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Christopher Nolan

In discussion of Christopher Nolan as a director, one controversial issue is his ability to direct coherent intelligible movies.  On the one hand, many argue that he is in fact a very successful director and that his movies specially The Dark Knight 2008 and Inception 2010 are mind blowing.  On the other hand, many also analyze his shortcomings while directing said movies.  Others even maintain that no matter how bad a director he is, what matters is the fact that these movies have surpassed others and that these films attract millions of viewers.  My own view (as a business major student) is that Christopher Nolan is a much better at business than he is at directing movies or making art.

In his movie The Dark Knight, torture of prisoners is justified.  Surveillance of everyone and everything is all right if it gets the job done.  Just throw away your civil liberties if the menace is great enough.  I found it plodding, confusing, violent, and overly long with an endless series of car chases and buildings blowing up.  Heath Ledger did a good job of licking his lips and rolling his eyeballs.  Nevertheless, what is ironic is that this movie, in which Ledger cuts up a man's face and has his own face, beat in by the Batman character.  In The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan has many formalistic cinematographically defined aspects, such as using the colors blue and black to add confusion and thrill to the film in the many violent scenes, so that the viewers can somewhat get involved in the movie. 

In his not so recent work, David Edelstein has offered harsh critiques of “The Dark Knight.”  Edelstein maintains that “Nolan appears to have no clue how to stage or shoot action. He got away with the chopped-up fights in Batman Begins because his hero was a barely glimpsed ninja, coming at villains from all angles in stroboscopic flashes.  The issue runs deeper than simply noticing bad directing skills.  The implication is that these types of overacted and exceedingly violent type of movies are what fascinate the public.  This is problematic and revealing at the same time because it proves that violence and the like are like magnet for our society and what the majority of them see as astounding . 

The movie the Dark Knight shows us the extent that people can go to in terms of rules, limits, and also what fear can drive us to become. In extension, the story is more about terrorism, where the anarchistic Joker seeks to cause madness in the streets of Gotham with Batman, the only person with any hope of stopping him. Batman, who had since reduced his crime fighting, faces an up-cry from citizens who blame him for the many phony heroes who were causing more harm than good in the city. They demand that Batman be captured and his mask removed in order to end the vigilante brand of crime fighting (Nolan, 2-3). The Joker takes advantage of Batman’s absence to orchestrate a multi-faced bank heist, hence leaving a long trail of bodies in his wake.  This scene shows that this is the most violent villain, yet as he puts together an ingenious, diabolical master plan that will test the resolve and will of all who will try to stop him, and not being afraid to kill people in inhumane ways even though he was not benefiting from it in any particular way.

This chilling aspect of the Joker is emphasized by Batman’s trusted butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), who warns, “Some men just want to see the world burn”, in reference to the Jokers actions (Edelstein, 12-3). As crime escalates in the city and the crime bosses facing a lot of heat from Batman, Harvey Dent and Lt. Gordon turn to the Joker as a final protection shield for them, who is more than willing to rise up to the challenge. This scene shows that the Joker is worse off than all the crime bosses combined in the city and is capable on taking on all three of them; that is Batman, Harvey Dent and Lt. Gordon. This gives the viewer the notion that evil could have conquered if the three good guys could not have come together, while in essence, only Batman was instrumental in stopping the Joker.

When Batman comes in to stop the Joker, he has to properly evaluate his actions so as to control the levels; he has to go to avoid being the villain instead of the hero in stopping the Joker. It is worth noting that, some Americans have read undertones to former president George W. Bush extent on the war on terrorism against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They have done that with a lot of difficulty, drawing the line on who the aggressor and the aggressed because of the thin line between counter-aggression and aggression itself.

The content of the Dark Knight is by far the darkest sequence of all batman movies since the violence is heavy handed and ruthless, with the Joker killing and maiming without remorse. One of the very first scenes in the movie shows the Joker doing a disappearing pencil trick that is stunning in its brutality, which goes to show how dreary the movie is. On the other hand though, the movie has little profanity and no sexual content apart from a scene where some women are shown in their bathing suits on Bruce’s boat. The movie also covers a lot of topics on spirituality including sacrifice, redemption, fear, selfishness, revenge and other sinful nature or qualities of man by giving characters in the movies the power to choose and decide who lives or dies. However, other characters are forced to decide on whether to continue fighting evil or join the forces of evil with each characters world caving in on them, the bottom line being you persevere or be sucked into the maelstrom. Christopher Nolan, the director of the Dark Knight, gives Ledger free authority to dig into his character and bring out the true essence of the Joker, who he plays. Ledger goes ahead to play it perfectly by dangling between sadistic mastermind and homicidal lunatic skills that give the viewers chills. He accomplishes this by using a creepy accent, clown suit and lip-smacking facial tactics.

In Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the concept of the movie converge in a realm of dreams where Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) steals ideas from the mind of competitors. Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of energy magnate Fischer (Cillian Murphy), but being inexperienced in the art of inception; Cobb hires an architecture student (Ellen Page), a chemist (Dileep Rao) and a forger (Tom Hardy) to help him. At some point, Page discovers that Cobb is losing his ability to control his subconsciousness and jeopardizes the whole plan. This is just a nutshell of what the movie entails, but of my concern, however, is the way these scenes are confusing to the viewer from the start since the action starts inside a dream before reverting back to reality. This makes it really challenging for the viewers to differentiate the actual story and the dream because they are one and the same.

In another scene, where the team reaches Fischer, the director has conjoined three dreams to play out at once, including events in the real world that result in four narratives. This makes it complicated for the viewers to follow and most end up getting lost between the dreams and the reality, unless a viewer is patient enough to hang on the end that such scenes may or may not make sense to them.  The movie inception is about perception, with the audience never really sure what the reality is since the protagonists themselves are not sure either (Jameson, 4-5). Although there are clues in the movie on what the real stories are and are not, it completely avoids giving answers, and viewers are left with the task of interpreting and coming up with their own conclusions. The whole movie of Inception borrows heavily from a key tenet of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), which is part of how our brains are wired. The idea was that the whole process of inception was a thought process where once you introduce and put a thought in someone’s head, it cannot be removed, and attempting to do so will cause the mind to focus on it more.

Once the idea is in your head, as to which one is right, inception burrows into your psyche and lets you see all the evidence you need to see to reinforce that idea, but yet again you will come across a lot of discrepancies that will define reality in a different light, thus making you unsure of what’s going on (Jameson, 4-5). Most scenes in the movie involving Batman in his suit or The Joker has an element of darkness used on the background maybe to support the violence being manifested there or to conceal the extent at which the violence is vested on the victims. This use of darkness and black color seeks to instill more fear to the viewer since black and darkness is naturally associated with bad things; this is in a movie that already has enough scary and violent scenes.

Christopher Nolan’s success in The Dark Knight can be attributed to a number of reasons including the cast that he chose for this movie. The cast include Christian Bale, who matures as Batman and is human with real feelings and reaction, Heath Ledger who plays the  Joker, and the supporting cast of Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman as Luscious Fox and Maggie Gyllenhaal who plays Rachel Dawes, who then changes towards the end both physically and psychologically (Jameson, 5-6). The director co-wrote the movie with his brother Jonathan Nolan who introduced a new twist in action movies and heroes alike by using Wally Fister’s cinematography and introducing a new concept that action movies can also engage our brains. The script itself was intelligent and insightful, which won the viewers over plus the overall use of color, scenes, and costumes to properly identify the different characters in the movie.

In short, Nolan changed the view people had on action movies and produced a movie that brings together smart people looking for movies that will stroke their intelligence to people who love action, a change in pace and a generally exciting film. In conclusion, Christopher Nolan made an extremely violent movie, but used his marketing and business skills to push the movie through channels in the Hollywood arena. Bearing in mind that he had already produced other acclaimed movies, he needed not have tried as much since his name and reputation was already established in the movie industry and Hollywood in general.

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