Christopher Nolan has emerged as one of the most popular directors currently working in Hollywood. What is the secret to his success? What is it that makes Christopher Nolan films popular?
Nolan takes chances with his films, and doesn’t turn out the fare one usually finds in Hollywood. ‘Memento’ is a fine example of this. The film is structure in such a way that the ending is shown first, and then moves backwards scene by scene until arriving at what one would term the beginning. Nolan unravels the mystery in reverse and shocks us with the truth about what is going on at the point where the film would traditionally begin. No other film has successfully done this.
Nolan also likes to present us with alternative views of things with which we’re already familiar. Most everyone knows who Batman is, and at least a little bit about the character. Nolan was able to take this character and reinvent him cinematically in ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, presenting us both with a Batman we were familiar with as well as one we had never seen before. Batman is the most attractive of superheroes to many people because he’s the one that doesn’t have any super powers or abilities. He’s simply a man who trained long and hard to fight crime. He’s the closest to a “hey, this could happen” superhero.
Nolan seized on that and took away the fantastical elements of Batman while grounding him in a world where his fortune and his company could provide him with the things he needs to fight crime. Doing this allowed the audience to relate more to the character. Nolan also reinvented the character of the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Rather than a crook transformed by a bath in a vat of chemicals, Nolan presented the Joker as a disfigured maniac wearing makeup and with a mysterious past. Again, the character had more realistic roots than his comic origins. The result was a character that stole the show in the film.
Lastly, Nolan enjoys stories that are different than what we’re seeing in other films. As previously mentioned, ‘Memento’ told a story in reverse, offering the audience something they had never seen before. ‘Inception’ took us into a world of dreams where one could travel deeper and deeper by dreaming within dreams. A real time instance of a truck going off of a bridge that would have lasted about 5 seconds stretched out to almost 30 minutes due to the rules of the dream world, and yet interest was never lost. Following offered us a character who liked to follow people for no other reason than he was addicted to it. His addiction ended up costing him in the end.
Christopher Nolan films are popular because Nolan isn’t afraid to take chances in his films and try new things. He isn’t satisfied with status quo. He likes interesting characters, and his films are character driven even if they are high on special effects. He also likes interesting stories. As long as he continues to stick to this formula, he will remain popular.