Christopher Jonathan James Nolan (//; born 30 July 1970) is a British-American film director, screenwriter, and producer, who is well known for directing The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), the science fiction/heist film Inception (2010), and the psychological thrillers Memento (2000), and The Prestige (2006). He has received nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes), British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA's), and the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
Nolan co-founded Syncopy Films with his wife, Emma Thomas, and they have produced all of his films since The Prestige (2006). He has frequently collaborated with a variety of talents including cinematographer and director Wally Pfister, screenwriters David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, film editor Lee Smith, composers David Julyan and Hans Zimmer, production designer Nathan Crowley, casting director John Papsidera, special effects coordinator Chris Corbould, and actors Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Tom Hardy.
In total, his directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$1.6 billion in North America and US$3.5 billion worldwide, making him one of the most commercially successful filmmakers of all time. In July 2012, Christopher Nolan became the youngest director to be honoured with a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
Early life 
Christopher Nolan was born in London, to an English father, who worked as an advertising copywriter, and an American mother, a flight attendant. As a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and United States, he grew up on both sides of the Atlantic. At the age of seven, Nolan and his older brother Matthew began making short films using his father's Super 8 camera and his toy action figures. Around the same time he began shooting Super 8 sci-fi movies, his father brought him to Leicester Square for a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which had just been re-released in England in the wake of Star Wars' success. "I remember very clearly just the experience of being transported to another world. I was a huge Star Wars fan at the time. But this was a completely different way of experiencing science fiction. I was seven years old, so I couldn’t claim to have understood the film. I still can’t claim that. But as a seven year old, I didn’t care about understanding the film. I just felt this extraordinary experience of being taken to another world."
While he was living in Chicago, he made short films with future film director and producer Roko Belic. They collaborated on a surreal 8mm short, Tarantella (1989), which was shown on Image Union, an independent film and video showcase on the Public Broadcasting Service. They were also briefly affiliated with Dan Eldon's African charity projects in the early 1990s, accompanying a five-week-long safari starting in Kenya, through Tanzania, and into the Republic of Malawi, to deliver a Land Rover and money to create a water well for a refugee camp.
Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school on Hertford Heath in Hertfordshire, and later read English literature at University College London (UCL). He chose UCL specifically for its filmmaking facilities, which consisted of a Steenbeck editing suite and 16mm film cameras. Reading literature also made him realized that filmmakers could utilize the same narrative freedoms as authors had for centuries. During his stay at the university, Nolan served as the president of the Union's Film Society; one of the oldest and most well established film societies in England. Along with his long-time film producer, Emma Thomas, he would screen 35mm feature films during the school year and use the money earned from ticket sales to produce 16mm films during the summers. He was later named an Honorary Fellow of UCL, a title given out to individuals "who have attained distinction in the arts, literature, science, business, public life or have rendered exceptional service, which may include philanthropic support, to UCL." After graduating he earned a living by directing corporate videos and industrial films, before moving to Los Angeles and getting a freelance job as a script reader.
Nolan began his professional filmmaking career with a series of short films. Larceny (1996), a short he made in black-and-white with a restricted cast, crew and equipment in the space of a weekend, contained many traits later to be seen in his first feature. Larceny was funded by Nolan himself, but shot using the society's equipment. It played at the Cambridge Film Festival in 1996, and is considered to be one of the best shorts produced by UCL in recent generations. He also made Doodlebug (1997), a kafkaesque short about a man chasing an insect with a shoe around a flat, only to discover on killing it that it is a miniature of himself. Nolan wrote, directed, co-produced, photographed, and edited the film. Jeremy Theobald, who played the lead in both Larceny and Doodlebug, would later play the protagonist in Nolan's first feature. The short has since been released on home video by Cinema16.
In 1998, Nolan directed his first feature film, Following. The film depicts an unemployed young writer who trails strangers through London, hoping that they will provide inspiration for his first novel, but ends up being drawn into a criminal underworld when he fails to keep his distance. The inspiration for the film came directly from his experience of living in London and having his flat broken into: "There is an interesting connection between a stranger going through your possessions and the concept of following people at random through a crowd - both take you beyond the boundaries of ordinary social relations".
The film was made on a budget of only £3,000, and shot on weekends, over the course of a year. He was primarily working with friends he had met through the film society, such as musician and film composer David Julyan. He also used the homes of his friends and family as locations. To conserve expensive film stock, every scene in the film was rehearsed extensively to ensure that the first or second take could be used in the final edit. He also filmed without professional film lighting equipment, largely employing available light. This was made easier by the decision to use 16 mm black and white film stock. Nolan directed the film from his own script, and also photographed and edited it himself.
Following began to receive notice after a screening at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival, where the film caught the attention of Adrian Curry, who picked up the US distribution rights for his company Zeitgeist Films. While working the festival circuit, Nolan met cinematographer and future collaborator Wally Pfister, who had shot The Hi-Line (1999), which was in competition at Sundance, while Nolan was at the neighbouring Slamdance Film Festival. The film won several awards during its festival run, including the prestigious Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. On December 11, 2012, the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection.
As a result of Following's success, Nolan was afforded the opportunity to make his acclaimed sophomore effort, Memento (2000). Emma Thomas presented Nolan's screenplay to Aaron Ryder, an executive for Newmarket Films, who said the script was, "perhaps the most innovative script I had ever seen". Soon after the film was optioned and given a budget of $4.5 million. Pre-production lasted seven weeks, during which the main shooting location changed from Montreal, Quebec to Los Angeles, California, to create a more realistic and noirish atmosphere for the film. Pfister and Nolan shot about a quarter of the film in black and white, and elsewhere used colors, light and darkness to further emphasize the noir nature of the story. The movie is based on the short story Memento Mori, written by Christopher's brother, Jonathan Nolan. It follows Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pearce), who suffers from anterograde amnesia, and uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.
Memento premiered on September 5, 2000, at the Venice International Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation. Memento was especially praised for its unique, nonlinear narrative structure and themes of memory, perception, grief, self-deception, and revenge. It was also championed by medical experts as one of the most realistic and accurate depictions of amnesia in any motion picture. Caltech neuroscientist Christof Koch called Memento "the most accurate portrayal of the different memory systems in the popular media," while physician Esther M. Sternberg, Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, identified the film as "close to a perfect exploration of the neurobiology of memory."
After the first few weeks of distribution, Memento had reached more than 500 theaters and earned a domestic total of $25 million in its box-office run. The film's success was surprising to those who passed on the film, so much so that Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, who had initially passed on the film, tried to buy the film from Newmarket. The film received numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Original Screenplay and Film Editing. Memento was subsequently mentioned by many critics as one of the best films of the decade (2000–2009), and the screenplay was featured in the Writers Guild of America, West list of 101 greatest screenplays of all time. Lionsgate re-released the film on DVD and Blu-ray following the 10th anniversary of the film.
Nolan followed Memento with the psychological thriller Insomnia (2002), starring Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. Shot in the frozen badlands of British Columbia, Insomnia is about two Los Angeles detectives sent to a northern town in Alaska to investigate the methodical murder of a local teenager. The film is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, albeit with major changes in both the plot and the nature of the main character.
The never setting sun was a central reference point in the story, and indeed the title, and while filming in Alaska during the summer months, Nolan and Pfister opted for a natural look to evoke the landscape, and played with putting the actors in darkness or light. For instance, they asked the production designer Nathan Crowley to position the detective's bed in a certain way in relation to the window. This allowed them to move his face in and out of shadows. Pfister recounted one shot of Pacino, when his character was struggling with his guilt as local policemen came looking for him. Pfister explained to the actor in the darkness he would catch the "ambient bounce", but the light was eight stops over-exposed. He recalled, "I said, when you're in the shadows, you'll be catching the ambient bounce. If you move forward, you'll be in this nuclear, bright melting light. He knew exactly how to play it."
Steven Soderbergh, who had recommended Nolan as a potential director to Warner Bros., served as an executive producer with George Clooney, through the now defunct Section Eight Productions. Insomnia was well received by critics, especially the lead performances from Pacino and Williams. The film also did moderately well at the box office, taking in $113 million worldwide, thus becoming Nolan's first commercial success for Warner Bros.
Batman Begins 
In 2005, Nolan co-wrote and directed Batman Begins. After Warner Bros. put its Batman film franchise on an indefinite hiatus when the fourth installment was released to negative reviews and disappointing box office returns, Nolan, together with David S. Goyer, convinced Warner Bros. to entrust the series to a relatively unknown director. Nolan and Goyer began to work on the film in early 2003 and aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film. The film, which was primarily shot in the United Kingdom and Chicago, relied on traditional stunts and scale models. Computer-generated imagery was used minimally.
Batman Begins was released on 15 June 2005 to acclaim and commercial success. The film revived the franchise, and heralded a trend of darker genre films, that either retold back-stories or rebooted them altogether. Batman Begins ranked as the eighth highest grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the ninth highest grossing worldwide. Previous directors of the franchise, Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, both embraced Nolan's take on the iconic character. When addressing his successor, Schumacher commented on the differences between his movies and Nolan's trilogy. "I think what's very interesting about Batman and how brilliant Chris Nolan is, if you look at the last Batman, ours were at a much simpler time. Our job was to entertain the whole family. To make it fun and sell a lot of toys. It was a franchise. The last ones is really about what we're going through, the extraordinary gap between the haves and the have-nots ... I think right now the last Batman is very reflective of the times we're living in, which are scary times." The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and for three BAFTA awards. In November 2008, Empire ranked Batman Begins 81 in its 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list.
The Prestige 
Before returning to the Batman franchise, Nolan directed, co-wrote and produced The Prestige (2006). In late 2001, when Nolan was busy with the post-production of Insomnia, he asked his brother Jonathan to help work on the script. The writing process was long collaboration between the brothers, occurring intermittently over a period of five years. Initially Nolan intended to make the film as early as in 2003, but he postponed the project when he was afforded the opportunity to make Batman Begins.
The Prestige is an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about two rival magicians in the 19th century. The film revolves around the intense professional rivalry between two stage illusionists, their desire to develop better tricks than the other draws them into a battle of skill and technology, dominated by obsession, secrecy and duality.
Like the novel before it, the film has aspects of metafiction and makes use of flashback to tell parts of the story. The three-act screenplay was deliberately structured around the three elements of the film's illusion: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige. "It took a long time to figure out how to achieve cinematic versions of the very literary devices that drive the intrigue of the story," Nolan told Variety: "The shifting points of view, the idea of journals within journals and stories within stories. Finding the cinematic equivalents of those literary devices was very complex."
Its title refers to the final part of a stage performance, where the performer attempts to return a vanished object before the eyes of the audience. This usage of "prestige" is an archaic meaning that was revived by Priest for use in the book. The film received a mostly positive response from critics and made over $109 million worldwide. The Prestige obtained Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. The A.V. Club included The Prestige in their best films of the '00s list.
The Dark Knight 
In late July 2006, the sequel to Batman Begins was officially confirmed as The Dark Knight (2008). Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote a script, based on a treatment written by himself and David S. Goyer. Principal photography began in April 2007 in Chicago and concluded in November. Other locations included Pinewood Studios, Ministry of Sound in London and Hong Kong. On January 22, 2008, some months after he had completed filming on The Dark Knight and six months before the film's release, Heath Ledger died from a toxic combination of prescription drugs, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public. Warner Bros. had initially created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screen shots of Ledger as the Joker, but after Ledger's death, the studio refocused its promotional campaign.
The film was released on July 16, 2008 in Australia and July 18, 2008 in the United States. Considered one of the best films of the 2000s and one of the best superhero films ever made, the film received highly positive reviews and set numerous records during its theatrical run. The film earned $534,858,444 in North America and $469,700,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $1,004,558,444. The Dark Knight is also notable for being the first feature film partially shot on the 15/70mm IMAX format.
At the 81st Academy Awards, it was nominated for a total of eight Oscars, and won two, the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, and a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. In spite of the film's critical success, the film was noticeably absent from the Best Picture nominee list, prompting controversy and led many to criticize the Academy Awards for "snubbing" the film. There was speculation that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later changed their number of Best Picture nominees to ten, instead of the traditional five, because of the film's omission. In a question-and-answer session that followed the announcement, the Academy's president Sidney Ganis said; "I would not be telling you the truth if I said the words Dark Knight did not come up." In 2012, Total Film ranked The Dark Knight as the sixth most accomplished film of the past 15 years, writing that "Christopher Nolan's psycho-operatic crime drama was its decade's most exciting blockbuster - and its most challenging."
After the success of The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. contracted Nolan to a seven-figure deal to direct Inception (2010). Nolan directed, wrote and co-produced the film which was described as "a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind". Inception was filmed in six countries and four continents, beginning in Tokyo on June 19, 2009, and finishing in Canada on November 22, 2009. Nolan and Pfister opted to film the dramatic scenes in 35mm anamorphic format, mainly with handheld cameras, action and visual effects sequences in 65mm, and aerial sequences were recorded in VistaVision format. They also shot a number of sequences with Photosonic cameras at 1,000 frames per second.
Inspired by the experience of lucid dreaming and dream incubation, Nolan wanted to explore "the idea of people sharing a dream space...That gives you the ability to access somebody's unconscious mind. What would that be used and abused for?" The majority of the film's plot takes place in these interconnected dream worlds. This structure creates a framework where actions in the real or dream worlds ripple across others. The dream is always in a state of production, and shifts across the levels as the characters navigate it. By contrast, the world of The Matrix (1999) is an authoritarian, computer-controlled one, alluding to theories of social control developed by Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard. Nolan's world has more in common with the works of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.
Before its release, several reports suggested that the film was too complex to appeal to a broad audience, and that it would struggle at the box office. In an article written by The Wall Street Journal, industry executives and financiers commented that the commercial prospects of Inception could influence the industry as a whole. Veteran producer John Davis remarked; "I can promise you that heads of studios are already going into production meetings saying, We need fresh ideas for summer movies, we want original concepts like Inception that are big and bold enough to carry themselves." The film was released on 16 July 2010 to largely positive reviews and grossed over $800 million worldwide. Inception was nominated for eight Oscars, and won four awards; Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.
During post-production on Inception, Nolan gave an interview for These Amazing Shadows (2011), a documentary spotlighting film appreciation and preservation by the National Film Registry. He agreed to do the interview after speaking with Doug Blush, the producer, at a piano recital featuring his son and Blush's daughter. Nolan also appeared in Side by Side (2012), a documentary about the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation.
The Dark Knight Rises 
In 2012, Nolan directed his third and final Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan was initially hesitant about returning to the series, but agreed to come back after developing a story with his brother and Goyer that he felt would conclude the series on a satisfactory note. Filming took place in various locations, including the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India, as well as London, Nottingham, Glasgow, New York City, Newark, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles.
The Dark Knight Rises was released 20 July 2012 to critical acclaim, and like its predecessor, it performed extremely well at the box-office. During a midnight showing of the film at the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman opened fire inside the theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. Nolan released a statement to the press expressing his condolences for the victims of what he described as a senseless tragedy. He wrote that "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." Despite the horrific tragedy surrounding the release of the film, The Dark Knight Rises became the thirteenth film to cross the $1 billion mark, and Nolan the second of three film directors to have two separate films doing so (the first being James Cameron with Titanic and Avatar, followed by Peter Jackson with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).
Man of Steel 
During story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises in 2010, David S. Goyer told Nolan his idea on how to present Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer's concept, Nolan pitched the idea to the studio, who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write based on the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight. The title of the film was revealed to be Man of Steel, and while Nolan admired Bryan Singer's work on Superman Returns for its connection to Richard Donner's version, he stated that the new film would not have any relationship with the previous film series. Zack Snyder was hired as director in October 2010, and principal photography started in August 2011 in West Chicago before moving to Plano, Illinois and Vancouver. The film is scheduled for release on June 14, 2013.
Future projects 
On 13 June 2012, Nolan confirmed that he and Emma Thomas would executive produce Wally Pfister's directorial debut, Transcendence. Jack Paglen wrote the screenplay, which revolve around two leading computer scientists work toward their goal of technological singularity, as a radical anti-technology organization fights to prevent them from creating a world where computers can transcend the abilities of the human brain. Transcendence is scheduled to be released in theaters on April 18, 2014. Warner Bros. will distribute the film in the United States, and Lionsgate will distribute it in other territories.
In January 2013, it was announced that Nolan will be directing, writing and producing his next project; a science-fiction film titled Interstellar. The concept of the film stems from a treatment written by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, best known for his contributions in gravitation physics, astrophysics, and for his LIGO project (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory). He worked on the film with producer Lynda Obst, who set the project up at Paramount Pictures. The first drafts of the script were written by Jonathan Nolan and was originally to be directed by Steven Spielberg. The film will reportedly depict "a heroic interstellar voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding". Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. are co-financing and co-distributing the project, set for a release date of November 7, 2014. In April 2013, Nolan appointed Hoyte Van Hoytema as the film's director of photography.
Untitled Supernatural Thriller 
On 30 June 2011, it was reported that Syncopy had set up a supernatural thriller at Warner Bros. and hired Keith Gordon to write and direct it. Nolan's former assistant and producer Jordan Goldberg is the prime mover on the project, and Nolan and partner Emma Thomas will take executive producer credits.
James Bond 
Nolan has stated in a number of interviews that the Bond films have been a particular influence on his own work. One of the first movies he ever saw was The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and in 2010, while he was in pre-production on The Dark Knight Rises, he told a BBC reporter: "I've loved the Bond films since I was a kid. For me, they're always about the expansiveness of cinema. The first Bond films set up infinite possibilities about the world they create. I’d love to do a Bond movie". After Sam Mendes passed on the opportunity to helm the next film, the rumors began to circulate that Nolan, also a fan of actor Daniel Craig's portrayal of the title character, was in talks with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to direct a new installment in the Bond series. Nothing has yet been confirmed.
Unrealized projects 
The Keys to the Street 
Gemma Arterton showed interest in starring in The Keys to the Street, based on a Ruth Rendell novel that was adapted by Nolan in the early noughties. He had adapted the book into a screenplay which he originally planned to direct for Fox Searchlight, but decided to make Batman Begins instead, citing the similarities between it and his previous films. The project is currently not in production.
Mr. Hughes 
Following Insomnia, 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 moved on to other projects. Nolan's screenplay was based on Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness, written by Michael Drosnin.
Directorial style 
Nolan spoke about his directing style in a 2012 interview for DGA Quarterly.
I use multi-camera for stunts; for all the dramatic action, I use single-camera. Shooting single-camera means I've already seen every frame as it's gone through the gate because my attention isn't divided to multi-cameras. So I see it all and I watch dailies every night. If you're always shooting multi-camera, you shoot an enormous amount of footage, and then you have to go in and start from scratch, which is tricky time-wise.
He also spoke about his approach to working with actors.
I learned lots of things on Memento, but one thing I've always adhered to since then is letting actors perform as many takes as they want. I've come to realize that the lighting and camera setups, the technical things, take all the time, but running another take generally only adds a couple of minutes. ... If an actor tells me they can do something more with a scene, I give them the chance, because it's not going to cost that much time. It can't all be about the technical issues.
For the last 10 years, I've felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I've never understood why. It's cheaper to work on film, it's far better looking, it's the technology that's been known and understood for a hundred years, and it's extremely reliable. I think, truthfully, it boils down to the economic interest of manufacturers and [a production] industry that makes more money through change rather than through maintaining the status quo. We save a lot of money shooting on film and projecting film and not doing digital intermediates. In fact, I've never done a digital intermediate. Photochemically, you can time film with a good timer in three or four passes, which takes about 12 to 14 hours as opposed to seven or eight weeks in a DI suite. That's the way everyone was doing it 10 years ago, and I've just carried on making films in the way that works best and waiting until there's a good reason to change. But I haven't seen that reason yet.
Nolan chooses to minimize the amount of Computer Generated Imagery for special effects in his films, preferring to use practical effects whenever possible. For instance, his films Batman Begins and Inception had 620 and 500 visual effects shots respectively, which is considered minor in comparison to contemporary visual effects epics that can have around 1,500 or 2,000 VFX shots.
I believe in an absolute difference between animation and photography. 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. There are usually two different goals in a visual effects movie. One is to fool the audience into seeing something seamless, and that's how I try to use it. The other is to impress the audience with the amount of money spent on the spectacle of the visual effect, and that, I have no interest in. We try to enhance our stunt work and floor effects with extraordinary CGI tools like wire and rig removals. If you put a lot of time and effort into matching your original film elements, the kind of enhancements you can put into the frames can really trick the eye, offering results far beyond what was possible 20 years ago. The problem for me is if you don't first shoot something with the camera on which to base the shot, the visual effect is going to stick out if the film you're making has a realistic style or patina. I prefer films that feel more like real life, so any CGI has to be very carefully handled to fit into that.
His films share several common characteristics. In addition to actors who appear in multiple films, Nolan's visual style typically emphasizes urban settings, men in suits, generally muted colors - bordering on a monochromatic palette, dialogue scenes framed in wide close-up with a shallow depth of field, and strong emphasis on location and architecture, typically modern. His films draw heavily on neo-noir characteristics, with Nolan himself noting that he considers all of his films to belong to the genre.
In terms of characters, his films usually revolve around obsessive protagonists with some kind of psychological disorder, who are seeking vengeance over the death of a loved one. The characters are often driven by a philosophical belief, and their fate is left open to interpretation. Nolan's dialogue and writing-style can be described as naturalistic, and he often utilize meta-functional monologues, foreshadowing, and ambiguous endings. Scenes are often interrupted by an counterintuitive editing style of cutting away quickly from what would be the money shot, as well as crosscutting several scenes of parallel action to build to a climax. The editing is also used to represent psychological states and merge the characters' subjectivity with that of the audience.
Thematically, Nolan's work explore themes such as existentialism, identity, obsession, sacrifice, betrayal, loneliness, solitude, self-deception, memory, revenge, violence, escalation, terrorism, corruption, redemption, surveillance, theatricality, the dark side of human nature, alienation, self-incrimination, dealing with grief, idealism vs realism, the ghosts of the past, regret, and deception, which may explain his frequent use of complex labyrinthine narrative structures, and morally ambiguous characters. Theatricality and deception are embedded as internal themes and also function as Nolan's commentary on the artifice of filmmaking itself.
Many of his films, particularly The Prestige and Inception, metaphorically deals with the importance of a shared communal experience of watching something unfold on the big screen. In The Prestige, Hugh Jackman's character Robert Angier says something of a similar philosophical belief: "The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It's miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder. Then you get to see something really special ... It was the look on their faces." In Inception, the character Mal repeatedly tells Cobb a riddle, which may be interpreted as a metaphor aimed at the passive moviegoer: "You're waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don't know for sure. But it doesn't matter. How can it not matter to you where that train will take you?".
Nolan has previously cited Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg, Sidney Lumet and John Frankenheimer as important influences on him as a filmmaker. Some of his favorite films include Blade Runner (1982), Star Wars (1977), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Chinatown (1974), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
In 2013, Criterion Collection released a list of Nolan's ten favorite films from their catalog, which included The Hit (1984), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Bad Timing (1980), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), For All Mankind (1989), Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Mr. Arkadin (1955), and a special citation for Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924), which isn't available on Criterion. He has also expressed his admiration for films such as Out of the Past (1947), Topkapi (1964), Performance (1968), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), The Black Hole (1979), The Wall (1982), The Hitcher (1986), and Pulp Fiction (1994).
Recurring collaborators 
This chart lists every actor who has appeared in more than one film directed by Nolan.
|The Dark Knight
|The Dark Knight Rises
|Mark Boone Junior|
Nolan's wife, Emma Thomas, has produced all of his films, including Memento, in which she is credited as an associate producer. His uncle John Nolan was cast as a police officer in Following, and as Fredericks, a Wayne Enterprises Board Member in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises. His cousin Miranda Nolan appeared as the flight attendant in Inception, and a maid working at Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises.
He often collaborates with his brother, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, who describes their working relationship in the production notes of The Prestige: "I've always suspected that it has something to do with the fact that he's left-handed and I'm right-handed, because he's somehow able to look at my ideas and flip them around in a way that's just a little bit more twisted and interesting. It's great to be able to work with him like that."
Lee Smith has been Nolan's editor since Batman Begins, with Dody Dorn editing Memento and Insomnia. Wally Pfister served as the cinematographer on all of Nolan's films starting with Memento and ending with The Dark Knight Rises. Pfister spoke of his relationship with Nolan saying: "Mine and Chris' working relationship is defined, quite simply, by the great respect we have for each other. I've learned so much from him in terms of him pushing me to find beauty in a simpler method of photography. We're also very like-minded, we share a sense of humor, and from the beginning I trust his judgement." Pfister is currently in the process of making his directorial debut, Transcendence, with Nolan and Thomas on board as executive producers.
David Julyan composed music for Following, Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, and the short films Larceny and Doodlebug, while Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard provided music for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Zimmer scored Inception and The Dark Knight Rises without Howard.
From Batman Begins, Nolan has been collaborating with special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, stunt coordinator Tom Struthers and visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin (from Double Negative). Production designer Nathan Crowley has worked with Nolan since Insomnia (with the exception of Inception). As of 2012, casting director John Papsidera has worked on all of Nolan's films apart from Following and Insomnia.
Nolan often casts older veteran actors whose careers have stalled in supporting roles. Examples include Rutger Hauer in Batman Begins, Eric Roberts and Anthony Michael Hall in The Dark Knight, Tom Berenger in Inception, and Matthew Modine in The Dark Knight Rises. About working with Nolan, Modine noted "There are no chairs on a Nolan set, he gets out of his car and goes to the set. And he stands up until lunchtime. And then he stands up until they say, 'Wrap.' He's fully engaged — in every aspect of the film."
Actor Michael Caine has been a frequent collaborator since his appearance in Batman Begins. In addition to his appearance in Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, Caine had important supporting roles in The Prestige and Inception. Nolan, who considers him his "good luck charm", was described by Caine as "one of cinema's greatest directors", while comparing him favorably with David Lean, John Huston and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Personal life 
In 1997, Nolan married Emma Thomas, his girlfriend at UCL and long-time film producer. They own the production company Syncopy Inc. together. The name derives from "syncope", the medical term for fainting or loss of consciousness. Their working relationship has been described as "equal captains of the ship". Thomas handles the business side of things, so that Nolan can focus on the creative elements. They have four children, Oliver, Magnus, Rory and Flora, and reside in Los Angeles.
Nolan has acknowledged that he doesn't have any interest in owning a mobile phone or an email account. When Warner Bros. assigned Nolan an email at his office, he didn't realize it until a couple years later, "There were thousands of e-mails in this account - some from quite important people, actually," he said. "I had them take it down, so people didn't think they were getting in touch with me." Further, on the topic of cell phones, he has commented that, "It's not that I'm a luddite and don't like technology; I've just never been interested. When I moved to L.A. in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path."
He is also known for being a 'snappy' dresser, rarely seen without a suit or blazer. While shooting his second film, Memento, in the blazing heat of San Fernando Valley, his crew marvelled at how he always kept his cool. 'One day I looked at him,' recalls producer Jennifer Todd, 'and I said, "How can you keep that blazer on?" And he said, "Well, I like to do it out of respect for the crew". When he was asked a similar question in an interview with DGA, Nolan laughingly replied, "I went to a boarding school where we had to wear a uniform, and I got used to using all the pockets in my jacket. It’s just what I’m comfortable in. I don’t like to think about what to wear, so I just wear the same thing every day".
|Year||Title||Credited as||Notes||Worldwide Gross|
|2008||The Dark Knight||Yes||Yes||Yes||$1,004,558,444|
|2011||These Amazing Shadows||Yes||Himself, documentary||N/A|
|2012||Side by Side||Yes||Himself, documentary||$58,825|
|The Dark Knight Rises||Yes||Yes||Yes||$1,081,041,287|
|2013||Man of Steel||Yes||Yes||Story credit|
As of January 2013[update], Nolan's films have earned a total of over USD$ 1.6 billion at the North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The variance is large: his independent debut, Following, was mostly shown at film festivals and earned $48,482 in just two theatres, while The Dark Knight earned $533,345,358 in 4,366 cinemas. According to the UK Film Council in their 2011 Statistical Yearbook, Nolan is the second most commercially successful British director since 2001.
Nolan has earned many fans and high praise from directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, James Cameron, Paul Greengrass, Guillermo Del Toro, Kevin Smith, Danny Boyle, Brian De Palma, Joss Whedon, Steven Soderbergh, Duncan Jones, Damon Lindelof, Joe Carnahan, Francis Ford Coppola, Ben Affleck, Werner Herzog, Atom Egoyan, Matthew Vaughn, Brad Bird, Tim Burton, Rian Johnson, and Nicholas Winding Refn. In an article published by Empire, about the impact of The Dark Knight, filmmakers such as Neil Marshall, Rupert Wyatt, David Koepp, Gareth Edwards, Drew Goddard, Adam McKay, Peter Berg, Zack Snyder, and Wes Anderson praised Nolan for his directorial effort. Sam Mendes stated that "Nolan proved you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with The Dark Knight, it's not even set in our world."
In 2007, Total Film named him the 32nd greatest director of all time In 2012, The Guardian ranked him #14 on their list of "The 23 Best Film Directors in the World" The following year, Entertainment Weekly named him the 12th greatest working director, writing that "Nolan is the rare director determined to make you, the moviegoer, walk out of the theater after his film and gasp, I've never seen anything like that before. His movies are full of twists and riddles, and even his popcorn fare is stuffed with enough brain candy to fill up a graduate school syllabus."
|Year||Film||Academy Award Nominations||Academy Award Wins||Golden Globe Nominations||Golden Globe Wins||BAFTA Nominations||BAFTA Wins|
|2008||The Dark Knight||8||2||1||1||9||1|
|2012||The Dark Knight Rises||1|
- At the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, Nolan and his brother Jonathan, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Memento. In 2013, Total Film ranked Memento the second best film to have played at the festival.
- In 2003, Nolan received the Sonny Bono Visionary Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The executive director of the festival, Mitch Levine, stated that "Nolan had in his brief time as a feature film director, redefined and advanced the very language of cinema."
- In 2009, Nolan was the recipient of the Board of the Governors Award from American Society of Cinematographers. ASC President Daryn Okada noted that "Chris Nolan is infused with talent with which he masterfully uses to collaboratively create memorable motion pictures," and that "his quest for superlative images to tell stories has earned the admiration of our members."
- In 2011, Nolan received the Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, as well as the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award from the American Cinema Editors.
- The same year, Nolan was awarded the highest honor presented by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Modern Master Award. "Every one of Nolan's films has set a new standard for the film community, with Inception being the latest example," commented Roger Durling, the executive director of the festival. He was also feeted by the Visual Effects Society, with their first inaugural VES Visionary Award.
- In July 2012, Nolan was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
- Nolan, Christopher "Charisma as Natural as Gravity". Christopher Nolan. Newsweek. 2008-01-26. A memoir of Heath Ledger.
- Nolan, C. (Author); Nolan, Jonah (Preface) (2010), Inception: The Shooting Script, Insight Editions, ISBN 1-60887-015-4
- Nolan, C. (2001), Memento & Following, Faber and Faber, ISBN 0-571-22994-8
- Nolan, C.; Goyer, David, S. (2005), Batman Begins: The Screenplay, Faber and Faber, ISBN 0-571-21047-3
See also 
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