Is there a finer filmmaker working today than Christopher Nolan? From humble roots and some indie smash hits, the British director has conquered the world. His star has risen to the point his name carries with it the same expectations of Hitchcock or Kubrick. You may think that a bold claim, but has there ever been a director so consistent in quality yet so unique in approach? No one would ever say that the two aforementioned greats never did a bad film, but I submit to you that Nolan has yet to.
Born in England and raised partially in the US, he is a director who can craft films that will entertain the masses while also providing layers of meaning for those who desire to discover it. Every one of his movies benefits from repeat viewings, presenting something intelligent and, in reference to his recent work, beyond the standard blockbuster. Thanks to his massive appeal, he has, over the past half decade, become one of the most influential current filmmakers; as will be discussed, the recent spate of super serious blockbusters stems from the success of his gritty re-imagining of Batman.
There has been a recent (albeit small) backlash against Nolan, but that is the case with many artists who has grown from personal affection to the public’s favourite. Unlike many, however, he’s kept his integrity as his star has risen to astronomical levels. This is shown best through the fact that, throughout his career Memento onwards, he has kept the same Director of Photography, Wally Pfister, who has imbued all his films with sumptuous and memorable visuals.
So, in honour of this consistently brilliant filmmaker and to kick-start what I hope to be an ongoing retrospective series on directors careers, here’s a rundown of Nolan’s work, from his weakest through to the very best.
Spoilers obviously abound, so read with caution.
Honourable Mention: Doodlebug
Nolan’s 1997 short film clocks in at a mere three minutes, so to include it proper in the list would be ludicrous. However, it is too brilliant to not to give a mention. It follows a man alone in a flat, hunting down his elusive tormentor; the titular doodlebug. To say anymore of the plot would be unnecessary; check it out in the video below.
A Twilight Zone-esque short produced while Nolan was still studying at UCL, Doodlebug shows the spark that would later lead to great things. It conveys the festered nature of the flat and its owner well, along with music and sweeping camera shots that help instill a sense of unease. But the best moment has to be the look of satisfaction on the man’s face after he completes his task; he’s been so determined to wipe out the Doodlebug that he’s been oblivious to the world around him.
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