Mar 20

Director Review: Christopher Nolan By Martin Chittenden – DCN Movies Film Expert

Director Review: Christopher Nolan

By Martin Chittenden


Being a hardcore movie buff and guru, I felt it appropriate to write reviews of directors good and bad, so hopefully you the viewer, from casual to addicted can maybe understand how these directors work and tell the stories the way they do.

I’m starting off with the man who helped me re-discover my passion and love for movies. Christopher Nolan. So I’ll tell you the backstory.  I love Batman.  I always have and when Joel Schumacher took what Tim Burton did and made it completely stupid with the last two Batman Movies; Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I gave up hope.  So when Batman Begins came out I didn’t watch it.  I did watch Insomnia, which Nolan directed.  I was more interested about Al Pacino and Robin Williams, but as I watched it, the flow and camera setup amazed me.  It wasn’t just a cat-and-mouse thriller that I’ve seen many times, it was dark and visceral and just beautiful.

So when I went to Wal-Mart one day, I saw Batman Begins in the $5 bin.  After much coaxing from my wife at the time I figured, what the hell. I was blown away to put it mildly.  Funny story, My DVD player broke right in the middle of the movie, so I had to tear apart the garage to find the other one.  Christopher Nolan brought back my love of Batman and movies in general.

So being the incredible nerd that I am, I looked up Christopher Nolan and researched him.  He hadn’t done much but what he had done up to the point of Batman Begins, I watched.  I had seen Memento before late at night and very tired with little sound.  So I re-watched with sound and full alertness.  I was hooked.  Nolan has a distinct style of storytelling that I have seen with only one other director, Stanley Kubrick.  Nolan himself stated that Stanley was a major influence on him as well as David Lean, who did Lawrence of Arabia and other famous directors.

Nolan hardly does anything he hasn’t written himself.  Insomnia was one of the films he did that he didn’t write originally.   After Batman Begins came The Prestige, a film about feuding magicians in the 1800’s.  It was an intense film that did not fit into a usual genre; it was just done so well that it is its own entity. The Prestige almost didn’t get made.  The story goes that Nolan wanted to have Nikolai Tesla as a part of the story, and he had one man in mind only to play Tesla, David Bowie.  If David Bowie was unable to play the part Nolan would scrap the whole film.

When The Dark Knight was announced I got all excited because Nolan was doing it but when Heath Ledger was announced to play The Joker, my reaction was “That pretty boy?” Until I saw the first photo of Ledger as The Joker

This really got my fanboy juices going.  When I got the Blu-Ray of Batman Begins, They had the opening scene of The Dark Knight and I went nuts, I would watch the opening scene like 3 times a day until the actual movie came out.

Needless to say, I have found most of Nolan’s films to be excellent and I could go on for days about every detail of all his films, but that would probably bore you.


Here is why Christopher Nolan should be one of the top 5 directors of all time.  Nolan brings complicated subjects and ideas and boils it down to one simple theme for his stories.  Take Inception, all of that to plant a small idea into the sub-sub-subconscious of 1 man.  Batman Begins is fear, The Dark Knight is chaos, and The Dark Knight Rises is pain.

Nolan also is against using CGI or Digital filming.  He goes for the regular film and practical effects more than CGI, he wants his actors to have something to react to.  Inception used CGI but, not as a replacement of people or places but as an enhancement.  The scene at the coffee shop where Leo and Ellen where everything explodes around them, they used air cannons and real stuff to fly around them, then the CGI was enhancing the explosions to make it even more dream-like.  The train going down the street was a chassis over a big rig truck and if you notice the bottom of the train the road being torn up, that was CGI.

Nolan also takes queues from Stanley Kubrick.  When Stanley did The Shinning, people complained that the film skewed heavily from the book, Stanley said “If they want to see the movie of the book, read the book.”  Stanley took the idea from the book and made it his own.  Nolan does that as well.  With Batman, he took something he loved and made it his own.  I have seen complaints that he “ruined” the Batman and Joker characters.  I say this, and most Psychiatrist and Philosophers agree, OPEN YOUR MIND!!!  If you want to see your characters as you think they should be such as Batman and the Joker, read the comics.  Christopher Nolan made it his own.  That is what makes a good storyteller; they take an idea and make it their own.  Nolan does that with all of his films.  He wrote Man of Steel, it was dark and gritty, and Superman had a temper.  He made it a possible universe where Superman, who was raised by humans, actually had human emotions, makes sense now?  Nolan’s films have been major blockbusters and in my opinion not the usual cliché movie tropes that are churned out by Hollywood.  Nolan makes us think, he makes us feel, he brings depth and emotion to one dimensional characters, so a comic book movie becomes a deep and gritty story where the hero has flaws but is human.

Martin Chittenden; Massive movie buff and guru

Questions? Concerns? Parking Validation? Random Insults?

Email me at: martinc@movies.discovercountynetwork.com