Auteur: Christopher Nolan


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Christopher Nolan, “best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear storytelling… 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” (Imdbcom, 2018).

If you don’t like reading this person did a decent job at summarising why Nolan is considered an Auteur:

What is an Auteur?

“An Auteur is a filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over their films are so great that they may be regarded as the author and whose films may be considered collectively as a body of work sharing common themes, techniques and expressing an individual style or vision” (Youtubecom, 2018), it is their stamp on films. See below a list of reasons why I consider Nolan an auteur

Recurring Themes/Actors:

Christopher Nolan uses mainly dark and fantasy themes that he creates in his own time. He also usually likes his films to be believable, not true but possible and grounded in reality so viewers are familiar with the environment. He uses the same cast a few times too for example Anne Hathaway in The Dark Night Rises & Interstellar and Tom Hardy in Inception & TDKR, finally Michael Cain and Christian Bale in TDK trilogy (Slidesharenet, 2018).



I think the fact he writes his films as well as directing them and also that “he has no second directing unit in his film, as he prefers to direct everything from his own vision… involved in all aspects of his films” (WordPresscom, 2014). This show he has a huge creative impact on any production he is involved reinforcing his Authorship over films

188711-inceptionNon-Linear Narrative:

One of his key signature features he is best known for is his non-linear storytelling, a common narrative style of his is multiple story threads happening all at once. One film by him most praised for this is Memento e.g. the opening sequence is the last scene of the film played backwards. Another example would be The Prestige which has its story split in two and focus on Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in that order, this film also has the last scene first (Slidesharenet, 2018).

Memento = The opening sequence is the last scene played backwards

Insomnia = Flashback clip

Batman Begins = Flashback to childhood

The Prestige = The first scene in the film is also the last one

Dark Knight = Flashback to robbery mentioned at end of Batman Begins

Inception = Flash-forward to end of film

The Dark Knight Rises = Flash back to event that occurred before main storyline starts

Interstellar = Flash forward to clips of an interview, then clip of flashback/dream.

(Perno, 2018).


He has been known for his use of betrayal. This theme appeared in most of Nolan’s Films. In Memento, Leonard betrays himself by accidentally killing his wife and then blaming some stranger. In Following Cobb betrays Bill by framing him to the police for The Blonde’s murder. In Insomnia Will betrays his partner by accidently killing him. He uses this mainly for the purpose of the story, the theme of betraying someone is part of the plot and is a very emotional motive for the audience (WordPresscom, 2014).


Often, he likes to play with perspective, such as making the audience ‘see’ what the character is seeing without being the character, this takes thought of where to place the camera. He uses this especially when the scene is focusing on a character or dialogue; it’s a clever way for his stories to drive forward as it gives a first person feel rather than being a spectator. In Inception, the vertigo-inducing fight scene in the twisting hotel room is shot from behind the character (Slidesharenet, 2018).




A technique used often in Nolan’s films is the use of troubled protagonists. The reason this theme appears is because that is the key to the story, so they overcome it at the end of the film. Nolan approaches this theme in a unique way for example the protagonist being a lone figure who gives up on society. The protagonist is driven by revenge. “In both Following and The Prestige we encounter protagonists who let themselves be shaped by their preserve relationships with other.” (WordPresscom, 2014). Another technique is one of the main characters usually start off with redeeming qualities only to be shown as having evil qualities. As an example, in The Prestige Hugh Jackman’s character who plays the victims roll when Christian Bale’s character causes the death of his wife. By the end of the movie Jackman’s obsession of revenge ends up making him as much of a Villain. Finally, in The Dark Knight Harvey Dent was Gotham’s hero until he lost the love of his life and turned into ‘Two Face’ (Perno, 2018).

Light & Dark:

Christopher Nolan uses the contrast of light and dark to show character growth/decay and exploration. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne uses the flashlight to venture into the batcave; in inception, the use of ceiling lights in the first and last scene of the movie help the audience make the connection between the future and past sequences (Slidesharenet, 2018).


Lee Smith was a favourite editor for Nolan, in fact he used the same editor for all his films apart from Memento. He also used Wally Pfister as his cinematographer for all the feature films he has made so far. Finally, he used the same production designer for many of his films, him being Nathan Crowly. It is very important for any director especially an auteur to know his crew well as it will both improve workflow and they will likely share each other’s visions better (Slidesharenet, 2018).

The Dark Night:


Nolan is most famous for his portrayal of The Dark Knight trilogy. But even in previous films he left his mark heavily on the film industry, through his intense and deep storytelling and the style he brings (Slidesharenet, 2018). People consider Nolan to be bringing back batman because he has such artistic and creative style that people just enjoy, “Christopher Nolan has been known as the man who revisited the iconic superheroes like Batman in a more realistic approach” (WordPress, 2014).


Imdbcom. 2018. IMDb. [Online]. [1 February 2018]. Available from:

Youtubecom, C.G. 2018. YouTube. [Online]. [1 February 2018]. Available from:

Slidesharenet, K. 2018. Slidesharenet. [Online]. [1 February 2018]. Available from:

WordPresscom, F. 2014. Fuwadabrar. [Online]. [2 February 2018]. Available from:

Perno, G.P. 2018. Cinelinxcom. [Online]. [2 February 2018]. Available from:


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