Monday, 26 July 2010

Christopher Nolan, Chronicler of the Broken-Hearted

So, I got around to watching Inception yesterday, and while thinking about the plot and reading a few of the reviews of the movie, it struck me that a lot of Christopher Nolan's movies Memento onwards seem to deal with the same sort of male protagonist - white, heterosexual, broody, bit of a loner, doing some kid of work that's illegal or at least unconventional - and said protagonist is usually trying to deal with the end of a relationship (mainly romantic, though Insomnia, which I never got around to seeing but which I looked up on IMDB for this post, deals with the end of a different sort of relationship). In fact, if you put the movies in chronological order, you get something like 'The 6 Stages of Dealing with Break-ups' as visualized by Christopher Nolan. Consider:
  1. Memento: Having just seen the end of the relationship, the male protagonist (henceforth MP) is filled with anger at the world at large, generally withdraws into himself and his memories of the relationship he had, and is so caught up in the past that he is hardly aware of the present.
  2. Insomnia: Haven't seen the movie, but the title fits.
  3. Batman Begins: The MP decides that he must try to get back together with the woman by attempting to become a better person. He picks up a few new hobbies, spends time with a few male friends (mainly Michael Caine), tries to feel better by working out, eating right, and asserting his alpha-male-ness
  4. The Prestige: MP is still troubled by the end of the relationship, although it's been a while since it ended. He is desperate to find a clear reason, and someone other than himself to blame for the collapse. He throws himself into his work (mainly with Michael Caine), has a dalliance on the side, but deep down is still really pissed-off
  5. The Dark Knight: Much time has passed, and although the MP still has a thing for the woman and is hoping his new hobbies will prove that he's the guy for her, he sees that she's moved on. He decides to be the better man, supporting her and the new beau (of course by the end of the movie, the new beau is at the Memento stage) (And yes, the mentoring from Michael Caine continues)
  6. Inception: Although the woman is no longer part of his life, MP still has memories of their relationship, and realizes that deep down he blames himself for the fact that it ended. The only way to move on is to forgive himself, which he eventually does, and thus finds peace. And, need I say it, there's more Michael Caine here, although fittingly, since the MP realizes that he needs to look within for peace, he needs less of Caine's mentoring at this point.
Going by this evidence, I expect the next Batman movie to involve Bruce Wayne deciding that he's had enough of getting into relationships that end messily and cause a lot of pain to all involved, plus he's really busy with work, and so he's going to just get hitched to a nice, homely girl. Chosen for him by (you guessed it!) Michael Caine.


  1. Hehe. Now this is a unique take on Nolan's oeuvre!

    Thinking of doing an Inception-related post myself.

  2. well all his heroes really do seem to have messed-up love lives.
    Let's see what you come up with.