You can’t fully appreciate a Christopher Nolan film in a single viewing.
We all know what to expect from a Christopher Nolan film, literally and thematically, yet we can’t stop rewatching his work.
It’s well-established that his movies are puzzles that use non-linear storytelling to disorient the viewer. Even though we know some trademark final reveal is coming and will pay itself off big time in the end, we’ve grown to appreciate the process of his work and how incredibly rewatchable it makes his films. There’s no possible way you can get it all in a single viewing.
Nolan’s endings are always the same in that they clear some things up, but leave others up to interpretation and intense speculation. While you know it is in your best interest to not trust Leonard Shelby in Memento, you were still blown away by who Sammy Jankis was. The same thing applies when Miranda Tate re-introduces herself at the end of The Dark Knight Rises. Is Dom Cobb’s top really spinning at the end of Inception? If you watch it one more time will you find the definitive clue?
What Nolan does isn’t unique. To some degree, it exists in any great movie. There’s a reason Will Ferrell comedies are funnier the second time through. You pick up on the subtle improvised dialogue, jokes you missed because you were still laughing from the previous. The same thing happens with Quentin Tarantino films as well. The witty dialogue and the barrage of pop culture references often get lost beneath the over-the-top violence on first watch.
Whether you’re looking for visual cues or verbal clues to something you didn’t quite see before, surely, there is at least one of Nolan’s films that resonate with you in this manner. While I’ve seen Memento, The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar a handful of times, there is a reason my go-to movie of his is The Prestige, the one I deem his masterpiece.
I know every time I watch The Prestige that Alfred Borden is being performed by a pair of identical twins, just like I know Robert Angier is actually Lord Caldlow. But I learn something with every additional viewing. When Borden contemplates if he tied a slipknot or the Langford double that led to Julia McCollough’s demise, he says he can never know for sure. The viewer certainly can’t confirm which Borden twin tied what knot when. In Borden’s monologue about two men who never wanted to hurt anyone, he was referring to himself and his twin brother, not Angier.
What makes Nolan films such incredible rewatches are you will pick up on something new every time without fail. There are so many layers and so much depth, yet it’s not too overly cumbersome for you to enjoy watching it passively. The Dark Knight trilogy are still superhero movies. Interstellar is still a space adventure and The Prestige is about 19th century magicians. You’re afforded the opportunity to go as deep as you want to go with each viewing. It’s like going to the gym or going on a run. How hard do you want to go today? That’s entirely up to you and how devoted you are to getting the most out of your two hours.
The other great part about Nolan movies is that they’re essentially timeless in nature. They exist in a place and time where you’re always welcomed to come back and visit. So as you the viewer and age progress through life, maybe your experiences in the years between viewing change your perspective on how Nolan goes about revealing the twist or which clues seem most obvious.
Maybe you’ve learned to watch a little more closely?
For more Christopher Nolan, explore the Nolan Week hub on FanSided.com.