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10 Favorite Christopher Nolan Movies

June 10, 2017
7 min read

He is one of the most acclaimed directors of our time. His films encompass different genres and he has managed to create an identity for himself. The work of Nolan has always enthralled the casual as well as the more intellectual viewer. The way he manages to create stories, whether it’s from a comic book or from his own imagination, they’ve proven to be intriguing to say the least. Nolan’s films have been inspired by a variety of other films. This is evident when we look at the way in which he is able to handle different genres with ease.  Some of these films might be ones you expect while others might just surprise you. So let’s have a look at the movies that influenced Christopher Nolan‘s life and can be considered his favorite films. Please note that the list is in a random order and there is no ranking of their influence.

10. The Right Stuff (1983)

A film that had quite an influence on Ínterstellar’. The Philip Kaufman film’s biggest influence can be seen in the way the emotional and scientific aspects of the story intersect. And that’s what gives the film its human element, one that makes it instantly relatable. The influence can also be seen in the visual pattern of the film. Another similarity between the two films is in the way they handle parallel narratives. The film was screened to the cast of crew of Nolan’s epic before shooting took place.

9. Paprika (2006)

Although this is a film that Nolan hasn’t publicly admitted to being influenced by, the impact of the cult Japanese film on ‘Inception’ is hard to miss. Apart from the narrative similarities the most visible influence can be seen in the way that the film is edited. The way in which dreams affect us and how they influence us can be seen in both these films. Despite there being no admission on Nolan’s part, the impact of ‘Paprika’ is there for all to see.

8. Star Wars (1977)

Some people might find it difficult to believe that a traditional blockbuster like ‘Star Wars’ would leave an impression on a director like Nolan. But the truth is that it did. The visual grandeur and the sheer spectacle of the film went on to leave a lasting impression on Nolan. Even if there are no direct references to the 1977 film, it laid a foundation for blockbuster films made by Nolan and others. It’s difficult to guess in which film, the impact of George Lucas’ film can be seen, but it certainly impacts his thought process.

7. All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)

When talking about the great war films, this is one that definitely deserves a mention. The beauty of the film lies in the way that the film puts the people and not the combat at the forefront. By doing so, we are able to see the people behind the soldiers. Although this is one among many films that Nolan used as reference/inspiration for ‘Dunkirk’, it might have the biggest impact. This will be much clearer when Nolan’s film comes out. The thematic elements of the old and the new would surely blend and make an enriching cinematic experience. In recent interviews, the director has himself expressed his admiration for the classic.

6. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Another choice that is a bit surprising, but it is still clear to see why this film would influence Nolan. The first film in the Qatsi trilogy focuses on the United States. The different cinematic elements that are spread across the film serve as a showcase for the sheer power of cinema as a visual medium. Nolan learnt a lot from the composition of shots and use of sound in particular. This is an example of cinema in its purest form, using just visuals to express something. It also speaks of how sometimes silence can say more than words.

5. The Thin Red Line (1998)

Another example of a film that reaffirmed Nolan’s belief in cinema as a medium. The director is quoted as saying though it is based on a book, this is something that could only be done as a film. The film is said to have had a hypnotic effect on him and its influence can be seen particularly in ‘Ínterstellar’. The use of imagery and dialogue of that film was certainly inspired by Malick’s masterpiece. While Nolan may never seek to be as philosophical as Malick, he nonetheless hints at larger ideas through his films. This extends to The Dark Knight trilogy as well.

4. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

Whenever Nolan talks about this film, apart from the dazzling celluloid images, the direction etc, he uses the 1962 epic as an example of the power of film. It also happens to be one of his favorite films. It can be assumed that Nolan views this film as the best that can be offered as a cinematic experience and that is what he strives to create. As someone who continues to champion for shooting on film, we could possibly see Nolan make a film as epic David Lean did. That would make a great tribute from a fan.

3. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

It is a well known fact that Nolan is a huge fan of the Bond films. His love for ‘Ón Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ has already been documented. But, this Roger Moore might have had the bigger impact on the whole. One aspect of the franchise and the film in particular was how they incorporated real world elements into this fictional world. This is what he sought to create with The Dark Knight Trilogy and he definitely succeeded. Another element of the Bond film was the awesomeness of the stunts that were considered as cutting edge for the time. And seeing the film, it is easy to see how the suaveness of the film would dazzle a young Nolan and inspire him to create a litany of cool moments.

2. Blade Runner (1982)

Despite the different genres that he has dealt with, a lot of Nolan’s films are said to be influenced primarily by neo-noir. And for this, there is no bigger influence than ‘Blade Runner’. This impact can be seen in The Dark Knight Troligy and even ‘Ínception’ and ‘Memento’. Everything about the film would go on to influence Nolan a great deal. The use of sets and music in particular created a lasting impression on him. The ability of Ridley Scott to create a different world also had a profound impact on his fan, Nolan. And this creation of worlds is evident in Gotham City, and even in ‘Ínterstellar’. ‘Vangelis’ iconic soundtrack for the cult classic also has a direct impact on Nolan’s musical choices with Hans Zimmer. The minimalistic soundtrack and the realism of the environment is perhaps the biggest impact that ‘Blade Runner’ has had.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

The most obvious example of the influence of 2001 is considered to be in ‘Interstellar’. But, it is the one film that has possibly had the biggest impact out of them all. From the narration to the structure of the narration, everything about the film amazed Nolan when he first saw it. It would also go on to influence an aspect of Nolan’s films that are almost considered his hallmark. That is to play with the expectations of the audience. This is visible even in the more traditional structure of the superhero films that he has made. He makes you think of things you never thought of and it makes you appreciate the storytelling that much more. It is good to see that the influence of Kubrick has paid off immensely and we get to see a unique vision such as Nolan’s.

Read More: Best Christopher Nolan Movies

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