Director Showcase – Christopher Nolan
To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises Tom and Mike take a look at Christopher Nolan’s incredible career so far.
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past six months you will be well aware that The Dark Knight Rises hits UK cinemas today; I bet most of you have your tickets booked in advance and a few lucky folks like us at FRC may have already experienced Nolan’s exceptional end to The Dark Knight trilogy. It is the perfect time to look at how Christopher Nolan made the transition from a respected indie auteur to what can only be described as a Hollywood God and this week’s showcase takes in his entire filmography from Following to The Dark Knight Rises.
It is hard to believe the man behind such a phenomenal career only recently turned 40 (two years ago to be exact) but it is reassuring that he clearly has a great future ahead and will hopefully continue his work behind the camera for many years to come. His passion for storytelling knows no bounds and is perfectly suited to the lower budget films of his early years but has successfully been incorporated in his more recent blockbusters to compliment the epic scale of his vision.
Being Nolan’s debut film, it’s clearly small-scale with budgetary constraints, but showcases glimpses of the trademark Nolan narrative structure and devices he goes on to use throughout his filmography (notably Memento). He produces a satisfying, indie thriller that strongly hints towards the success he’ll go on to have.
An incredible masterpiece that demands repeat viewings, Memento is a truly mindblowing film that showcases the precision of a director at the top of his game. Guy Pearce puts in the performance of a lifetime as a man suffering from memory loss who tattoos his body to prevent himself from forgetting the clues he discovers whilst tracking down the man who murdered his wife. This harrowing and twisting thriller proves that Nolan knew how to mess with the minds of an attentive audience before he had even dreamed of making Inception.
Perhaps one of his more conventional stories narratively speaking, Insomnia sets up a superb confrontation between Pacino and Williams throughout. It’s more grounded than some of his other work, but also offers that intriguing Nolan style with varying twists, turns and reveals along the way.
With Christopher Nolan’s films often involving trickery and illusions it makes perfect sense that he chose to write a screenplay about the rivalry of two magicians seeking the ultimate illusion. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are exceptional as the feuding performers determined to upstage each other until their rivalry excerbates into a deadly battle of wits. Captivating and unpredictable throughout, The Prestige is a stunning film that never fails to amaze.
The perfect combination of blistering action sequences and thought-provoking storytelling, Inception is a mindblowing blockbuster that pushed the boundaries of special effects and proved that audiences everywhere were willing to take a gamble on an original idea. Leonardo DiCaprio is outstanding as Cobb, a skillful thief who uses technology capable of entering the human subconscious to become part of people’s dreams in order to extract their secrets. Backed by a team of talented individuals he undertakes his biggest mission yet despite the dangers involved as they delve deeper and deeper into the mind in an attempt to pull off their most incredible stunt yet; Inception.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Now that the trilogy has been completed I can finally describe Nolan’s masterpieces as the finest superhero trilogy ever made and I am almost certain that it will stand the test of time and entertain viewers for generations to come. Batman Begins was an ambitious exploration of Bruce Wayne’s formative years that caused an influx in the popularity of superhero origin films and introduced the world to a Dark Knight that genuinely deserved such a title. Nolan’s take on Batman removed the camp and embellished the gothic gloom that enveloped the crime-laden city of Gotham to deliver a realistic tale of the caped crusader.
The Dark Knight upped the ante with Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as the Joker pushing Christian Bale’s Batman to his limits and causing one hell of a headache for Gotham’s police force. It is deeply upsetting that Ledger passed away shortly after filming was complete but his legacy will live on thanks to his superb portrayal of a madman that some controversially cited as a cause of Ledger’s death as the role began to consume his personality.
Scott’s fantastic review of The Dark Knight Rises sums up how impressive the trilogy finale is and can be read here. I am genuinely torn between choosing my favourite of the three, with each of the films standing on their own as accomplished pictures capable of pleasing Batman fanboys and newcomers alike. I experienced a strange form of elation after viewing The Dark Knight Rises; the trilogy is now complete, and by god it’s amazing, but this unfortunately is where it ends for Bale and Nolan.
Could Christopher Nolan be this generation of filmmaker’s Stanley Kubrick? Each of his films are impeccably made and are all equally deserving of your attention. I will be very surprised if Nolan ever makes a film with little or no redeeming qualities and so far in his career none of his films are to be avoided. Bring on his next film!
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Which of Christopher Nolan’s films is your personal favourite and why? Do you think his consistency for great film-making will continue throughout his career? Share your thoughts with us below.