Chistopher Nolan has left the small movie seemingly in his wake in his rise to meteoric heights. He doesn’t use his Batman to fund small dramas, he uses Batman to go even bigger with things like Inception and personally I am all for it. His movies while getting bigger and bigger don’t lose their meanings, themes and what they say about Nolan himself. In most cases I would say his Blockbusters are an even better window into the man behind the camera and I will show you why.
It is so perfect that this movie’s theme, villain and plot is about fear. Imagine it from Nolan’s perspective. New kid on the block, coming into a franchise that regardless how you feel about the Shumacker films was dead. I mean Catwoman came out while he was making this, a morale booster that is not.
It then also makes sense why there are the lingering ghosts of the previous films, this film’s Gotham is clearly inspired by science fiction as much as it is the 4 Batman films prior to this, as much as Bruce Wayne was exorcising his fears of his past, Nolan was doing the same thing for the Batman franchise for a new beginning. At the end of the film Jim Gordon talks about escalation and this movie doing well was the springboard to all of that.
Two men, both obsessed with their art, both with different perspectives on how it should be preformed in a constant duel with each other and their pasts. Borden is all about craft and complete dedication to it and the practically. Angier on the other hand is all about the audience and using whatever means or crazy technology to give them a show that they will never forget. What they both find is the process of entertainment is one that is always wrought with sacrifice and getting ones hands dirty. Also I think it is fitting with Nolan’s career moving forward who wins at the end. The simple illusion over the special effects however he is still haunted by the final words of Angier:
You never understood, why we did this. The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you… then you got to see something really special… you really don’t know?… it was… it was the look on their faces…
The Dark Knight:
When Ang Lee came on to make the Hulk, he incorporated a lot of techniques that made the screen look like a comic without understanding that the static nature of the comic is what gives the panel structure its power and just using split screen does nothing to compliment that. Nolan understands all that. This film was maligned when it came out because it was full of consistency and continuity errors, the scenes would jump, or just cut out, or just end. I have come to believe that it was all in effort to show people a comic book film that properly translated that feel over to another medium, yet at the same time not telling anyone he was doing it. What solidified that was reading this post. (the writing style here is……interesting, but if you stick through it you WILL NEVER WATCH TDK THE SAME WAY AGAIN). He spent an entire film on pledge, turn, prestige so you were ready for the magic trick that was this film.
This one I am not going to talk about style because it has been done expertly here. However I will echo that this is a heist film, but it is a heist film of a different cut. It is about the heist that is making movies in the Hollywood system and the Inception of getting that together and the best way to explain that point is to go character by character:
Robert Fischer: This character is the audience, the story being told (outside all the Cobb stuff that we will get to later), the whole point the Heist is to a reaction out of this man, during the course of the movie he is won over onto the side of the filmmaker and from there on is in the thick of it.
Saito: Foreign, rich, backing the entire thing. This guy has producer all over him, he begins with a screen test for the leader, moves closer into the inner workings of the production before the job and then during the mission he is the only one who gets shot, bleeding money all the way to end. He survives because the movie did its job.
Yusuf: The chemist, the audio/visual effects wizardry of the process. He is driving the van, he is in charge of keeping the ship consistent and looking right even as the hail of bullets from the subconscious of the audience(Fischer), who are trained to see through that bullshit hunt him down to murder him.
Eames: This one is the easiest, the cast of the film. He is the actor, the chameleon, anything the film needs him to be at whatever point it is at. Femme Fatale, to action star, a confident of Fischer.
Airadne: Designer, brought in specifically by the director, given the parameters of the world to be created, set about to do it, pulled in deeper and forced to change and update things on the fly as the production happens.
Authur: Cool, calm, collected, always looking the part. Keeps the whole production leveled and looking crisp. Cinematographer, spin the room and he will still look incredible contained within it.
Cobb: Nolan himself, the director the maestro. Everyone is dreaming his dream but he is kept out of certain parts of it. His subconscious, his guilt, his past pain seeps into the film as it gets deeper and deeper into production. He extends his hand the audience and beckons them to come along, he opens the eyes, blows the minds. At the end when the film is done he goes back to his family and puts the top behind him, Inception complete, film made, the idea has been planted.
All the “levels” of this film are incredibly potent film locations. People complained that he didn’t go crazy enough with the dreams, but the point of them was to reference the films that have come before and their diving through them right down to the core.
Personally I can’t wait for TDKR because of how it will plug into all this.