Christopher Jonathan James Nolan (born July 30, 1970) is an English director, screenwriter and producer. He is known for writing and directing such critically acclaimed films as ‘Memento’ (2000), ‘The Prestige’ (2006), ‘Inception’ (2010), and rebooting the Batman franchise, as well as directing the Hillary Seitz written ‘Insomnia’ (2002).
Nolan was born in London, the son of an English father who worked as an advertising copywriter and an American mother who was a flight attendant. He has a younger brother, Jonathan, with whom Nolan often collaborates on film scripts. Nolan began making films at the age of seven using his father’s super 8mm camera and an assortment of male-action figures. He graduated to making films involving real people, and his super 8mm surreal short ‘tarantella’ was shown on PBS’ ‘image union’ in 1989. Chris studied English Literature at University College London while starting to make 16mm films at the college film society. His short film ‘larceny’ was shown at the Cambridge Film Festival in 1996, and his other 16mm shorts include a three- minute surreal film called ‘doodlebug’.
Nolan directed his first feature film, ‘Following’, in 1998. The film depicts a writer who is obsessed with following random people. Scenes are shown out of chronological order. Nolan made the film on a budget of only $6,000. He shot it on weekends, over the course of a year, working with friends he had met at the University College London film society. It began to receive notice after premiering at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival, and was eventually distributed on a limited basis by Zeitgeist in 1999.
As a result of the film’s success, Newmarket Films optioned the script for Nolan’s next film, Memento. ‘Memento’ (2000) is a critically acclaimed cult film, which was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best screenplay. The movie is based on the short story written by Christopher’s brother, Jonathan. It follows widower Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) who suffers a head injury and is unable to form new memories. In keeping with this inability to know what has just happened before, the film’s narrative structure runs in reverse (with an interlude between each pair of major “flashback” sequences).
In 2002, Nolan directed ‘Insomnia’, an American 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 plot of Insomnia revolves around two Los Angeles homicide detectives that are dispatched to a small town in Alaska, where the sun does not set, to investigate the methodical murder of a local teenager.
In 2003, Nolan, together with Blade screenwriter David S. Goyer, convinced Warner Bros. to take the risk of entrusting the first of a revived Batman film series to a relatively unknown director. ‘Batman Begins’ was released on June 15, 2005 and became a box office hit, ranking as the eighth highest grossing film of 2005 domestically and the ninth highest grossing worldwide. It received a very positive critical and public reception, with many ranking it as superior to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Strengths of the movie included its dark and intelligent storyline, strong emphasis on character, and the predominant themes of fear and duality. Batman Begins was a major winner at the 32nd annual Saturn Awards. The film won for Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor for Christian Bale and Best Writing for Nolan and Goyer. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Nolan’s long time collaborator Wally Pfister.
Nolan followed up with ‘The Prestige’ released on October 20, 2006, about two rival magicians in the 19th century. It reunites Nolan with Batman Begins stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine as well as starring Hugh Jackman. Co-scripted by his brother, Jonathan and co-produced with his wife, Emma Thomas, the movie had a mostly positive response from critics and made over $109 million worldwide.
Nolan returned to Batman with ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), reuniting the original cast and featuring Heath Ledger in an Academy Award winning performance as Batman’s arch-enemy, The Joker. Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote a script.The film was released to overwhelming critical acclaim with some critics calling it the greatest comic-book based movie ever made. It also had enormous box office success, setting the record for the highest-grossing weekend opening in the U.S. with over $158 million and becoming the 3rd highest grossing film of all time domestically, and the sixth-highest worldwide at the time.
After the release of Nolan’s successful 2008 film The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. contracted Nolan to a seven-figure deal to direct the science fiction film ‘Inception’. The film was based on a script written by Nolan and has been described as being “a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind”. Inception was released on July 16, 2010 to largely positive reviews and became a box office hit, and in my opinion was the best film from 2010.
Nolan has written a script for a re-booted Superman movie which he will produce after hiring Zack Snyder to direct. However the big news is the forthcoming final instalment of his Batman series, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ which is due later this year.