Warner Brothers announced on 25th January that the release date of Christopher Nolan’s next film is going to be July 17, 2020. The film will open worldwide in IMAX. The amusing aspect of the announcement was that no details about the film itself was released, except that it is going to be an “event” film. We all know that Nolan is extremely secretive about his upcoming projects, so that leaves us to speculate? Let’s dig in further and make an intelligent guess about what could his next film be about.
By this point of time, I believe that every person would love to have at least one Christopher Nolan movie in their DVD shelves that completely swept them off their feet .. especially after Dunkirk. Just a quick glance at IMDb Top 250 will tell you that Nolan has legions of fans on internet — and that’s why as many as seven of his films find a place on the IMDb list. But his critics always believed that he only make decent comic book or science fiction films. With Dunkirk, he proved them wrong. He showed everyone that he is capable of making serious dramas as much as any mavericks of past or present. He now also has a Best Director Oscar nomination to his name.
At this point, the question that might be circling your mind is what is the next Christopher Nolan movie after Dunkirk going to be? Well, the better question to ask is: What do you want his new Christopher Nolan film to be? And how will the upcoming Christopher Nolan film compare with his other movies.
For a director who’s under 50 and been working for less than two decades, it blows your mind apart to think of the kind of impact he has managed to create in the world of films with his own distinctive cinematic language that has made him so popular among the general masses and a critics’ sweetheart. His films, while deeply rooted in philosophical themes with unconventional narrative structures, have astonishingly succeeded in breaking the barricades to human sensibilities across the world. Nolan’s mastery of the human psychology along with his incessant love for cinema has made him one of the most exciting modern directors working in Hollywood today.
There is a common perception that commercial cinema is churned out purely for the entertainment purposes of the general audiences which, unfortunately, is true to a large extent. Christopher Nolan’s films, however, have managed to effectively reach out to the audience’s intellectual capability without having to compromise on the commercial aspects of filmmaking. With all of that in mind, we can try to make intelligent guesses about his next film.
Will it be an Action or Sci-Fi film like ‘Inception’?
What exactly has been Nolan’s modus operandi in making films that have turned out to be remarkably successful on a consistent basis over the years? Big Budget. Big Starcast. Larger-than-life story. It is difficult to imagine that he will deviate from his oft-repeated formula for success. Having said that, considering the fact that he recently passed on the opportunity to direct James Bond film is a clear indication that he might not be interested in doing an action film as his next project. Also, considering the fact that he already has made, Inception, Interstellar and The Dark Knight trilogy, you can safely rule out any sci-fi or comic book film as his new project.
Will it be an indie project like ‘Memento’?
Nolan has a fascination for visuals and themes that are otherworldly. His command over the audiences’ thought process coupled with the power to enthrall his viewers while telling stories that are compelling, original and at times even freakish or bizarre, is sensational. He has the utmost respect for his audiences’ intelligence and doesn’t once tend to manipulate or dumb them down. Nolan regards the viewers’ role in cinema as one with indispensable power. His stories, that often seem like complex mysteries or puzzles of the human condition, demand immense participation from the audience. For instance, think of the famous hospital scene in ‘Memento’ when Leonard speaks about Sammy Jankis’ mental condition. We see Sammy sitting in his chair in the hospital. With the camera trying to zoom in, our image of Sammy is blocked in a flash with a man passing by him. The scene is then almost immediately cut to Leonard’s phone conversation but before the cut, in a split second, we see Leonard sitting in place of Sammy. Nolan brilliantly exploits that very tiny moment of weakness in the viewers’ observation power. There is an invitation to look closer into the frame as a whole.
While there is no question that Nolan values audience’s intelligence, it is unlikely that he will pass on the privilege of big budgets and big starcast that he has worked so hard to acquire. Personally, I would like to see him go small, and make a film like ‘Memento’, but clearly the word “IMAX” rules out an indie project. Also, he has time and again said that he makes his film for audiences and wants as many footfalls in theaters as possible.
Will it be a mystery drama like ‘The Prestige’?
The perceptible flamboyance in his films with concepts that are thoroughly unique and original might appear to be ostentatious or gimmicky to some. But as a matter of fact, while the main concept of his films serve the purpose of being the talk of the town even well before the release, he uses them only to tell beautiful stories that sometimes get eclipsed by the blockbuster-ish look and feel of his films. But somehow over the years, Nolan has achieved great success in fusing challenging concepts with amazing stories that are relatively simple and human at its core. ‘The Prestige’, which I believe is one of his most underrated works, is a film that talks about human sacrifice for the sake of accomplishing a true form of art. The film showed for Nolan’s brilliance as a master story-teller. The million dollar question is, will he try to make another mystery drama or even a thriller? The answer to that question might lie in the fact that he treated ‘Dunkirk’ more as a thriller than a war film. So, it is unlikely that he will make another full fledged thriller film.
What about horror or comedy?
With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has proved how versatile he can be. Though, realistically speaking, I don’t think he gravitates towards either of those genres. If you look at the list of his favorite films, none of them is either horror or comedy. The fact that he likes to write his own films, also allows me to virtually rule out the possibility that he is going to make a horror or a comedy film. Also, the word “event” rules out both horror and comedy.
Best Guess: Women-Centric Historical Drama
The word “event” points in the direction of a historical film. My guess is that the huge critical and commercial success of ‘Dunkirk’ might have inspired him to take the historical route again. Since the film is being made in IMAX, it is pretty easy to guess that the “event” is not going to be any other event, but something big and action-packed.
If there is one glaring chink in the armor of Chris Nolan, it is that all his films have been male-centric. His films, with minor exceptions, hardly have any place for women in it. Yes, he surely creates roles for them — like Murphy’s role in ‘Interstellar’ was originally meant to be a boy but he rewrote the part to be a girl — but he is yet to make a film that centers around women. In the age where more and more women centric movies are doing very well at the box office, it is perfect opportunity for Mr. Nolan to make a women-centric drama that breaks new grounds. And I am sure, after making Dunkrik, which didn’t have a single female part, he must be sick of men (I’m kidding, of course). Also, his wife Emma, who is his close collaborator, might be good influence for him to start thinking in that direction. So, while we still wait for further details on the plot, tighten you seat belts for the next Christopher Nolan movie which will release in 2020 and according to my best guess is going to be a women-centric historical drama.