Dunkirk, the latest mind-bender from Christopher Nolan, is unique but also contains many of the signature characteristics of Nolan’s impressive filmography.
Watch our complete Nolan Filmography video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=089TG…
Transcript provided by Youtube:
[You can practically see it from here.]
You know you’re watching a
Christopher Nolan film if there’s a non-linear story. From the mind-bending
Memento, to the more subtly cryptic Interstellar, Nolan disorients his
audiences with puzzles that build suspense and reward multiple viewings.
[Wait whose subconscious are we going into exactly?]
Subjective point of view.
We’re immersed in the characters perspective through everything from the
camera as participant, to a subjective story structure.
We’re often given only as much information as the characters get
entering into their limited perspective of the world. And with this information
concealed from us we’re engaged and we’re made into detectives. The underlying
puzzle or mind teaser we’re piecing together demonstrates Nolan’s clear
interest in philosophy and deeper questions of the nature of human
existence. We get ambiguous endings; our questions intentionally unanswered.
The purposeful lack of clarity comes from Nolan’s desire to place us in his
character’s shoes, piecing together the truth with them.
At the same time Nolan
himself claims to know the answer to each of his open-ended plots.
He says that even if a film ends with ambiguity for the audience the creator must be
sure of his true interpretation to avoid contradiction or lack of substance.
Many characters have a split identity, divided or multiple selves, or some deep
psychological problem or identity conflict. There’s moral ambiguity.
[You either die a hero or you live long enough
to see yourself become the villain.]
The concept of a hero villain divided is complex and unclear.
Heroic characters with good intentions often turn into antagonists, and sometimes the
archetypal villain is given depth and made sympathetic. Nolan often gives us
a cruel world, and questions how morality is to be maintained or measured
in these muddy situations.
Light, darkness, and contrast convey
character growth, decay, and exploration.
In Batman Begins, light represents truth.
When Bruce Wayne uses a flashlight as he ventures
into the dark Batcave to face his fears.
We see conventions of film noir including a lonely protagonist
themes of betrayal and duplicity, and a moody dark dramatic atmosphere.
Nolan favors a realistic style, film over digital, and practical effects over CGI
The opening scene from The Dark Knight Rises where Bane and his crew hijack a
plane that’s then dropped from the sky, was a
practical effect shot in Scotland over the course of two days.
The procedures natural light and real locations prevent it from feeling too much like a distant
period piece, and Nolan achieved impressive effects like the spinning
hallway in Inception and the ship in Interstellar through building sets
rather than a green screen to give the movies a realistic feel.
We can read many
of his films as self-referential analogies for the creative process.
[You create the world of the dream we bring the subject into that dream and they
fill it with their subconscious.]
Common themes that show up include revenge
anger, guilt, sacrifice, solitude, memory and obsession. And he worked time and
again with cinematographer Wally Pfister, composer Hans Zimmer, writer Jonathan
Nolan (his brother), co-producer Emma Thomas (his wife), and a number of familiar
faces in front of the camera.
Taking all these things together we can gather that
Nolan’s worldview is always inquiring — looking deeper at the human condition
trusting in our deeper intuitions and subconscious, and challenging the
knowledge we take for granted.
[Did you mean to shoot Hap?]
[I don’t know anymore.]
Starting from a
simple seeming premise and traditional action-adventure cinema entertainment,
he draws us into asking larger daunting questions like, can we trust our own
minds? Is there an objective truth out there? And do we even want to accept that
truth if we have the chance?
[You keep telling yourself what you know,
but what do you believe? What do you feel?]
This post was previously published on Youtube.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from video