Christopher Nolan- A Director Retrospective

So, my first ever retrospective is going to be on my childhood inspiration. Not only did Nolan impress me with his visual effects and CGI in films, but provided an understanding how Sci-Fi elements could be blended with aesthetics and feelings. Christopher Nolan may just be the most popular mainstream filmmaker, yet who is also acclaimed monumentally by critics, opened doors to technology and innovation in the cinema sphere too. Assisted and guided by his real brother, Jonathan Nolan (who majorly writes screenplays for films), the graceful charm of this filmmaker has left many aspiring cinephiles awestruck and in the mood for films.

In my personal experience, I still remember it was “Interstellar” which I first watched of this master filmmaker and kept running excited with its name and aura, as the film had me enticed from top to bottom. Interstellar also gave me certain hints how inexplicable things are in life surrounding us, and thus which have profound meanings deeply forbidden in a cryptic mystery. Days followed, this infatuation towards films took me on a Nolan spree and I had finished his famous five films within a week. To this day, I stand confident in meticulously explaining all his films as I have finished the entire filmography of his. Please join me in on this transcendental experience towards films as some of your favorites might just be listed below. In a chronology;

Following (1998)

An experiment turned into eventual success, Nolan first started off by delving into facets of voyeurism and explored mental famine, loss of purity and innocence with a fast paced, perplexing screenplay. Having the idea of shooting on the underdeveloped parts of London proved to be an exploratory research, and it certainly did help Nolan in cementing his image in the film industry. Of course, easy success doesn’t come at once unless you are Tarantino, Lynch or Orson Welles who are most celebrated ones of rewarding us with the best directorial debuts ever. As an enhance, Following did leave me uninterrupted and shellshocked with a scratching head, and which was probably enough for me to get hooked on to something.

Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan made its first mark into Hollywood with this Guy Pearce feature film, “Memento” is a psychological fast-paced, psychedelic thriller which is well built on a non-chronological storyline. There are several frames in this film which are almost unbearable to watch, but nor does it leave the spectator uninterested. The film is listed one amonst the Top 30 Best Films of 21st Century by BBC, and is meant for every cinephile in my opinion. Be it an arthouse film fan, a mainstream CGI film lover, or a beginner into films, “Mememto” offers unrelenting entertainment and thrill for almost every target audience. It’s time to re-explore this one I feel.

Insomnia (2002)

What else would you want to witness if Al Pacino and Robin Williams delight you with a duo on screen. “Insomnia” is captivating and engrossing from its first shot as it has brilliantly used a grim atmospheric setting set in the cold and mysterious altitudes of Alaska. It’s horrifying and certainly do leaves its spectators speechless, although it should be regarded as a little sister to Fincher’s “Se7en”. If an overstatement, don’t believe this hype but tune yourselves by watching this thriller now because the Hollywood has nearly stopped making such vengeance-driven thriller mysteries anymore.

Batman Begins (2005)

In my opinion, nobody could have pulled off a Batman Trilogy as successfully as Nolan did in the 21st century. With a fitting role provided to Christian Bale as Batman, the film looms mostly over its dark, cryptic undertone and differentiates itself well as compared with the DC comics. Nolan did provide the Batman lovers something innovative and crystal new with this manifestation, and so is the film’s brilliance with its unique script, magnificent acting, thus governed with a sound direction. What interests me the most is the runtime which fits too precise with the storytelling of this film.

The Prestige (2006)

With a growing affection with Christian Bale as one of his most picked actors, Nolan’s films finally identified an X-factor. “The Prestige” was an epitome of gargantuan success in the film industry as this opened more doors of innovation and cinephiles for the English filmmaker. The film is well written for the screen, has a star-studded cast, and mystifies the audience with its usage of VFX and visual effects. Personally for me, the film was deviating and quite loose from the plot at times, but it puzzles us whenever one tries to find loopholes. Thank you for the ending, Nolan!

The Dark Knight (2008)

The second installment to the Batman Trilogy was arguably the best creation of any film in a long time. Well, this is what the majority of audience says, thus considering the massive fanbase for this film. Fuelled by an exquisite portrayal of Joker’s sociopathic behavior by Heath Ledger, the film charms on several occasions. The growing intensity and chemistry between the protagonist and antagonist is the most scintillating part of this film, and keeps on getting better with each frame. Some of the scenes such as the bank heist, batman-joker interrogation scene, and the ending just helps the movie elevate to a God level.

Inception (2010)

My personal favorite from the Nolan filmography, “Inception” is one amongst my favorite films of 21st century too. Nolan conspires in towards a profound, relatable, but not much focused subject in practical lives, and talks about the quintessence of dreams. For me, “Inception” always charms with its VFX, original score and the concept encircling as the backdrop of film. With a star-studded cast featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception” takes us ahead of our time and shows us distant reality, thus trying to perplex us with multiple scenarios happening simultaneously. A film I can keep visiting anytime I want.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The last installment to Nolan’s trilogy was too heavily built on mass destruction and offered a fitting replacement to Joker, in the name of Bane. The last part experiences irregular turbulence in its storytelling and has carious scenes shot with carelessness, thus which invokes less attention from the crowd. Nevertheless, it offers an even better display of CGI and VFX in this one, yet it only lacks an inquisitive script. Talks apart, I do remember the film did leave me spellbound on its well executed fight scene and the satisfying ending to any trilogy.

Interstellar (2014)

“Interstellar” would always be remembered because of the time when it was released for the screen and is poignantly powerful on certain occasions. Nolan brilliantly executes his notion and modus operandi towards human aesthetics and connects them with a space exploration story with emotions attached this time. The film entices with its slow burning takes at times, thus it seems that Nolan must have immensely been inspired from “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The film corresponds on a father-daughter relationship and also speaks about inevitability of time and survival. The background score and the dialogues are a tear-jerker in this film.

Dunkirk (2017)

A technical masterpiece as suggested by the famous critics of the world, “Dunkirk” seems to be Nolan’s most complete film rich on technicalities, emotions, and the screenplay juxtaposes well with the filmmaking style portrayed in this one. Nolan is apparently developing himself more mature and profound on filmmaking with each film coming in, and this one is specifically meant to be watched in a 70mm. A visual delight, alongside the fikm is exquisitely well adapted considering the historical context and makes us feel we are actually glimpsing the harsh wartime of 1940s. With a rocksolid cinematography, the film goes further ahead and doesn’t leave a single opportunity in getting precious acclaim.

Ranking each Nolan’s film in terms of filmmaking technicality and personal choice;

1. Inception- 4.5/5

2. Dunkirk- 4/5

3. The Dark Knight- 4/5

4. Interstellar- 4/5

5. The Prestige- 4/5

6. Memento- 4/5

7. Insomnia- 3.5/5

8. Batman Begins- 3.5/5

9. The Dark Knight Rises- 3/5

10. Following- 3/5

Please do let me know what you guys think about the extraordinary works of this master filmmaker. Just can’t wait for Tenet anymore!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve seen only three of his films: Dunkirk, Interstellar, and Inception. I would rank Interstellar first, because it really moved me, followed by Inception and Dunkirk. He truly is a remarkable filmmaker.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manan Mehta says:

      I love his works, he is truly an example of role model for modern millennial cinephiles. You gotta check out “The Batman Trilogy”, “Mememto” and “The Prestige”. You’ll love all of em!

      Liked by 1 person

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