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Christopher Nolan and the meaning behind words
Christopher Nolan and the meaning behind the words.
Christopher Nolan is an extremely successful writer. He has a net worth of 180 million dollars. (That’s a lot of Dominoes). As with all the best writers, many have tried to figure out what it is that makes him so successful with audiences. Today, I intend to explain just one of the reasons he is so popular. I also intend to show you how to incorporate this into your own writing.
To start, let’s look at what I consider to be the filmmaker’s best work. ‘The Dark Knight’. From an early age, I have been obsessed with Batman. I have always read the comics, watched the films etc. So, I don’t think it’s any small feat to say that ‘The Dark Knight’ is my favorite Batman story. This film works because it is two things at once.
On the surface, it is an amazing thrill ride of a superhero film about an unstoppable villain attacking the hero’s beloved city. Underneath the surface (or behind the words) it is a thought-provoking, well-made piece of cinema about Law and Order. It is a commentary on how fragile our society is. The way I believe this film integrates its themes so well with the main plot is through its main characters.
At the center of the film is an argument. If a city is so corrupt, so full of bad people, is it worth saving? If so, how do you go about it? There are four characters that each have a different stance on the issue. The first is Batman. He believes that if the city is corrupt, you must take the law into your hands, enacting your own form of justice. However, you can never stoop to the level of these criminals. You must be better than them and never kill.
The second is Harvey Dent. He believes that this city is worth saving and for the most part operates completely within the boundaries of the law. Of our three protagonists, he is the most morally sound.
The third is Jim Gordon. I believe that Jim acts as the middleman in this argument. He believes that the city is worth saving. He is ruthless in his fight against the Mob, but he still operates within the law, though he does not have the same respect for it that Harvey Dent does.
Finally, we have the Joker. Like Batman, he operates outside the law but he does not believe this city is worth saving. It is his goal to show the city just how pointless its rules and laws are. He attempts to show the protagonists that they are stupid to try and save the city and the way they go about it is even more idiotic.
What’s so interesting is that none of these characters are presented as entirely right or wrong. Yes, in his characteristics Joker is a villain, but in his beliefs, he is not entirely insane. Also, while Harvey is held up as the white knight of the city, it is he who is ultimately turned against his allies when Rachel is killed. Culminating in his attempt to kill Jim’s family.
With these four characters and their beliefs, the groundwork is laid. I believe this is something every writer should do. Particularly in ‘save the world’ stories you should look at why this goal should be achieved and how each character sees this goal. Flesh out each character’s motivations in the argument and you have a very interesting conflict under the surface. On the surface is where you add the plot and the world-building and all the things that make stories exciting.
As with everything in writing this is much easier said than done but it is something that when done right can make for an amazing read. Also, watch 'The Dark Knight' because it's awesome.
Thanks for reading. What do you think about this technique in writing? What is your favorite Christopher Nolan film and why? Let me know in the comments below.