Christopher Nolan is a American film director, screenwriter and producer. Nolan created several of the most successful films of the early 21st century, and his eight pictures have grossed more than $3.5 billion worldwide. He is known for bridging the gap between art house and blockbuster films by presenting audiences with intelligent, challenging narratives.
Having made his directorial debut with Following (1998), Nolan gained considerable attention for his second feature, Memento (2000). The acclaim of these independent films afforded Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller Insomnia (2002), and the more offbeat production The Prestige (2006); both were well-received critically and commercially. He found further popular and critical success with the big-screen epics The Dark Knight trilogy (2005–2012) and Inception (2010). He is currently working on the science-fiction film Interstellar, which is set to be released in November 2014. Nolan runs the London-based production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.
Nolan's visual style emphasized urban settings, men in suits, muted colours, dialogue scenes framed in wide close-up with a shallow depth of field and modern locations and architecture. He has noted that all of his films are heavily influenced by film noir.
Nolan spoke of Terrence Malick's work and how it has influenced his own approach to style:
"When you think of a visual style, when you think of the visual language of a film, there tends to be a natural separation of the visual style and the narrative elements. But with the greats, whether it's Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick or Hitchcock, what you're seeing is an inseparable, a vital relationship between the image and the story it's telling".
The protagonists of Nolan's films are usually psychologically damaged, obsessively seeking vengeance for the death of a loved one. They are often driven by philosophical beliefs, and their fate is ambiguous. In many of his films the protagonist and antagonist are mirror images of each other, a point which is made to the protagonist by the antagonist. Through these clashing of ideologies, Nolan highlights the ambivalent nature of truth. His writing style incorporates a number of storytelling techniques such as flashbacks. Crosscutting several scenes of parallel action to build to a climax. Nolan has also stressed the importance of establishing a clear point of view in his films, and makes frequent use of "the shot that walks into a room behind a character, because ... that takes [the viewer] inside the way that the character enters."
Nolan uses cinéma-vérité techniques (such as hand-held camera work) to convey realism.
Nolan explained his emphasis on realism in The Dark Knight trilogy: "You try and get the audience to invest in cinematic reality. When I talk about reality in these films, it's often misconstrued as a direct reality, but it's really about a cinematic reality."