From Small Beggings, to All Star Director
September 12, 2012 by Michael Harrison
Christopher Nolan has had a very impressive variety of excellent movies.
He has been writing, directing, and producing quality cinema for 14 years. His movies have changed the idea of conventional movie making, and given people joy, excitement, sorrow, and puzzlement. Christopher Jonathan James Nolan may have movies like Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy under his belt now, but his movies weren’t always so well known.
Nolan’s story began in London, England at the University College London. While attending UCL, Nolan studied English Literature, and shot 16 millimeter short films on the side. He had some minor film experience making short films with his father, but this is where he truly began his career. His first feature film was an indie movie called Following. At a budget of about $6,000, this black and white thriller had its theatrical release in 1998. Following garnered enough money and respect to fund Nolan’s next project.
Memento follows the story of Leonard Shelby, (Guy Pearce, Prometheus) a man determined to hunt down and kill the man who murdered his wife. However, he no longer has the ability to create new memories since the murder. Due to this detriment, Shelby must use notes, pictures, and even tattoos to make progress in his quest. Memento is a thrilling mystery, and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The plot of the film essentially progresses by moving backwards and forwards.
After the success of Memento, Nolan continued his trend of movie excellence with his remake of the 1997 film, Insomnia. Nolan’s version of the film shares most of its plot with the 1997 version, but the major differences lie with the actors, characters, and location. Both take place in locations with 24-hour daylight cycles, (Norway, and Alaska) and both involve sleep deprived foreign investigators attempting to solve a murder mystery. I have never seen the original, but Nolan’s installment is one of the most incredible crime dramas I’ve ever seen. It has a very moody tense atmosphere, and pits an L.A. detective named Will Dormer (Al Pacino, The Son of No One) against the possibly psychotic Walter Finch (Robin Williams, Happy Feet Two). I was absolutely shocked at some of the twists and turns taken in this movie, and I can guarantee anyone who watches Insomnia will be on the edge of their seat at some point or another.
After the box office smash hit Batman Begins, Nolan released The Prestige in 2006. The Prestige (which is loosely based on the historical fiction novel by Christopher Priest) is the story of two friends, turned rival magicians after a tragic accident. It’s the turn of the 19th century, and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman, Real Steel) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Rises) are in the midst of an escalating battle of magic tricks and sabotage. Both are try to outdo each other, with the end goal being to perform the best illusion. Magic eventually becomes science, with the mysterious Nikola Tesla (David Bowie, Inglourious Basterds) being introduced to the mix. The Prestige is a very chilling drama and an awesome movie to watch. As the two magicians duke it out, one often wonders who to root for, and who will win in the end.
Most people have seen (or at least have heard of) Nolan’s masterpieces being Inception, and The Dark Knight Trilogy, so I don’t feel they need to be addressed. As for every other movie mentioned, don’t hesitate to see them. Following, Memento, and Insomnia are all available on Netflix’s instant watch app, and The Prestige can be either rented or bought at a budget price. I loved the Batman movies, but all of these titles (including Inception) bring something far more curious to the table, and play some interesting tricks on the minds of the audience. Nolan is now producing the new Superman remake Man of Steel, releasing in 2013.
Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest directors of all time and is my personal favorite. Some of his movies are more complex than books, and contain enough subtleties to garner limitless enjoyment. Whenever I watch movies like Memento, Inception, and The Dark Knight, I still get new content out of them. Whatever Nolan chooses to do direct next, I’m sure that it will be another hit.