By: Nazia Adnin
An auteur is a director who develops his/her signature style of making films through distinctive cinematic language and visual story telling technique. Christopher Nolan has created a personal stamp through his works over the years which have defined him an auteur of 21st century.
Christopher Nolan was born in London to Brendan James Nolan and Christina. His childhood was split between London and Illinois. From a very young age Nolan knew he wanted to be a film maker. His father’s Super 8 camera his got magic touches when he was only 7 years old. Little Nolan was inspired by “Star Wars”, and around the age of 8 he had made a stop motion animation homage called “Space Wars”. His younger brother Jonathan Nolan has been one of his lifelong collaborators from the formative years. When Nolan family relocated to Chicago, he engaged himself into film making with Adrien and Roko Belic and continued to work on different projects in early 1990s. Nolan studied in English Literature at UCL where he demonstrated his love and passion for films and made two short films during college days. He met his future wife at UCL when he was 19.
After college graduation Nolan worked in the film industry in various roles. In 1997 he made is third short called “Doodlebug “. Nolan directed his first feature film “Following” in 1998 for which he received critical acclimations and the film won several awards at different film festivals. Subsequently, he was offered to direct his break through film “Memento” (2000), which is based on a short story written by Jonathan Nolan. Through this film Nolan broke all the traditional rules of visual storytelling and established himself as a promising auteur. “Memento” was a huge box office success and won two Oscar nominations. Nolan’s next film was psychological thriller “Insomnia” (2002), starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank. It was remake of Norwegian movie of the same name. Nolan’s direction added new perspectives and ideas into the film to answer questions on morality and guilt. In 2005 Nolan directed “Batman Begins”, first installment of his Batman trilogy. Nolan’s batman was dark, realistic and tells its origin story. Christian Bale played the lead role as Bruce Wayne aka Batman. Following both box office and critical success of Batman Begins, Nolan made two more Batman movies including “The Dark Knight (2008) and “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012). He continued experiencing box office success with sci-fi action “Inception” (2012). Nolan’s other notable works are “The Prestige” (2006), “Interstellar (2014) and Dunkirk (2017).
Since Nolan is regarded as auteur therefore, his films follow a distinguishing pattern and style. His story telling technique is very non-linear or des-linear. Most of his films are set against the backdrop of urban settings in modern locations and architecture. Nolan frames the dialogues scenes in wide close ups with shallow depth of field. Neo-noir or noir vibe is always present in most of his works. Documentary style lighting and gloomy ambiance are featured in his movies. He also pays close attention to sound design in order to make climax more realistic. Flashbacks, crosscutting of several scenes of parallel actions, flash forward these motifs are frequently used in Nolan’s films to demonstrate his auteur-ship.
Seasoned director has noted Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Terrence Mallick, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Nicolas Roeg, Sidney Lumet, David Lean, Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam and John Frankenheimer as influential figures on his works. He also finds inspiration in art and literature.
From the beginning of his career Nolan has created a complete new visual language of film making which is why he is considered as an auteur of 21st century. He truly is an auteur and a legendary director of our time.