How ‘Following’ laid the foundation of Christopher Nolan’s films

With the arrival of his latest film, Oppenheimerto praise, Christopher Nolan Arguably the most successful director working today. No director can demand and receive a large budget to defend tentpoles that do not rely on existing properties. By this point in his career, Nolan’s insistence on his original ideas was part of the reason he was able to create a vision so vast in scale and import. Nolan has made himself a brand, and the brand is somewhere along the lines of “I make blockbuster features with an intellectual tilt.” Of course, other filmmakers still find ways to inject themes and ideas into their tentpole characters, but Nolan puts those ideas at the forefront of his films. A filmmaker obsessed with time and the lies we tell ourselves to live by, Nolan has made his films entertaining enough to be a popular hit while still maintaining a cool intellectual mood.


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Follow up

The most notable aspect of Nolan’s debut feature, Follow up, is that it remains the same theme Nolan returns to repeatedly throughout his filmmaking. It was strangely encouraging because even his film budgets ballooned due to the success of hits like The Dark Knight And The beginning, Nolan appears transfixed on the intersection of time and identity. He tries to distract his audience from the traditional sequence of events in order to show the fear and vulnerability of his characters. For Nolan, time is an invention that can bend to his will to illuminate the story of a broken man (it is always a man), who, through his brokenness, gives up on his own life or finds some acceptance that allows him to endure.

What is ‘tracking’?

following-christopher-nolan-movie-2
Image via Criterion

Released in 1998, Follow up A true independent film, and Nolan intended to make it knowing that he had almost no budget to work with. The following story, a young man (Jeremy Theobald), a struggling writer who spends his days following strangers to see where their lives will take them. His voyeurism quickly recovers when he meets Cobb (Alex Haw), a criminal who takes The Young Man under his wing. Cobb is also a voyeur of sorts, the purpose of upending the lives of his victims by (to paraphrase his twisted ethos), “show them what they have by taking it away.” The young man is fascinated by Cobb’s teachings, especially when they lead him to The Blonde (Lucy Russell), the dead woman was caught with a crime boss (Dick Bradsell).

After the establishment of films with related material The Young Man and The Policeman (John Nolan), Follow up Jumping between three periods where the young man is at the beginning of his journey, another period when he tries to emulate Cobb’s cool control and control, and three more times when he realizes that he has existed and he is trying to make it feel like a patsy. Although the film is presented visually with the same consistency of black and white, Nolan makes it easy for us to distinguish the time period based on the appearance of the young man.

This attention to detail runs throughout Follow up And why the film is surprisingly successful even as a first feature. In his commentary, Nolan explained that he knew he wouldn’t have a lot of money, so every decision in his script and direction was based on how to never show him not having a lot of money. For example, Nolan uses black and white not only because it is cheaper, but because he knows that they will be limited in the way they are lit in the scenes. When you light in color, it changes the way the film is captured, and because he’s relying more on natural light, black and white gives him more control.

‘The following theme is continued in Nolan’s later works

Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight
Image via Warner Bros

Playing with time is a great trick to bring the story to life, but not like it memory, The beginning, The starsOr Dunkirk, Follow up It’s not so much a time-consuming story as a comforting lie (an idea that Nolan returns to in memory, Honor, The Dark Knight, beginning, And Dunkirk). Great, blooming with joy Follow up is that the protagonist is a writer who does not know that he is being told a story. This film serves almost as a mission statement of the sort against mindless voyeurism. Even at the beginning of the story when the young man is following people, he is more concerned about the rules of the pursuit than the results. His excuse was that it was his writing, but he never wrote anything. Instead, he became a prey in Cobb’s game.

Even though Cobb is the “villain”, you can see the admiration Nolan has for the character. He is not only polite and well-dressed, but he is also a creator. While The Young Man fantasizes about creation, Cobb (the only named character even though it’s a pseudonym) actually does it by being an active player in his own life and the lives of others. He enjoys telling new stories, whether it’s convincing his spouse to be unfaithful to the big story he’s been put under suspicion and ultimately blaming The Young Man. To see Cobb disappear into the crowd at the end Follow up While the young man has been reduced, there are elements of darkness, but also triumph perverse. Cobb is untouchable because he directs the story rather than depending on its whims.

Control this exultation reappeared continuously through the films of Nolan, and loss of control or wrong control of one is a sign of weakness. Rarely do characters in a Nolan film simply give themselves over to unpredictability, and if anything, they thrive on chaos. Even a character like The Joker, who calls himself an “agent of chaos” is a careful planner who is two steps ahead of our heroes. It’s not until you get to 2017 Dunkirk That survival is an act of resistance breaking the boundaries of control. As Nolan gets older, he slowly learns to love letting go (as seen in The stars), but in Follow up, that is the fall of the young man. He thinks he is in control by following, but he never has any control because he is more of a follower than a leader.

For Nolan to have his ideas mapped out so clearly from his first film is remarkable. One could argue that it took him too long to grow through these ideas, but I would argue that they provide the foundation upon which the rest of his filmography rests. Yes, there are points like “Dead Wives” that should have been omitted, but I never felt like I was watching the same Nolan film even though they took time, identity, and control in different ways. I will not be confused Follow up with Honor Even thought they were playing with similar themed territory. Of course, part of that is how Nolan has grown as a filmmaker and the bigger budgets he has to play with, but it never feels like he’s painting the same picture on a larger canvas. Instead, the idea was Nolan’s starting point and he built from there. Nolan will return to the noir genre and continue to explore time, identity, and control with his next feature, which will be the filmmaker’s breakthrough work.

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