10 Reasons Why Christopher Nolan is a Great Director
Christopher Nolan is one of the finest filmmakers of our times. He is a British-American, who has over the years made some spectacular films. He started off as an independent filmmaker and made concept-driven films like ‘Following’ and ‘Memento’, which were both widely appreciated. In fact, ‘Memento’ went on to become a cult film. It was appreciated for its nonlinear structure and impressive story telling technique. Christopher Nolan has been redefining the form of cinema with his films. Here are a few reasons why Christopher Nolan is a great director:
1. His movies have interesting concepts
His films are concept-driven films. They have a larger theme and he makes formalistic decisions that support the concept he wants to communicate through his films. If ‘Memento’ was about short-term memory loss, then ‘Insomnia’ was about guilt and sleep deprivation. ‘The Prestige’ was one of his most spectacular works ever. In that film, he dealt with complex emotions and the story was told in one of the most interesting fashions. In ‘Dark Knight’, he redefined the greatest anti-hero of all times, Joker. He is currently working on a sci-fi project and the trailers look pretty promising.
2. His films are plotted in an interesting fashion
Nolan is a big fan of telling his stories in a non-linear fashion. Non-linearity is when a story is not told in a chronological order. He uses this way of plotting his stories because he feels that nonlinearity imitates our memory. When we recount incidents, we never recount them in a chronological order. He has dealt with the concept of depiction of time in interesting ways. In ‘Memento’, there were two timelines. One was being told in a reverse fashion, and the other in a linear fashion. What was even more interesting was how both these timelines were intercut with each other. One has to watch this film to believe how brilliant this style is, and how much it contributed to the theme of short-term memory loss. In ‘Inception’, he expanded time by going into a dream within a dream. It was not just a stylistic decision. It was theorized in the story as well. The film was based on the logic that when we dream, time passes faster than it actually passes in reality. Nolan is indeed a true genius!
3. He has mastered the form
Nolan has often been accused of giving more importance to form over content. Yes, Nolan is someone who has often used several stylistic devices to support his filmmaking, but all of them have always complemented his story. Never has a formalistic device been used in his films for the heck of it. He has played with nonlinear storytelling. He has expanded time in his films. He has intercut between different times and spaces. He has used black and white to his advantage. He has been a keen supporter of IMAX and has used it beautifully in his films. He has given us some of the most vivid visual extravaganzas. He has been a filmmaker who has mastered the form, truly!
4. He made Memento when he was 30 years old!
‘Memento’ is one of his best films ever, and it was also the first feature film he ever directed, if we leave aside ‘Following’, which he made when he was still in college. ‘Memento’ was shot over a span of 26 days, and is till date, his smartest film ever. The film deals with highly complex notions of proof, identity and memory. He shot major portions of the film in black and white. He used several stylistic devices in this particular film, and it is because of the brilliance he showcased with his filmmaking style that he went on to become the filmmaker he is today. There are several film schools all around the world that have included studies on this film as a part of their curriculum. This is one film, no matter how many times you watch it, you cannot get over it.
5. He prefers IMAX over 3D and celluloid over digital
So when Cameron directed ‘Avatar’, there was this madness around 3D films. Everyone wanted to try it. People were going gaga over the technology. They wanted to use it, no matter whether the story demanded it or not. When this madness was surrounding various filmmakers of Hollywood, Nolan was obsessing over IMAX. He was pretty firm about his preference. He has always believed that cinema is about creating magic in a two-dimensional medium. He feels that it is the most important challenge for a filmmaker to make audiences a part of this two-dimensional journey, and he wanted to stick with that. He has also been a keen supporter of celluloid over digital. He did not want to jump into any corporate agendas. He has also never been a complete purist. He is open to new technology but feels that he will only go for it when the story demands a certain kind of feel. This kind of clarity on what he wants out of his films is commendable.