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‘The Nolan Variations: The Movies, Mysteries, and Marvels of Christopher Nolan’ (review)

The Nolan Variations
Written by Tom Shone

ISBN: 978-0-525-65532-9
Published by Knopf


An intriguing, probing, intelligent examination of filmmaker Christopher Nolan.

Culled from interviews conducted over a number of years, The Nolan Variations delves into each of Nolan’s films, including his shorts and his latest feature, Tenet.

The book begins with Nolan’s formative years, during which he split his time between Chicago and England, having family in both locations. While in England, he attended a boarding school which both he and the author freely acknowledge had a huge impact on Nolan’s perception of the world around him.

During this period he also developed a deep fascination with stories, especially films, falling in love with the works of Kubrick and Spielberg.

Eventually wanting to try his hand at making his own films, Nolan discovered he had a real knack for it and pursued it as a vocation.

The author and Nolan thoroughly discuss each film in detail, Shone unafraid to offer differing interpretations and critiques at times.

The discussions about Nolan’s approach to ideas, whether overarching or minute, are at times completely fascinating, and truly give us a look into the mind of the man.

Whether it’s his obsession with time, architecture, classical music or myriad other subjects, Nolan brings forth a breadth of knowledge and a keen perception.

I wholeheartedly recommend the book and I enjoyed it a great deal.

I feel I must mention I am not a Nolan acolyte, nor even a fan of his work, generally speaking.

I quite liked Memento and Dunkirk, but fan favorites such as Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy left me cold.

Still, I have a lot of admiration for the man and was excited to vicariously pick his brain, and Shone’s book scratched that itch.

I would guess that readers who have been long-time devotees of Nolan’s oeuvre will get even more out of the book, but any fan of cinema and important filmmakers should find Shone’s fine book most worthwhile.


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