Directed by Christopher Nolan: Besties of the Multi-Genre Genius

“Tenet” - a film now in the public eye, directed by Christopher Nolan, with Robert Pattinson and John David Washington. The most waited-for release of the post quarantine phase; and, of course,widely admired for its cinematography. Everyone is again reminded of Mr. Nolan. But who had ever forgotten him? As he had made other movies that are still popular. So, we look back at “Dunkirk”, “The Prestige” and “Inception” to see the conflicts that Christopher Nolan has exposed.

Christopher Nolan often goes beyond, and his films resemble fantasy, but with reality in the basement of the plot. Indeed, for Gotham there is a prototype, for the intimacies of show business there is prestige, and in Interstellar, in general, the eternal desire of a person is opposed not only to surfing the galaxy but also to appropriating the vastness of cosmic fields. Christopher Nolan, although he is a master of merging detective thrillers with science fiction, directs films that are about big stories on big screens. Such powerful films, where everything is stunning: the plot, the on-screen, and the people.

“Dunkirk” is the first war drama with a minor display of special effects, unnecessary quotes, and a large dose of reality, and desperate attempts to justify oneself and flee with a clear conscience.

“Prestige” is again about conscience and the struggle for a place under the sun. It is also a story about the daily deceptions that are being prepared for us not only by society but also by the show business sector itself. Christopher Nolan creates interesting conflict lines, once again confirming his talent to see through time, through the audience – after all, what is a film, if not a clear hit in the bull’s-eye!


“The Prestige”, 2006

Stars: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson

This film is primarily about a passion to achieve a goal. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how much blood it might spill. It is only significant to be on top, to own the prestige, the stage, the people. The film “Prestige” is a story about extremes. What is a person willing to do to achieve his goal? Let me remind you that the events are set in London, between the 19th and 20th centuries. Under the leadership of the hero, Kane, two young magicians – Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred (Christian Bale) – begin their careers. In the role of an assistant, Robert’s wife Julia (Piper Perabo) works with them. A dangerous trick, which Alfred, obsessed with a passion for innovation, decides to attempt, costs her life. Alfred leaves the trio of magicians and becomes an independent stuntman. Between Robert and Alfred, a conflict flares up that lasts a lifetime. The picture is dedicated to their deadly rivalry and its incredible outcome.

Hugh Jackman Photo Shutterstock s bukley
Hugh Jackman Photo Shutterstock s bukley

According to the film, the hero played by Christian Bale is much more talented than the hero played by Hugh Jackman, although it is the latter who is more famous. What is very symbolic is the choice of actors, because the Englishman Bale is an outstanding actor. He brilliantly plays in films like “Batman” and takes parts in films such as “American Psycho”. Australian Jackman is an actor-star who is charismatic and handsome. The juxtaposition of the two actors sets up a conflict between the characters, a conflict for that very prestige, as if both Bale and Jackman hold the main trump cards, but there is only one place at the top, and unfortunately it is not divisible. They seem to represent the bright world of the show, and Scarlett Johansson is a prize and an award that passes from one to the other.

Scarlett Johansson Photo. Shutterstock Kathy Hutchins
Scarlett Johansson Photo. Shutterstock Kathy Hutchins

The combination of eras, in the appearance of Nikola Tesla, is also part of the conflict. This is a person’s struggle with the elements, changes in boundaries, the competing superpowers. Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) becomes the embodiment of the image of the coming century, a great inventor whose ideas will remain fantastic for a hundred years. The appearance of a fantastic line in the picture, where any miracle is explained in detail, and the details are spelt out with real British thoroughness, confuses the viewer. What to predict in the finale, when there is an inveterate struggle between two magicians on the screen. It becomes obvious that the climax must be a furor. And one makes such an impression, that only the finale itself destroys all the built castles of magic before that. The appearance of Alfred’s twin brother says that there is nothing unusual, guys, for successful teleportation you always need a second one. Which makes the film unrealistic. And again everything is gone. Down to the limit. To the edge of prestige.


“Inception”, 2010

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy

And here again – an action film, a drama, a thriller, a fantasy. And here again Tom Hardy, and also Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon – Levitt.

Leonardo DiCaprio / Photo Shutterstock s bukley
Leonardo DiCaprio / Photo Shutterstock s bukley

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) makes a living by stealing secrets from the memories of important people. The thefts are carried out in dreams. With the help of a special suitcase, Cobb connects to a sleeping victim, connects with the reality of dreams, and opens an imaginary safe, where the victim unconsciously hides all his secrets. Cobb’s life is hard – having escaped from the U.S., he wanders around the world as a tramp, missing his son and daughter, and constantly dreams of his deceased wife, the character of Marion Cotillard. The grueling task for the Japanese master, played by Ken Watanabe, could help him to finish with his struggles and finally be with his children. It is necessary to inspire in the bewildered heir to the energy empire, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), a desire to destroy everything that his father has created. Leonardo DiCaprio reappears here in the role of a man in a dangerous profession, with mental problems and a confused sense of reality. The plot proceeds according to the scheme: the hero is a professional who solves problems of any complexity. An internal trauma that makes him go to extremes. Here he is pursued by an overload of dangerous tasks, which he deliberately takes on to solve his internal problems. Anyway, the winner emerges.

The standard formula for Hollywood scripts, where the protagonist is a crazy genius. And yet, in the labyrinths of “Inception”, the ghosts of many magnificent films pop up. With the Leo character, as presented by Nolan, an image emerges that invites comparison with the wonderful psychopaths played by DiCaprio in the last decade. The film can be classified as belonging to the robbery genre but is just the opposite. Nolan uses the plot of an action film, complete with ideas in depth: he talks about the danger of doubting the reality of the world, about the desire to go into virtual reality, where everything is easy, without effort and resistance. Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception”, like any ingenious creation, is multi-layered and multi-valued. It could be a process of healing from mental wounds, with fascinating visual and special effects, the secrets of the art of dreaming. Uncertainty is the very fabric of the film.


“Dunkirk”, 2017

Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance

An historical drama, the complete opposite of all Nolan films. It is his debut in the arena of war films.

The very beginning of World War II. 1940, France. The events begin with scenes of the trap set for hundreds of thousands of British and Allied forces by the enemy. Pinned down on the beach, with their backs to the sea, they face a hopeless situation as the Germans come closer and closer. After the breakthrough at the Maginot Line, significant parts of the French, British and Belgian troops are forced into the seaside city of Dunkirk. Due to the impossibility of full-fledged assistance by land, the British Admiralty decides to carry out a complete evacuation of the surrounded units by sea. The film tells the story of the rescue of more than 300,000 soldiers during the Dunkirk operation. It is a sophisticated strategy that continues for almost eight days under constant enemy fire.

An earlier film about Dunkirk came out in 1958. And many viewers have compared the film by Christopher Nolan and Leslie Norman.  The earlier version was more truthful and satisfying. The devaluation of the new “Dunkirk” comes from the fact that everyone has been accustomed to seeing Nolan in the role of a guardian of justice and an endless science fiction writer, wearing a black coat. But the change in genre is, firstly, a liability not only for the director but also for the audience. That is, the willingness to accept the perspective without throwing away its success in advance of viewing. Only because Nolan is the father of Gotham masterpieces, and Dunkirk never fits this description. But there is no more real Dunkirk beyond the genius of Nolan.

Tom Hardy Photo Shutterstock BAKOUNINE
Tom Hardy / Photo Shutterstock BAKOUNINE

The film is divided into three storylines and shows events from three points of view. The first:  two young deserters who want to live and flee Dunkirk more than the others do. The second: an elderly civilian sailor (Mark Rylance), who, together with his seventeen-year-old son and his colleague, decide to board one of the boats to help evacuate the soldiers. The third: a pilot (Tom Hardy), who provides air cover for the departing ships. There is an element of disorder in the plot. Like sharp jumps from line to line, from story to story. But this picture is not about the fact that soldiers decided to flee, but about the fact that the British government was unable to prepare detailed plans for the troops and think through a strategy for the operation. Whether you judge by the truth, we should look for the rationale in the crux of the problem. And all three stories are based on unauthorized decisions, as in the case of the civilian sailor, or the three young soldiers, as hostages of the situation, in Tom Hardy’s call to duty. Probably, the onlookers are not getting the gist of what Nolan wanted to show. After all, a superhero is not a man of steel in a fictional world. By the way, in real wars, he is not afraid of emotions and through fear takes action, for example, finds himself in a trap set by thousands of German soldiers.

Christopher Nolan is a man of unpredictable talent. And perhaps the story about Agent Tenet is a new masterpiece. We’ll see!

Photos: Shutterstock

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