Nolan, Christopher 1970–
Nolan, Christopher 1970–
PERSONAL: Born July 30, 1970, in London, England; has dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and United States; married Emma Thomas (a film producer, production crew worker, and actress), 1997; children: three. Education: Attended University College London.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Warner Brothers Studios, 3400 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91522.
CAREER: Movie screenwriter, director, and producer. Has worked as maker of corporate training films. Director of films, including Doodlebug, 1997, Following, 1988, Memento 2000, Insomnia, 2002, Batman Begins, 2005, The Exec, 2006, and The Prestige, 2006; also directed television short Tarantella, PBS, 1989, and Larceny, 1996. Producer of films Following, 1998, and The Prestige, 2006; was also cinematographer and editor of Following.
AWARDS, HONORS: Silver Hitchcock award from Dinard British Film Festival, Best Director Award from Newport International Film Festival, Tiger Award from Rotterdam International Film Festival, and Black & White Award from Slamdance International Film Festival, all 1999, all for Following; CineLive Award and Critics Award, 2000; Jury Special Prize, Deauville Film Festival, 2000, ALFS award, London Critics Circle, 2001, for best British screenwriter of the year, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, 2001, for best screenplay, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, 2001, for best screenplay, Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards, 2001, for best original screenplay, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, Sun-dance Film Festival, 2001, Toronto Film Critics Association Award, 2001, for best screenplay, American Film Institute Award, 2002, for screenwriter of the year, Bram Stoker Award, 2002, for screenplay, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, 2002, for best screenplay, Chicago Film Critics Award, 2002, for best screenplay, Russell Smith Award, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, 2002, Edgar Allan Poe Award, 2002, for best motion picture, Florida Film Critics Award, 2002, for best screenplay, Independent Spirit Award, 2002, for best director and best screenplay, MTV Movie Award, 2002, for best new filmmaker, Online Film Critics Society Award, 2002, for best breakthrough filmmaker and best adapted screenplay, British Independent Film Award, best foreign independent film (English language), and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, for best picture and best screenplay (original or adapted), all for Memento; ALFS award for best British Director of the Year, London Critics Circle, 2003, for Insomnia.
SCREENPLAYS; AND DIRECTOR
Doodlebug (short), Momac Films, 1997, collected in Cinema 16: British Short Films, Momac Films, 2003.
Following (also see below), Zeitgeist Films, 1998.
Memento & Following (screenplays), Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 2001.
(With David S. Goyer) Batman Begins (based on a story by Goyer and characters by Bob Kane), Warner Brothers, 2005.
Also author of unproduced screenplay The Keys to the Street, adapted from the novel of the same name by Ruth Rendell.
ADAPTATIONS: Batman Begins has been adapted into two young adult books: Batman Begins: The Movie Storybook by Benjamin Harper and Training Bruce Wayne by Holly Kowitt, both published by Scholastic, 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Motion pictures, including The Prestige, directed by Nolan from a screenplay written with Jonathan Nolan, based on the novel by Christopher Priest, expected 2006; a sequel to Batman Begins; and The Exec, a futuristic drama.
SIDELIGHTS: Screenwriter-director Christopher Nolan, known for his dark dramas, reached new box-office heights with Batman Begins in 2005. The superhero film grossed 371 million dollars worldwide, more than twice its 150-million-dollar cost, making it one of the year's top moneymakers. It also received critical praise, and some film industry observers credited it with revitalizing the Batman franchise. This continued the upward trend of Nolan's career; before Batman Begins, he had directed well-received films such as Memento, which he also wrote, and Insomnia, a U.S. adaptation of a Norwegian film.
Nolan began making short films as a child and decided on a directing career by age twelve. His first feature-length film was 1998's Following, a low-budget effort starring his friend Jeremy Theobald as a would-be author who follows strangers around, ostensibly to gather ideas for his writings. One of the strangers is a criminal, and the writer becomes his accomplice. While the film had a limited release, it drew favorable attention from some critics. "Nolan is a talent who bears watching," commented Walter Addiego in the San Francisco Examiner. Meanwhile, in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote: "That the movie succeeds as thoroughly as it does—getting deeper and creepier as it goes along—is evidence of a far-seeing creative imagination. Nolan is a compelling new talent."
Of his follow-up, Memento, Variety reviewer Lisa Nesselson observed: "Nolan avoids the sophomore slump with flying colors while deepening some of the themes so craftily explored in his debut effort." With a screenplay that Nolan based on a story by his brother Jonathan, the film tells the tale of a Los Angeles man, played by Guy Pearce, searching for his wife's murderer. His quest is made more difficult by his short-term memory loss. The movie, Interview contributor Ted Loos noted, shows Nolan's "modern approach to film noir," the genre of crime films popular in the late 1940s marked by morally compromised protagonists and a generally dark view of humanity. Nesselson also noticed the film noir aspects of Memento, saying it "has an impressive noir-in-the-sunshine feel." Loos termed the film a "must-see," while Time critic Richard Schickel deemed it "full of odd, hypnotic menace."
Nolan did not write his next directorial effort, Insomnia, which is also a remake, but he made it his own, according to some critics. It gave him a chance to work with some major stars, including Oscar winners Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and Robin Williams. Like the Norwegian original, it deals with a murder investigation in a small town in the far northern latitudes during the summer, when the sun shines into the night. The U.S. version transplants the action from Norway to Alaska. Pacino plays a troubled detective called up from Los Angeles to help with the case and rendered sleepless by the midnight sun. Swank is a local police officer, and Williams is a suspect. Variety reviewer Todd McCarthy found the film "a gripping, highly dramatic thriller that more than confirms the distinctive talent of young Brit helmer Christopher Nolan." In Time, Schickel reported that Nolan "makes you feel the end-of-the-earth bleakness of his setting" and called the movie "thoughtful, quietly disturbing proof of a young director's gift."
Batman Begins offers a more serious view of the costumed crime-fighter than did the previous entry, 1997's campy Batman & Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher. Nolan's film explores Batman's origins, with wealthy youth Bruce Wayne deciding to adopt the Batman identity after witnessing the murder of his parents. Eventually, the formidable yet emotionally tortured superhero, played by Christian Bale, fights villains waging chemical warfare on his hometown, Gotham City. Several critics praised the film's dark tone. "That any filmmaker could now revive the comic book character and his retro-futuristic world of Gotham City is a minor miracle," wrote Kirk Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter. "But for Christopher Nolan to turn Batman Begins into such a smart, gritty, brooding, visceral experience is astonishing." People reviewer Leah Rozen dubbed the movie "compelling" and predicted it would "reinvigorate" the Batman film series, while Christian Century contributor Jason Byassee praised its handling of moral dilemmas and "its clever response to urban fears in the post-9/11 world." Variety commentator Todd McCarthy, however, found Batman Begins a bit too serious, stating: "There is talent and cleverness here, but not much excitement," and New Yorker critic David Denby saw "dull earnestness" in the screenplay. Nevertheless, the movie's overall success brought Nolan an assignment for the sequel and created high expectations for future Batman films. Batman Begins, related Ethan Alter in Film Journal International, "hints at even better things to come."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian Screen Education, summer, 2006, Richard Armstrong, "Somewhere in the Night: Memento," p. 119.
Back Stage West, June 16, 2005, Jenelle Riley, "Never the Obvious: Christopher Nolan Cast a Wide Net to Snare His Batman Actors," p. 11.
Christian Century, July 26, 2005, Jason Byassee, "Fear Factor," p. 43.
Entertainment Weekly, January 21, 2005, preview of Batman Begins, p. 34; April 29, 2005, Daniel Fierman, "Bat Outta Hell," p. 30; October 21, 2005, Dalton Ross, "Dark Knight's Tale: Holy Boxed Sets, Batman! The Superhero Gets a Supersize Stack of New DVD Releases" p. 59.
Film Journal International, January, 2004, "Caine Summoned to Batcave," p. 52; July, 2005, Ethan Alter, review of Batman Begins, p. 99.
Hollywood Reporter, January 7, 2002, "The First Time: Memento Writer-Director Christopher Nolan," p. 12; May 13, 2002, Kirk Honeycutt, review of Insomnia, p. 8; May 28, 2002, Borys Kit, "Sleepless in Hollywood," p. 16; May 19, 2005, Chris Morris, "Dynamic Duo Score Big with Batman Teaming," p. 6; June 6, 2005, Kirk Honeycutt, review of Batman Begins, p. 14.
Interview, March, 2001, Ted Loos, interview with Christopher Nolan, p. 84, and review of Memento, p. 86.
Metro Magazine, winter, 2003, Steven Aoun, review of Memento, p. 265.
Narrative, January, 2005, William G. Little, "Surviving Memento," p. 67.
Nation, June 10, 2002, Stewart Klawans, "Sleepless in Nightmute," p. 34.
Newsweek, June 3, 2002, David Ansen, "Going Sleepless in Alaska," p. 56; June 21, 2004, Devin Gordon, "Bat out of Hell," p. 64.
New Yorker, May 27, 2002, Anthony Lane, "Odd Couples"; June 13, 2005, David Denby, "Aiming Low," p. 187.
People, June 27, 2005, Leah Rozen, review of Batman Begins, p. 29.
Quadrant, October, 2002, Neil McDonald, review of Insomnia, p. 20.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 2, 1999, Mick LaSalle, "Creepy Following Does More with Less: Unusual Thriller a Promising Debut, p. C3.
San Francisco Examiner, April 24, 1998, Walter Addiego, "Playful Art-As-Movie Romp."
Science, June 1, 2001, Esther M. Sternberg, review of Memento, p. 1661.
Time, March 26, 2001, Richard Schickel, review of Memento, p. 73; May 27, 2002, Richard Schickel, "Sleepless in Alaska," p. 65; June 3, 2002, Jess Cagle, "Elegant Nightmares," p. 69.
Variety, September 18, 2000, Lisa Nesselson, review of Memento, p. 31; May 13, 2002, Todd McCarthy, "Nightless Pic Has Dark Soul," p. 23; April 17, 2003, Michael Fleming, "Nolan Wants Prestige," p. 1; June 6, 2005, McCarthy, review of Batman Begins, p. 46; October 24, 2005, Dave Lewis, review of Batman Begins, p. 30; December 6, 2005, Keith Collins, "Breaking Form: Filmmakers Tried on New Genres This Year," p. A14; February 27, 2006, "Batman Continues," p. 4.
W, December, 2000, Andrew Johnston, "Rise and Shine: Christopher Nolan, Filmmaker," p. 202.
BBC Web site, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (October 16, 2000), David Wood, "Christopher Nolan: Memento—Style and Story."
Christopher Nolan Web site, http://www.christophernolan.net (April 27, 2006).
Groucho Reviews, http://www.grouchoreviews.com/ (May 3, 2005), interview with Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas.
IGN.com, http://filmforce.ign.com/ (June 6, 2005), Jeff Otto, interview with Christopher Nolan.
Independent Feature Project Web site, http://www.ifp.org/ (June 1, 200), Michelle Bryant, "Christopher Nolan: Who Follows the Followers?"