Christopher Nolan Study

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Sean Weitzel
Professor Howell
ENG 267
September 27, 2011
Writer/Director Study

Some filmmakers know exactly the right formula to create intriguing themes and subtle subliminal progression in their audience’s mind. Christopher Nolan just happens to be one of those filmmakers. His style is not merely traditional cinema; rather Nolan draws his viewers in by producing what feels like a renaissance of tried and true cinematic conventions. Described as ‘meta-noir’ by many film critics and showing the film world a glimpse into postmodernism, the stories are intellectually deep, and approach modern thoughts from a new angle. Nolan’s innovations in filmmaking, writing, and his overall signature as a auteur nominate him as one who stands out in the crowd in the realm of movie storytelling.

Chris’ first major debut (excluding short projects, and corporate training videos) Following was shot on in his spare time, Saturdays mostly. The idea was inspired by actual events; his home in London was broken into and it made him curious about the burglar must have thought of Nolan’s own life. From that idea comes the plot for Following (Buchanan). Nolan seems to be telling the audience that despite all of our modern privacy and data security, someone will always be able to gain access to your most intimate moments and things if they so desire.

The Following cast was comprised of Nolan’s friends and associates. Rigorous rehearsal was paramount, with the intention of only one or two takes at most required for a scene. Taking over a year to complete, Following was designed to be as low budget as possible. The only real expense was the 16mm roll that Nolan himself purchased (Lahiri). A mere six thousands dollars was the final cost, and filmed was premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1998. His attitude towards Following shows incredible drive and determination as a young filmmaker. Nolan was patient, had everything planned to a tee, and he saw the vision and direction in which he wanted the film to go from the very beginning. If we look back a few years, the same structure however was not applied to his career as a filmmaker.

Nolan was born in London in 1970. His mother was an American flight attendant and his father, an advertising copywriter (Quinn). It is said that he began his adventure in film experimenting with his father’s camera at the age of 7, aided only by his toy soldiers and creativeness (Buchanan). Nolan has no professional movie oriented education. He attended University College London and studied English Literature, and eventually majoring in literature. Although he studied english at UCL, he spent a generous amount of time experimenting and learning in their state of the art recording studio. He married his longtime girlfriend, Emma Thomas, who is coincidentally his longtime producer in 1997.

Nolan’s movies do in fact portray many themes and conventions from a postmodernistic angle, putting a slight angle on a traditional conventions. A most recent example can be seen in The Dark Knight. Of course we have antagonist, The Joker, who’s sole goal is to cause havoc in Gotham City and show them that their hero, Batman is not a perfect flawless soul as they had previously held true. Batman is for the most part a good guy, but his internal struggle between fear, personal life, and fighting the criminal underworld consumes him. Enter Harvey Dent, District Attorney of Gotham whom the Joker sees as a perfect target to break down a virtuous person, reforge a villain, and let him do whatever he must for vengeance. Nolan is clearly painting a picture that everyone, even our heroes have experienced psychological trauma and have ‘skeletons in their closet’ so to speak. A little morbid, but this is interesting in light of the events that followed production of (and may have been present during) the film, specifically Heath Ledger’s death which was attributed to an overdose/ abuse of pharmaceuticals.

In TDK, the city and...
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