Christopher Nolan Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (39)  | Trivia (53)  | Personal Quotes (65)  | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Born in London, England, UK
Birth NameChristopher Edward Nolan
Nickname Chris
Height 5' 11¼" (1.81 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear, storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970, in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.

At 7 years old, Nolan began making short movies with his father's Super-8 camera. While studying English Literature at University College London, he shot 16-millimeter films at U.C.L.'s film society, where he learned the guerrilla techniques he would later use to make his first feature, Following (1998), on a budget of around $6,000. The noir thriller was recognized at a number of international film festivals prior to its theatrical release and gained Nolan enough credibility that he was able to gather substantial financing for his next film.

Nolan's second film was Memento (2000), which he directed from his own screenplay based on a short story by his brother Jonathan. Starring Guy Pearce, the film brought Nolan numerous honors, including Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay. Nolan went on to direct the critically acclaimed psychological thriller, Insomnia (2002), starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.

The turning point in Nolan's career occurred when he was awarded the chance to revive the Batman franchise in 2005. In Batman Begins (2005), Nolan brought a level of gravitas back to the iconic hero, and his gritty, modern interpretation was greeted with praise from fans and critics alike. Before moving on to a Batman sequel, Nolan directed, co-wrote, and produced the mystery thriller The Prestige (2006), starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as magicians whose obsessive rivalry leads to tragedy and murder.

In 2008, Nolan directed, co-wrote, and produced The Dark Knight (2008) which went on to gross more than a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Nolan was nominated for a Directors Guild of America (D.G.A.) Award, Writers Guild of America (W.G.A.) Award and Producers Guild of America (P.G.A.) Award, and the film also received eight Academy Award nominations.

In 2010, Nolan captivated audiences with the sci-fi thriller Inception (2010), which he directed and produced from his own original screenplay. The thought-provoking drama was a worldwide blockbuster, earning more than $800,000,000 and becoming one of the most discussed and debated films of the year. Among its many honors, Inception received four Academy Awards and eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Nolan was recognized by his peers with D.G.A. and P.G.A. Award nominations, as well as a W.G.A. Award for his work on the film.

One of the best-reviewed and highest-grossing movies of 2012, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) concluded Nolan's Batman trilogy. Due to his success rebooting the Batman character, Warner Bros. enlisted Nolan to produce their revamped Superman movie Man of Steel (2013), which opened in the summer of 2013. In 2014, Nolan directed, wrote, and produced the science-fiction epic Interstellar (2014), starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain. Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. released the film on November 5, 2014, to positive reviews and strong box-office results, grossing over $670 million dollars worldwide.

Nolan resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife, producer Emma Thomas, and their children. Nolan and Thomas also have their own production company, Syncopy.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: thenolanfan

Family (4)

Spouse Emma Thomas (1997 - present)  (4 children)
Children Nolan, Flora
Rory Nolan
Nolan, Oliver
Magnus Nolan
Parents Nolan, Brendan
Nolan, Christina
Relatives Jonathan Nolan (sibling)
John Nolan (aunt or uncle)
Kim Hartman (aunt or uncle)

Trade Mark (39)

Begins his movies and introduces his main characters with a close up of their hands performing an action.
Opening scenes are usually a flashback or a piece of a scene from the middle or ending of the movie.
Films conclude with the two central characters discussing the results which have stemmed from the events of the film.
Non-linear timelines (Following (1998), Batman Begins (2005) and The Prestige (2006))
Crosscutting several scenes of parallel action to build to a climax (The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014)).
His endings have a recurring theme of justified dishonesty. (Examples: Guy Pearce's "Do I lie to myself to be happy" monologue in Memento (2000), Michael Caine's closing remark that the audience "wants to be fooled" from The Prestige (2006) and Christian Bale's rationale of how the citizens of Gotham City "deserve to have their faith rewarded" in the ending of The Dark Knight (2008)).
His films usually revolve around characters that are afflicted with some kind of psychological disorder. (Examples: Guy Pearce's short-term memory "condition" in Memento (2000), Al Pacino's titular sleeping disorder in Insomnia (2002), Christian Bale's phobia of bats in Batman Begins (2005) and Aaron Eckhart's dual personality in The Dark Knight (2008) and Leonardo DiCaprio not being able to grasp onto reality in Inception (2010)).
The storyline in his films usually involves a determined character seeking vengeance over the death of a loved one. (Examples: Guy Pearce in Memento (2000), Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005), Hugh Jackman in The Prestige (2006), Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight (2008), and Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)).
Often casts actors against type
Frequently uses hard cuts when transitioning to the next scenes. This is most prominent in his films from Batman Begins (2005) onward, especially in The Dark Knight (2008), where, in some instances, the hard cuts he uses will go so far as to nearly cut off character's lines in order to quickly and efficiently get to the next scene.
All of his films contain a major referential connection to his prior film (e.g. the Joker performs a deadly magic trick in The Dark Knight (2008); Nolan's previous film, The Prestige (2006), was about magicians performing magic tricks that turn deadly).
His protagonists will often resort to tactics of physical or psychological torture to gain information (e.g. (SPOILERS) in Batman Begins (2005), Batman uses the hallucinagenic fear compound on Jonathan Crane in order to gain information about his "boss"; in The Prestige (2006), Angier buries Borden's assistant alive in order to get Borden to talk; in The Dark Knight (2008), Batman throws Salvatore Maroni off a building, breaking his legs, in order to gain information about the Joker; in the same movie, Harvey Dent puts a gun to one of the Joker's henchman and flips a coin for his life every second he doesn't talk to scare him into talking. Also in this movie, Batman uses physical intimidation for the interrogation of the Joker; in Insomnia (2002), Dormer drives into oncoming traffic in order to scare the victim's best friend into talking; in Inception (2010), Cobb demands that Saito discloses information to him on gunpoint; in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman physically threatens Bane to accquire the location of the trigger).
His characters often gain a physical or psychological handicap in the course of the film (SPOILERS: in The Prestige (2006), Angier gets a crippled leg while Borden loses two fingers; in The Dark Knight (2008), Salvatore Maroni gets a crippled leg; in Insomnia (2002), Dormer gets insomnia; in Memento (2000), Leonard gains a memory handicap, the event of which is shown in flashback during the film)
His films often have obsessive protagonists with a troubled past, who are obsessed to gain justice by any means in life (e.g. Leonard in Memento (2000), Al Pacino's character in Insomnia (2002), Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins (2005). Also the protagonist of Following (1998) and Hugh Jackman in The Prestige (2006) were obsessive)
Lonely troubled protagonists who are unwillingly forced to hide their true identity from the world.
Typically ends his films with a character giving a philosophical monologue
Frequently in his films, at some crucial moment, the protagonists feel let down or betrayed by their mentors whom they have been following blindly and with respect. (e.g. The protagonist being cheated by Cobb in Following (1998), Leonard "discovering" that Teddy is the culprit in Memento (2000), Hilary Swank's character respecting Al Pacino as a great detective in Insomnia (2002) only to find out that he is also flawed, Bruce Wayne and Liam Neeson's character's confrontation in Batman Begins (2005), Cutter not supporting Angier in The Prestige (2006), Ariadne feeling betrayed by her mentor Cobb when he does not tell her about Mal's domain over his dreams in Inception (2010), Blake feeling let down by Gordon when his lie about Dent's death is exposed in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Murph finding out the truth about Professor Brand's work in Interstellar (2014).
His films' protagonists have mostly lost their loved ones and/or failed in love, a circumstance that causes them turn into malevolent and/or apathetic forever. (e.g. Leonard in Memento (2000) has lost his wife in a brutal murder in the past, Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins (2005) has lost Rachel Dawes' faith in him throughout the film, Borden in The Prestige (2006) does not get his wife's love because of his character's 'act' in the movie and Angier loses his beloved in a mishap during a magic trick, Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (2008) loses Rachel as well as Bruce Wayne is not able to win her love back)
Often casts non-American actors in American roles. (e.g. Guy Pearce, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson)
Uses camera revolving around a character. (The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2005), Memento (2002) and Inception (2010))
Displays the title before the ending credits (Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012))
The original scores of his films usually play over most of the film, or one piece of music will play over many small scenes, as if they are edited in a montage; there are few moments in his films when there is no music playing in the background.
Characters who are unreliable narrators (e.g. Borden, through his journal, in The Prestige (2006), the Joker through his conflicting monologues in The Dark Knight (2008), and Leonard through his memory problem and 'conditioning' from Memento (2000), Dom with his mind in Inception (2010)
Very frequently his films contain blackmail, attempted blackmail or a reference to blackmail.
His films almost always end with the character's fate open to interpretation
Enormous visual scope and heavy emphasis on location and architecture
Villains in his films often threaten to harm the hero's friends or family
His antagonists are often motivated by a philosophical belief rather than money
Often works with editor Lee Smith, composer Hans Zimmer, cinematographer Wally Pfister, production designer Nathan Crowley and wife-producer Emma Thomas.
Frequently uses symmetric image composition, possibly inspired by Stanley Kubrick.
Many of his films contain a scene where the dynamic of a conversation changes when one of the characters reveals that he owns the establishment or event the characters are currently attending/talking about (e.g. a restaurant in The Dark Knight (2008), a charity ball in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), an airline in Inception (2010), or is closely linked with the person who does (a bar in Following (1998)). This strangely specific trademark reaches its furthest extreme in Batman Begins (2005) when, at the end of a scene, Bruce Wayne actually buys the place he is in (a restaurant) to change the dynamic between him and an angry waiter.
His films almost always end with a sudden (and very effective) smash cut to black. (Memento (2002), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), and especially Inception (2010) are prime examples.)
Protagonists have a desire to return to their children (Cobb in Inception (2010) and Cooper in Interstellar (2014))
Use of characters with mysterious backgrounds
Characters who begin as allies before revealing their true sinister nature
His films are famous for using practical effects as often as possible
His film frequently explore the concept of time, appearing in soundtrack, theme, story and plot.
Frequently casts his cousin Miranda Nolan in bit parts.

Trivia (53)

Gained major funding during the 1999 Hong Kong Film Festival by showing his film Following (1998) and then asking the audience to donate money to his next film Memento (2000).
Older brother of Jonathan Nolan.
Nephew of John Nolan and Kim Hartman.
Received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from University College London.
Is a huge fan of James Bond, and said to David S. Goyer, that his favorite James Bond movie is On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
His top ten favorite movies are: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Black Hole (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Chinatown (1974), The Hitcher (1986), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)), Star Wars (1977), The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Topkapi (1964), as well as anything by Stanley Kubrick.
Does not like computer graphics in movies and purposely avoided them when he made Batman Begins (2005).
Following Insomnia (2002), his next project was going to be a Howard Hughes biopic starring Jim Carrey. Nolan had the screenplay written (calling it "one of the best things I've ever written"), but once it became apparent Martin Scorsese was making his own Hughes biopic, The Aviator (2004), Nolan reluctantly tabled his script and took up directing Batman Begins (2005).
While Nolan grew up in London, England, he did visit Evanston, Illinois, Chicago at least four to five times during his early childhood and teenage years but his enrollment in Hertfordshire's Haileybury and Imperial Service College meant his travels would not be as frequent as his brother. It wasn't until his University College London (UCL) years when he started making his professed visits to the US.
Nolan has both British and American Citizenship. His mandatory US Citizenship (not Nationality) was legitimized in 2002.
Is a huge fan of the rock band Radiohead.
Resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife Emma Thomas and their four children.
As of 2018, 7 out of 10 films directed by Nolan are on the IMDB's top 250: The Dark Knight (2008), Batman Begins (2005), Memento (2000), The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Interstellar (2014). The three films missing are Insomnia (2002), Following (1998) and Dunkirk (2017).
Was doing camera and sound work on training videos before making his film debut.
His film, Interstellar (2014), is the sixth consecutive movie of his to have a role played by Michael Caine.
Considers Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott as his primary influences.
Adapted Ruth Rendell's novel, "The Keys to the Street", into a screenplay that he was set to direct for Fox Searchlight after Insomnia (2002). However, he instead went on to direct Batman Begins (2005). "Keys to the Street" remains unproduced.
First cousin of Miranda Nolan, whom he gave minor roles in Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Miranda's brother Tom had a minor role in Batman Begins (2005).
Is the first director to do three live-action film adaptations of the DC Comics character Batman.
He and Spider-Man (2002) director Sam Raimi are the only directors to do three live-action comic book adaptations of the same character.
Prefers shooting on film stock over digital, and has been outspoken against the threat by studios to phase out the use of film as a choice over digital.
Refuses to use Digital Intermediates for his films, instead opting to use the photochemical timing process.
Is one of the few people (also including his comic-book consultant and co-writer David S. Goyer) to work on films about DC Comics' two most famous characters and two of the most iconic heroes in Comics, "Batman" and "Superman".
Honored with a hand-print and foot-print ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California on July 7, 2012.
Father of Flora Nolan, Rory Nolan, Oliver Nolan and Magnus Nolan.
He initially directed his Batman films so he could get funding and support for his bigger films. The one he had planned for years was Inception (2010).
Unadjusted for inflation, Christopher Nolan is only the second director after James Cameron to make two films that have grossed more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office (The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012)). However, Nolan is the first director to have released both of the films in 2D only.
Always refuses to use a second unit in his movies, preferring instead to oversee every shot himself with the DP.
Was inspired to create the Dark Knight trilogy after viewing Richard Donner's Superman films.
Has directed one Oscar winning performance: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008).
Despite directing many acclaimed films, he has only been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director once for Dunkirk (2017).
His most recent films were filmed under fake titles named for his children: The Dark Knight (2008) was "Rory's First Kiss", Inception (2010) was "Oliver's Arrow", The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was "Magnus Rex", and Interstellar (2014) was "Flora's Letter".
Drinks Earl Grey Tea often on set.
Important inspirations for his editing style were the films of Nicolas Roeg and later Terrence Malick, especially his epic The Thin Red Line (1998).
He does not create a story outline before beginning the writing of a screenplay, although he does take copious notes regarding events, characters, and ideas.
The majority of Nolan's features have one common story element: The main protagonist experiences some sort of mind problem, that significantly contributes to the storyline. In Memento (2000), Leonard suffers a short-term memory loss that has been caused by the murder of his wife. In Insomnia (2002), detective Will Dormer suffers from insomnia. Thoughtout the Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012), Bruce Wayne experiences a fear of bats, which inspires him to conquer fear and fight his mental suffering. In The Prestige (2006), the magician Angier seeks vengeance for his wife's death and constantly experiences visions of the moment she died. In Inception (2010), Cobb suffered the loss of his wife, whose suicide he might have provoked. As a result of this trauma, he constantly sees and visualizes his wife, as if she's still alive.
His first feature Following (1998) was made for only 6,000 pounds and was shot mostly on weekends for about a year, because the cast and crew all had full-time jobs.
Even though he made the Dark Knight Trilogy dark and serious, he admits to being a huge fan of Tim Burton's Batman (1989).
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have developed a dedicated following often called the 'Nolanites' or 'Nolanists'.
He completely financed his first feature Following (1998) himself and produced it without any additional funding.
His father, Brendan James Nolan, was an English advertising executive while his mother, Christina (née Jensen), was originally from North America, hailing from an English-American family of English-Irish-French descent from Evanston, Illinois and worked as a flight attendant and an English teacher.
Was offered to direct Troy (2004).
Described the IMAX format, which he is particularly fond of, as "virtual reality without the goggles".
In interviews he said, that he's only interested in making features that will be shown in theatres. He has no plans to ever work for Netflix. He criticized Netflix's distribution model as "mindless", because it would skip the traditional 3-month-theatrical-window, which he called a "terrific" model, that shouldn't be changed.
Flew in a Spitfire plane during the filming of the aerial battle scenes of Dunkirk in order to get proper and realistic dogfight shots.
He is the first non-American director to direct a Batman film.
Good friends with Zack Snyder.
In addition to their artistic and financial success, Nolan's Batman films were also highly influential in shaping the business side of Hollywood from the mid-2000s onward. The success of 'Batman Begins' popularized the notion of 'rebooting' franchises, and 'The Dark Knight' was the first Hollywood feature film to have scenes shot in IMAX (thus popularizing the format for presentations of major films). The critical outcry regarding 'The Dark Knight' being snubbed (as well as Wall-E (2008)) a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards (despite both being one of the most lauded films of the decade) motivated the Academy of Arts and Sciences to expand their Best Picture nominations field to 10 films (which was later changed to a flexible field of 5 to 10 films, depending on the results of the vote).
He has directed two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Memento (2000) and The Dark Knight (2008).
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2019 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to Film. He is a director and film-maker.
He is the first British director to have a film make one billion dollars at the box office with The Dark Knight (2008).
He directed the first comic book film to make one billion dollars at the box office: The Dark Knight (2008).
His favorite films include 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), 12 Angry Men (1957), Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), Metropolis (1927), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Ryan's Daughter (1970), Superman: The Movie (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The Tree of Life (2011).

Personal Quotes (65)

[on different acting styles] The best actors instinctively feel out what the other actors need, and they just accommodate it.
...I studied English Literature. I wasn't a very good student, but one thing I did get from it, while I was making films at the same time with the college film society, was that I started thinking about the narrative freedoms that authors had enjoyed for centuries and it seemed to me that filmmakers should enjoy those freedoms as well.
As soon as television became the only secondary way in which films were watched, films had to adhere to a pretty linear system, whereby you can drift off for ten minutes and go and answer the phone and not really lose your place.
A lot of it is being done in commercials and music videos. I've never done them, but I think that those are forms in which cross-cutting and parallel action are absolutely standard and accepted as a mainstream language. Filmmakers like myself enjoy the fruits of that experimentation and absorption by the mainstream. I think people's capacity to absorb a fractured mise-en-scene is extraordinary now compared to forty years ago.
Yes, to me that's one of the most compelling fears in film noir and the psychological thriller genre - that fear of conspiracy. It's definitely something that I have a fear of - not being in control of your own life. I think that's something people can relate to, and those genres are most successful when they derive the material from genuine fears that people have.
The term 'genre' eventually becomes pejorative because you're referring to something that's so codified and ritualised that it ceases to have the power and meaning it had when it first started. What I'm trying to do is to create modern equivalents that speak to me of those tropes that have more of the original power.
I have always been a huge fan of Ridley Scott and certainly when I was a kid. Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) just blew me away because they created these extraordinary worlds that were just completely immersive. I was also an enormous Stanley Kubrick fan for similar reasons.
[on using CGI in Batman Begins (2005)] I think there's a vague sense out there that movies are becoming more and more unreal, I know I've felt it. The demand we put on ourselves was to be as spectacular as possible, but not depend on computer graphics to do it.
[on casting Batman Begins (2005)] Batman is a marvelously complex character - somebody who has absolute charm and then, just like that, can turn it into ice-cold ruthlessness. There are very few actors who can do that, and Christian is one of them.
I think there's a vague sense out there that movies are becoming more and more unreal. I know I've felt it.
Superheroes fill a gap in the pop culture psyche, similar to the role of Greek mythology. There isn't really anything else that does the job in modern terms. For me, Batman is the one that can most clearly be taken seriously. He's not from another planet, or filled with radioactive gunk. I mean, Superman is essentially a god, but Batman is more like Hercules: he's a human being, very flawed, and bridges the divide.
But there's a very limited pool of finance in the UK. To be honest, it's a very clubby kind of place. In Hollywood there's a great openness, almost a voracious appetite for new people. In England there's a great suspicion of the new. In cultural terms, that can be a good thing, but when you're trying to break into the film industry, it's definitely a bad thing. I never had any luck with interesting people in small projects when I was doing Following (1998). Never had any support whatsoever from the British film industry, other than Working Title, the company that [producer] Emma Thomas was working for at the time. They let me use their photocopier, stuff like that, which is not to be underestimated.
We all wake up in the morning wanting to live our lives the way we know we should. But we usually don't, in small ways. That's what makes a character like Batman so fascinating. He plays out our conflicts on a much larger scale.
Working with a legend like Michael Caine is about as enjoyable and relaxing an experience on set as one could hope for. His vast experience gives him an air of good-humored calm that you could almost mistake for complacency until the camera rolls, and you see his focus and efficiency nail each scene on the first take. He once told me that he's never asked for a second take -- he's happy to do one if you have an idea for him to try, but he brings a definitive interpretation to every line. His method has the casual air of effortlessness that can only come from decades of dogged hard work, and you sense that he's still as hungry for every last morsel of a part as he was when he first captured everyone's imagination. A fine actor first, and screen icon second, he's a director's dream.
At the time I did Following (1998), I was looking at the American ultra-low-budget model that didn't really exist in the UK. A low-budget film in England tended to be about £500,000 to £600,000. In America, there was a tradition of guys like Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith making films for thousands, and that's what we'd been doing for short films. So it was really just a case of using that knowledge and expanding it to feature length. I hear of people doing it in the UK now and I think that's a great thing.
[on Memento (2000)] The budget was about £ 3 million, which is low for an independent film - but yes, it was a huge leap of faith. "Memento" was clearly on a bigger scale than Following (1998) but, at the same time, there were very strong stylistic connections. People want to see something that shows them you can do what you say. That's the trick.
The procedure is basically to try to get into film festivals. I'm half American, so I was able to come over to America and live here and start battering the American film festivals. There are a lot of great festivals, not just Sundance. So the key is to get it screened at a festival and start interesting people there.
I didn't go to film school. I guess my whole experience has been just to make films. What I've talked about on the commentary to the DVD of Following (1998) is the production method and how things came about. I feel like that might be a point of interest that a lot of people might be thinking about with their own films, so I've tried to put in as much of the detail as I can remember. The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that everybody's situation is unique, and the one thing I've learned is that instead of copying someone else's model for a low-budget film, you really have to look at what you've got available and see how you can tell the story you want to tell, using the things that you have around you. That's what we did with "Following", and on the DVD I try to explain how it worked for us and what I learned from it, but at the same time suggest that it'll be different for someone else.
[on the budget of Following (1998)] We've got a pretty serious claim on being the cheapest film ever made.
I always find myself gravitating to the analogy of a maze. Think of film noir and if you picture the story as a maze, you don't want to be hanging above the maze watching the characters make the wrong choices because it's frustrating. You actually want to be in the maze with them, making the turns at their side, that keeps it more exciting... I quite like to be in that maze.
Films are subjective - what you like, what you don't like. But the thing for me that is absolutely unifying is the idea that every time I go to the cinema and pay my money and sit down and watch a film go up on-screen, I want to feel that the people who made that film think it's the best movie in the world, that they poured everything into it and they really love it. Whether or not I agree with what they've done, I want that effort there-I want that sincerity. And when you don't feel it, that's the only time I feel like I'm wasting my time at the movies.
Every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image that the audience is seeing.
[reacting to the premiere shooting in Aurora, Colorado] Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises (2012), I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.
I sometimes get frustrated with studio executives - and indeed critics - who will watch a film in a very linear way and make notes as they go, because that's not how movies work. You get to the end - the audience gets to the end - and then you take about five minutes to decide "Okay, what was all that?" and your brain really looks at everything in a different way and then you decide. And that's why endings are so important and that's why you really have to get to the end of a movie before you know what it is.
Anybody who sees an original-negative print of a film shot in IMAX is looking at the best image quality available to filmmakers today. As long as any new technology is required to measure up to that, I think film has to remain the future.
If you're trying to challenge an audience and make them look at elements in a different way, you've got to give them a familiar context to hang onto. But you have to be very aware that the audience is extremely ruthless in its demand for newness, novelty and freshness.
We're definitely well into a phase where our actors are not willing to brand themselves as movie stars, the way actors of the past did. When you look at a guy like Christian (Bale), whether he's wearing a mask or not, this is one of our great actors. But he wants to be different in every film. He doesn't want the audience to go to a 'Christian Bale movie'. He wants them to come see the character he's playing.
[regarding his canceled Howard Hughes film] Luckily, I managed to find another wealthy, quirky character who's orphaned at a young age.
For me, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is specifically and definitely the end of the Batman story as I wanted to tell it, and the open-ended nature of the film is simply a very important thematic idea that we wanted to get into the movie, which is that Batman is a symbol. He can be anybody, and that was very important to us. Not every Batman fan will necessarily agree with that interpretation of the philosophy of the character, but for me it all comes back to the scene between Bruce Wayne and Alfred in the private jet in Batman Begins (2005), where the only way that I could find to make a credible characterization of a guy transforming himself into Batman is if it was as a necessary symbol, and he saw himself as a catalyst for change and therefore it was a temporary process, maybe a five-year plan that would be enforced for symbolically encouraging the good of Gotham to take back their city. To me, for that mission to succeed, it has to end, so this is the ending for me, and as I say, the open-ended elements are all to do with the thematic idea that Batman was not important as a man, he's more than that. He's a symbol, and the symbol lives on.
We tried with all three [Batman] films, but in the most extreme way with The Dark Knight Rises (2012), what I call this sort of snowballing approach to action and events. We experimented with this in The Dark Knight (2008), where the action is not based on clean and clear set pieces the way Batman Begins (2005) was, but we pushed it much further in this film. The scope and scale of the action is built from smaller pieces that snowball together so you're cross-cutting, which I love doing, and trying to find a rhythm in conjunction with the music and the sound effects, so you're building and building tension continuously over a long sustained part of the film, and not releasing that until the very last frame. It's a risky strategy because you risk exhausting your audience, but to me it's the most invigorating way of approaching the action film. It's an approach I applied with Inception (2010) as well, to have parallel strands of tension rising and rising and then coming together. In "The Dark Knight Rises", from the moment the music and sound drop and the little boy starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner", it's kind of like the gloves are coming off. I've been amazed and delighted how people have accepted the extremity of where things go.
I never considered myself a lucky person. I'm the most extraordinary pessimist, I truly am. I think I'm not so much a fan of science fiction as I am a fan of cinema that creates worlds, that creates an entire alternate universe that you could escape into for a couple of hours.
I think anytime you look at science fiction in movies, there are key touchstones; Metropolis (1927), Blade Runner (1982), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Whenever you're talking about getting off the planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is somewhat unavoidable.
If I don't need to be directing the shots that go in the movie, why do I need to be there at all? The screen is the same size for every shot. The little shot of, say, a watch on someone's wrist, will occupy the same screen size as the shot of a thousand people running down the street. Everything is equally weighted and needs to be considered with equal care, I really do believe that. I don't understand the criteria for parceling things off. Many action films embrace a second unit taking on all of the action. For me, that's odd because then why did you want to do an action film?
Many of the filmmakers I've admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways. I don't agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions - I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal - picture and sound.
There are filmmakers who pride themselves on "one for the studio, one for me", and I just don't see it that way. I have an opportunity that very few filmmakers get, to do something on a huge scale that I can control completely and make as personal as I want, so I feel a big responsibility to make the most of it. Because there are tremendous filmmakers out there who will never get that opportunity but would do something extraordinary with it.
I don't look at the scale of the films in terms of money or the physical size of what we're shooting. It's in terms of my life, my time, however much I'm investing in it. It took me a couple of years to make Following (1998) and another year to take it round the festival circuit. It was and remains a huge movie to me.
[on his cinematic inspirations for The Dark Knight (2008)] I always felt Heat (1995) to be a remarkable demonstration of how you can create a vast universe within one city and balance a very large number of characters and their emotional journeys in an effective manner.
[on why his films often show multiple dimensions] It might be unusual in movies, but it's very well established in other media. I'm very inspired by the prints of M.C. Escher and the interesting connection-point or blurring of boundaries between art and science, and art and mathematics. I'm thinking of his Penrose steps illustrations that inspired Inception. Also, the writing of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian writer, wrote all kinds of incredible short stories that dealt with paradox. But I feel like films are uniquely suited towards addressing paradox, recursiveness, and worlds-within-worlds. [2014]
[on Kodak's new Super 8 camera] The news that Kodak is enabling the next generation of filmmakers with access to an upgraded and enhanced version of the same analogue technology that first made me fall in love with cinematic storytelling is unbelievably exciting. [2016]
[on projecting on film vs. digital] It's got considerably better color reproduction and higher resolution when well projected. I think that people have in their minds, when they think of film projection, bad film projection - which isn't great, it's certainly true. But the highest quality film projection, you know, to my eye - and even in technical terms - exceeds anything digital projection is capable of. I think that, as far as standardizing the industry goes, then obviously digital is a powerful logistical tool for doing that and for keeping a consistent level of quality. But I don't see any reason we need to standardize. I mean, yes, it's cheaper. But the music industry doesn't standardize. No other industry standardizes. You know, Broadway plays don't standardize - you build the set you need and you configure the theater how you want it. We've had massive success on this film [Interstellar] with the theaters where we went in and literally put a projector in the booth and said, "Okay, for the run of this movie, this is how we're going to do it," you know, whether it was the 70 mm in the Chinese or 70 mm at the Cinerama Dome or whatever - those screens did incredibly well for us. People see it as an old-fashioned mentality, but it's not. It's about putting on a show for the audience in the venues where we can put on something special, something extraordinary. Yes, it requires money to do that, but if you can do it, why not? If it can pay for itself, why not?
[on his filmmaking approach] I try not to separate the side of me that admires sophisticated, aesthetic filmmakers with the side of me who grew up loving Star Wars and James Bond films.
Most of the movies that have really inspired me were box-office failures - Blade Runner (1982), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), a terrific movie, but there's no correlation between my favourite movies and box-office success.
[on Dunkirk (2017)] I wanted it to be an intense an experience as possible and therefore as lean and stripped down and short an experience as possible. You can only sustain the degree of suspense and tension that we wanted from the film for so long before you exhaust the audience. I think perhaps people hearing that I was doing a film about Dunkirk, particularly British people who know the story already are thinking big historical epic, they're imagining a three-hour film with a lot of talking and all the rest. What I did is I wrote a script that was 76 pages that is really half the length of my old screenplays because I didn't want to tell the story in words - I didn't want the theatrics of people telling the audience why you should care about them. I wanted to care about them just because of the physical situation they were in, and in that way build up a subjective experience of the events of Dunkirk that would hopefully have a cumulative quality, emotional quality through the course of the film that will pay off at the end of the film without ever being overly theatrical or sentimentalising these real life events. So the relentless pacing of it and the stripped down nature of it was something I was very determined to stick to with right from the beginning before I wrote the script. [2017]
[on remastering "The Dark Knight" trilogy in 4K] The wonderful thing about 4K technology is it gets closer to the resolution that we shot the films in. Photo-chemically finished films such as 35mm have at least 6K resolution, IMAX film upwards of 18K. So as home video formats keep evolving, 4K, particularly 4K with HDR, it allows us to give somebody at home an experience that's much much closer to what it was like to see the original film prints as projected on film. I think its a very exciting prospect and it's a long, complicated process that we're doing right now, but I think the results I'm seeing are very pleasing and very spectacular. [2017]
[on Dunkirk (2017)] [It's] one of the greatest stories of human history. At its heart, it's a survival story. The enemy is closing in on the British on this beach with no escape. I wanted to put the audience in the story. [2017]
[at the world premiere of Dunkirk (2017)] I won't say enjoy the film, that doesn't seem quite right. So I would say, experience the film and hope you get something out of it. [July 2017]
[Dunkirk (2017) has] ...the most radical structure I've employed since Memento (2000). [2017]
[on being nervous before the release of Dunkirk (2017)] It's this kind of horrible holding pattern of stress. I make films for an audience, so for me, the film isn't complete until it goes out there into the world. It's this awful, tense moment. It never gets any easier. [2017]
[on Dunkirk (2017) as 'cinema of experience'] Telling the story primarily pictorially and through sound and music rather than having people talk about who they are and where they're from - that was very attractive to me. (...) We're trying to create an experience that I talk about as being like virtual reality without the goggles. I think what's exciting about movies right now, as opposed to television or novels or the stage, is the cinema of experience, where you're sitting in a room with a lot of different people and you're being taken to a world you'd never normally travel to. [2017]
[on releasing Dunkirk (2017) in the summer] It's very exciting to be putting something different out to the audience, but it's also very frightening. It feels like it raises the stakes for the success of the film. It feels like we're carrying a bit more than we realized going into it in terms of what movies can work or can't work in the summer. [2017]
[on sound mixing] I love this part - once you lock picture, all you're doing is trying to make it the most it could be. [2017]
[on Dunkirk (2017)] I'm in a position to be able to take risks, and I feel a responsibility to take risks. You need that nervousness. You need those risks. My job is to be right on the edge of what's going to work. [2017]
[on the costs of shooting on film vs. digital] As far as the cost, it's a complete fallacy. I'm making my films cheaper than anybody working at the same scale on digital. There are no efficiencies to be gained there and no money to be saved. There's been an aggressive fight against photochemicals by companies who make money by change. They make money by selling you new equipment and building new equipment. The studios saw an opportunity to stop paying as much for release prints and follow more of a television model where you're broadcasting films rather than physically shipping them. But all of that's irrelevant. I gave a speech some years ago where I was asked to defend film, and I said that I felt like a stonemason defending marble. It's ridiculous. This is why we're all here. It's what we do. This is film. Every digital format so far devised is just an imitation of film. [2017]
[on Dunkirk (2017)] I wasn't interested in backstories. The event itself is the main character, and the empathy for the soldiers has nothing to do with their story. You're looking at their physical situation, you're looking at the task they are faced with physically, and you as the audience don't want to be in that position. The film is dragging you into an empathetic relationship with them through the openness of their expressions and the genuineness of their reactions, and you are being dragged along with their journey. You don't particularly want to be there. You want them to succeed by virtue of the fact that you are empathizing with another human being.
I think the job of a director is to be the lens through which other people's input is focused, and so really my job is to have a clear point of view, and a sincere point of view, and things that I take pleasure in, things I don't like, things that make me uncomfortable, whatever that is, whatever that input is, you're trying to focus it in a coherent manner, and that's where the personality of a director's important.
Suspense is a primarily visual language.
[on Michael Caine's vocal cameo in Dunkirk (2017)] I wanted very much to squeeze him in here. It's a bit of a nod to his character in The Battle of Britain (1969). And also, it's Michael. He has to be in all my films, after all.
[on the narrative structure of Dunkirk (2017)] The air (planes), the land (on the beach ) and the sea (the evacuation by the navy). For the soldiers who embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities. On land, some stayed one week stuck on the beach. On the water, the events lasted a maximum day; and if you were flying to Dunkirk, the British spitfires would carry an hour of fuel. To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata. Hence the complicated structure; even if the story is very simple. Do not repeat it to the studio: it will be my most experimental film. ['Premiere' magazine, 2017]
[if he would be interested in directing a James Bond movie] ...definitely. I've spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I'm always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You'd have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need you.
[on Dunkirk (2017)] This tale is about the idea of home It's about the desperate frustration of not being able to get to where you need to be. We live in n era where the idea of too many people piling onto one boat to try and cross difficult waters safely isn't something that people can dismiss as a story from 1940 anymore. We live in an era where the virtue of individuality is very much overstated. The idea of communal responsibility and communal heroism and what can be achieved through community is unfashionable. "Dunkirk" is a very emotional story for me because it represents what's being lost.
I think when people are critical of the amount of exposition that I've engaged in in my films, it's probably important that they take into account the complexity of the films as well. In some of those films, there's a lot I'm trying to get across narratively. Exposition is very tough. It's artifice. It's theatricality.
Whether you're talking about Silicon Valley billionaires or politicians, I think we're living in an era that over-prizes individuality at the expense of community. It's the Silicon Valley billionaire as opposed to the union. We've steered too far in one direction. We need to be reminded of the potential of what we can do together. It's become very fashionable in the last couple of decades to forget what good government can do, what good union organizing can do. The idea that benevolent capitalists will just take care of us and the people on top will magically distribute wealth and happiness and security to us little people ... no. It's time we wised up. Strength comes from community in all things. Dunkirk is one of those stories.
[on self-reliance] I didn't go to film school and I always made my own films. I know enough about every job on set to sort of be a pain in the ass to everybody. [May 2018]
However sophisticated your computer-generated imagery is, if it's been created from no physical elements and you haven't shot anything, it's going to feel like animation.
[why he doesn't deploy second units] To me, if I'm the director, I have to be shooting all the shots that go into a film. [May 2018]

Salary (3)

Inception (2010) $69,000,000
Interstellar (2014) $20,000,000 against 20%
Dunkirk (2017) $20,000,000 + 20% of gross

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