ByAdrian Ortiz, writer at
I'm a Screenwriting major at California State University Northridge and an avid purveyor and critique of films old and new
Adrian Ortiz

The world of cinema continues to evolve and extend its reach to the masses, as well as its sophistication among story telling and creativity. Among many brilliant and noble directors stands a bold and present story teller who draws from various metaphysical and illusional themes to create some of the greatest films ever shown on the silver screen. Christopher Nolan got his first feature length film in 1998 and for 17 years has managed to become a household name among beginner and advanced filmmakers. No doubt his rise to fame took off after his brilliant revitalization of Batman with Batman Begins (2005, The Dark Knight (2008), and the Dark Knight Rises (2012), however he has still brought on some of the most conceptually creative and genuine pieces of film to date.

Nolan keeps constant themes among his characters throughout all his films and uses a unique story telling device to portray illusional or sometimes psychological themes to the audience. In his 1998 film, The Following, Nolan employs a classic story telling device called a non-linear plot. This means, he chose to tell the story out of order and have all the pieces of the story coincide with one another throughout the film, only to meld into one cohesive plot at the end. He again uses this device in his other brilliant films such as Memento (2002), The Prestige (2006), and Inception (2010). This device is most notably used in Memento, a story about a man with anterograde amnesia who constantly tries to recreate pieces of his life together to find out who killed his wife, where Nolan decides to create two sequences of scenes within the film. One sequence is shot in black and white and plays chronologically, while another sequences is shot in color and plays in reverse, thus immersing the audience into the mind of the main character himself and knows just about as much as he does at any given moment.

Another theme Nolan keeps consistent within his films is a character faced with inner moral dilemmas, as well as deciding what is ultimately right and wrong. This can even go beyond such tangible feelings within the character to how their decisions can ultimately effect the outcome of their own lives in terms of time and space. A simplistic example of this concept is found within Nolan's adaptation of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, Insomnia (2002). The main character is at odds with his partner at the beginning of the film as they travel to Alaska in search of a serial killer who seems to have outsmarted all the detectives in town. Within the first act of the film, the main character is faced in a showdown with the serial killer himself in a heavily fogged environment with little to no visibility. In his hesitation, the main character ultimately shoots and kills his partner and begins to lose more and more sleep throughout the film, thus losing a sense of morality and judgement as his exhaustion takes over. The complexity of Nolan's characters and their inner conflicts begins to fully take shape in his critically acclaimed adaption of Batman with his "Dark Knight Trilogy". The character of Batman/Bruce Wayne itself is truly a story tellers dream when you're faced with a character that lost both his parents as a child and grew up almost artificially behind the persona of Bruce Wayne, but in reality became the brutal and heroic figure of the Batman. Nolan made this a constant theme in all three of his Batman films as Batman faces his inner conflict with himself in Batman Begins, a seemingly conjoined conflict of right and wrong with his arch nemesis, The Joker, in The Dark Knight, and somewhat again with his own inner demons as he begins to truly grow out his inner mold in The Dark Knight Rises. In short, Nolan is no stranger to the complexity and inner workings of creating a truly unique main character within a story.

Christopher Nolan has become much more than the "man who saved Batman" and continues to reach new heights in film making and story telling. His most recent film, Interstellar (2014), garnered much acclaim for its technological feats as well as setting a new bar for science fiction and space age story telling. No one knows what is next for the brilliant film maker, but rest assured that there are nothing but great things to come from Christopher Nolan.


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