fight in Interstellar is the two of them rolling around. Even in Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight series, Batman isn’t always just knocking everyone around, he gets hit sometimes too which makes him human which leads us into Christopher Nolan’s best element as a film maker, humanity.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the films of Christopher Nolan, it’s that he is a fan of humanity, and seeing human interaction and change within their personalities. These moments are special to Nolan and they become more special to us as an audience because of the situations that these characters are in. Often, we find Nolan’s characters in mystical thriller situations or scientific extravaganza. We’ve even seen him take on a comic book adaptation and Nolan somehow made us forget we were watching a Batman movie. Personally, Im not a huge fan of the Batman movies, I believe Nolan’s beauty lies in his other films but the Dark Knight series only adds to his repertoire. The Dark Knight movies hold very human and believable emotional moments of interaction between characters even though it is set in Gotham city. Christian Bale changes personalities yet again and we see transforming performances from actors like Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, and Aaron Eckhart. If there’s anything Nolan understands as a director, it’s how to give characters humanity and make them vulnerable. We often see weakness in these characters through another supporting character in the film and that causes these characters to slip up in some sort of way. But anybody can create emotional moments right? Well that is true, but Nolan can create human moments in non human situations. Now what do I mean by that? Well inside of the mystical question filled thrillers of Nolan, we see situation way beyond anything we could come close to encountering or being apart of. Within the scientifically thought provoking world of science fiction, we in a million years will never invent or come across the technologies to be even remotely knowledgable in these situations. But yet, with no knowledge of how humans would interact with one other in these outlandish scenarios, Christopher Nolan has figured it out. He has discovered how to give the world real human emotion whilst the outside overlying world is pure fiction. Nolan’s stories give him the opportunity to explore the unknown. Nolan is one of the few directors in a long time to get the audience lost in a world that does not exist.

Nolan’s good dialogue and good action all form one big bubble of a solid story structure, and I would go as far as to say he is the greatest storyteller since Steven Spielberg. Spielberg is known for his stories, and how he has the ability to deliver them to a mass audience and Nolan is the only director who has maintained this ability since his first feature film. Now, the film world was paying attention since Following, but the average movie goer began to pay attention at Batman which led the movie going audience to notice his other films like Memento, Inception, and Insomnia. He continues to find gold mines in the stories he choses or is apart of, and it only continues to add a thunderous roar behind the name Christooher Nolan. He did however take a different storytelling approach than Spielberg which makes his success as a talented storyteller even more interesting. Nolan prefers more of the non-linear storytelling, especially in his grand pieces like Inception, Interstellar, and Memento. We see a few non-linear elements with some flashbacks in the Dark Knight series, but nothing to the level of the “Big Three”. Another interesting aspect to Nolan’s storytelling ability is that all of his stories have a similar theme that we see in none other than The Dark Knight.

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Most Nolan stories revolve around a character that is searching for closure in some sort of situation. Whether it’s his wife’s killer, or being able to let go of his dead wife, or save the planet and return to his daughter. His characters have some sort of overlying goal of redemption in some way shape or form and the story will either give that character the satisfaction, or make them realize that their actions are not benefitting them, that they in fact are becoming the sole thing that drove them to redemption, and if that isn’t masterful storytelling, I’m not sure what is. 

Christopher Nolan brings solid meaningful emotional dialogue to situations that could be filled with tons of action, but he withholds the action elsewhere. He doesn’t use unnecessary action, and to him action comes from how two people interact, what environment the characters are in, and the choices the characters make that will lead them to realizing their flaws. Christopher Nolan is a man of substance, but his substance comes from the golden flask, not the mason jar. 

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