An in-depth look at, and written in collaboration with, the man considered to be the most profound, and commercially successful director at work today--a franchise unto himself--whose deeply personal million-dollar blockbuster movies (The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), Dunkirk (2017) among them) have earned more than $4.7 billion worldwide: his work, his influences, his vision, his enigmatic childhood past, and much more.
A rare, intimate portrait of Christopher Nolan with the full cooperation of Nolan himself who opened up more fully than ever before in his talks with Tom Shone. In chapters structured by themes and motifs ("Time"; "Chaos"), Shone writes of Nolan's thoughts on movies, on plots; on time, identity, perception, chaos, daydreams. Here is Nolan on the evolution of his pictures, and the writers, artists, directors, and thinkers who have inspired and informed his films. To write the book, Tom Shone, who has known Nolan for more than two decades and who spent months with the director, was given unprecedented access to Nolan's notes, scripts, storyboards, and artwork.
In this riveting portrait of an artist, Shone deftly navigates Nolan's themes, influences, and working methods (both in writing and directing). Here is his dislocated, trans-Atlantic childhood ("It makes you feel very differently about the concept of 'home'") . . . how he dreamed up the plot of Inceptionlying awake one night in his dorm ("I prized the imaginative space of listening to music in the dark, thinking about things, imagining things, films, stories") . . . his color-blindness and its effect on Memento ("People are fascinated by other people's perception of the world and the way in which it differs") . . . his obsession with puzzles and optical illusions . . . and much, much more.
Storytelling Above All Else
Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker likes to cut against the grain of the Hollywood ethos. He only works on one project at a time, his films are delivered on time & under budget, he prefers original material, and he challenges his audiences preconceptions. Similarly, this book tries to break free of the traditional trappings of a biography or memoir.
What we get from Tom Shone is a detailed schematic of not only the creative process of each of Nolan’s films, but also an unpacking of the larger zeitgeist at the respective time. To top it off, he adds in a detailed historical tracing through art, cinema, and literature to search for the seeds that formed the précis that would become masterpieces like Inception.
Don’t be mistaken, this book is not a relentless praising of Nolan’s work for the “Nolanites” like myself. It’s a cerebral journey with the fair amount criticism to remain objective and balanced in most places. When you zoom out, Tom Shone is really posing a question. When we see the way Nolan has applied his own variations to traditional film making and storytelling, where does he sit among the greats?