Anatomy Of A Director: Christopher Nolan
In Anatomy Of A Director, we dig deep down into the back catalogue of a top director and chart their rise, from their raw beginnings, their big break, their finest hour and the bump in the road, ending up with their current project. As Interstellar comes to Blu-Ray and DVD, we go through the career of Christopher Nolan, from his meagre beginnings on Following to conquering superheroes with Batman and going intergalactic with Interstellar…
Raw Beginnings: Following
Nolan’s debut film could not be more low budget and DIY. Shot for just over £4,000 back in the mid-1990s, Following is a seriously creepy look at the dark underworld of London. It follows a man, simply known as The Young Man, who has decided that the best way to get inspiration for his novel is to find interesting looking people and follow them around London. Trouble is, when he decides to follow and subsequently befriend a man named Cobb, he bites off much, much more than he could ever chew.
Never widely screened, but very widely acclaimed, Nolan’s first feature caught the attention of many Hollywood types, which set him up nicely for his first big feature…
Big Break: Memento
Nolan’s first foray into Hollywood saw him team up with LA Confidential star Guy Pearce to create the warped and captivating thriller Memento. It tells the story of Leonard, who has lost all his short-term memory, but, tragically, the last memory he does have is one of his wife being raped and murdered. Determined to find his wife's killer and exact revenge, Leonard keeps track of facts and discoveries about the case by having them tattooed on his body. Knowing only that the killer is somebody called John G., Leonard searches for him, but quickly realises that he might be being taken for a fool.
Dark-hearted, deeply engrossing and packed with so many twists and turns, this was the movie that convinced Hollywood’s deep-pocketed executives that Nolan could be trusted with one of the biggest franchises in move history…
Their Finest Hour: The Dark Knight
When Nolan was given the keys to the Batman franchise, most thought he’d turn in a decent blockbuster, some thought he’d breathe new life into it, but no one thought that he would completely reinvent the modern blockbuster and write the blueprint for the next 20 years of superhero movies.
Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a brooding mixture of powerful drama, incredible stunts and very clever plot twists. Bale’s Batman is a troubled man, a reluctant hero drawn into the world of late-night vigilantism. The high point of the trilogy is The Dark Knight Rises, a menacing second instalment, lit up by an absolute tour de force performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker. Villains, superheroes, comic book adaptations and blockbusters have never been the same since.
Bump In The Road: The Prestige
This isn’t even a real bump, it’s a move from five stars down to four and a half. Released in 2006, this dark thriller saw Nolan looking at the world of stage magic and the larger than life characters who become magicians.
The Prestige stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as former friends, who are now both successful magicians and bitter rivals. Over the years they’ve engaged each other in a constant battle of one-up-man-ship, but now Bale’s Alfred Borden has found a trick that Jackman’s Robert Angier cannot better, something that will drive him to distraction.
It’s dark, sinister and incredibly well scripted, it simply sits in this category because it did well at the box office rather than superbly.
Still On Top: Interstellar
Just how do you follow creating one of the biggest trilogies in Hollywood history? Simple, you ask the only question that’s even bigger, just how will humanity survive in the long run?
In Interstellar we find ourselves in the near future, earth is devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. Humanity looks doomed, but there’s one chance to save us all, a tear in the space-time continuum is discovered, which means that mankind can potentially widen its lifespan.
To find a new planet that can house humanity, a group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. Matthew McCoughaney and Anne Hathaway star as the leaders of Endurance, a space craft which must travel farther than any explorers have gone before.
It’s widescreen, shot in stunning detail and takes the audience on a wild thrill ride into the complete and utter unknown, something Nolan has spent his entire career doing. Here’s to many more films like it.
Interstellar is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday (March 30th). It is available to pre-order in store now.