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October 8, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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The Tale Of One Director, A Gullible Cinephile & The Tears That Were Shed

Christopher Nolan broke my heart.


When I was young and impressionable I used to believe that Christopher Nolan epitomised intelligent filmmaking.To me his scripts appeared to be rife with philosophical gems, his camera was a magical instrument toying with my perceptions, and his worlds were elaborately constructed masterpieces. In short, Nolan’s films appeared to be transformative journeys into the mind and society. This year, all that changed. Suddenly all I could see were the faults and egregious oversights, whilst the magic seemed to have been swept away. I had fallen out of love with Christopher Nolan.

Films have always been my passion, but I used to struggle to truly connect with any one director’s works. In my childhood, Michael Bay blockbusters would suffice, but in my adolescent search for meaning in life I looked to films that (supposedly) had substance. You can imagine my joy then when I found a filmmaker who seemed to masterfully intertwine entertainment with intelligence. My love affair with Christopher Nolan began.

I would eagerly extoll the virtues of Inception to anyone who would listen, spend my evenings endlessly re-watching Memento and recite all of the Joker’s lines in an embarrassing impersonation of Heath Ledger. All of the answers to life’s greatest problems could be found within the bounds of Nolan’s camera lens. I was in a state of bliss.

Then, in 2012, my idolatry was torn asunder by a little film called The Dark Knight Rises.When Salient‘s Arts Editor informed me that it was a pile of shit I remained in denial, insisting that it was merely the ramblings of an elitist.Then I saw it. I loathed the film, because it appeared to be the most self-indulgent piece of tripe I’d ever been subjected to.The dialogue was hammy, the music was thudding and overbearing, the plot was riddled with basic lapses in logic, whilst the editing was breathless and jarring. It was a lumbering beast, devoid of soul or technical proficiency. It wasn’t just the overt problems with the film’s construction; the political sub-text of fascism and the terrors of the 99 per cent also rankled my liberal sensibilities. I left the cinema in a state of despair, with all of my preconceptions having been utterly smashed.

This horrendous experience prompted a dark period of internal reflection. Was Rises merely an aberration or had I been missing something? After many long nights of repeated Batman Begins viewings, I realised that Rises was not an isolated incident. On closer inspection all of his characters resembled ciphers, designed only to spew half-baked morality and philosophy. Instead of grandeur I saw that his films merely provide us with scale; immense spaces that are devoid of spectacle and fail to inspire awe.What before had seemed to be skilful manipulations of the medium, turned out to be one-dimensional gimmicks.There was simply no end to the flaws. I began to peruse blogs from other disaffected lovers, where we shared stories of our betrayal. I shrieked, I seethed, I wept.The dream was well and truly over.

Chris Nolan, once I admired you as the godfather of modern filmmaking. I thought you were one of the most inventive and original filmmakers of this generation, but it was all a carefully woven lie. I’ll never love another director again. ▲

Gerald is Salient’s film editor for 2012. He is a second-year BA/BCA student studying history, political science and economics.    

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  1. Adam says:

    “When Salient‘s Arts Editor informed me that it was a pile of shit I remained in denial, insisting that it was merely the ramblings of an elitist”


  2. Gerald says:

    You know you are, Adam.

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