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The Chronology of Christopher Nolan

by on March 7, 2013

By Taylor Gaines

In a way unlike any director before him, Christopher Nolan reworked the preconceptions and preconceived notions of film viewers at his whim. He did it through his use of unique storytelling techniques that often took what viewers believed about chronology and spun it on its head.

The best and most important example from Nolan’s films is “Memento” (2000) because it put Nolan as the map as a visionary and a director.

The unique thing about “Memento” is that the entire film was shown in reverse. Now, not reverse in the sense that the characters were speaking gibberish because it was backwards, but reverse in the sense that the final scene was shown first. Then you see the penultimate scene, then the scene before that and so on.

The captivating film makes you really think about what’s going on and shows you that Nolan truly thinks in a different way than most screenwriters and directors (“Memento” was based off his brother, Jonathan’s short story about a man with no short-term memory out for vengeance against his wife’s murderer).

Another important film in Nolan’s career was, of course, “Inception” (2010). The “movie about dreams” presented a new set of rules for how time works, particularly while we are asleep. This movie leaves you wondering to the bitter end what is real and what is not.

Finally, there is “The Prestige” (2006), which is based almost entirely in flashbacks. A long conversation over a cup of coffee could be had about any of these films and a discussion over the stylistic techniques of time and chronology is certainly something that would have to be addressed.

If his movies were presented in a normal fashion — for example, if “Memento” was shown in chronological order — I don’t know whether they would have nearly the same effect.

Fortunately, they are made that way and that is what makes Nolan unique. You get the sense that his mind works in ways that others don’t, similarly to Quentin Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson, and that no one could mimic his style if they tried.

If you’re sick of normal, straightforward storytelling because “movies are all the same,” give Nolan a try. He won’t disappoint.

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