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Christopher Nolan: This is why his films are not linear

With the release of Oppenheimer, the non-linearity of Christopher Nolan’s films has returned to talk. The director explained why

The world of Italian cinema is eagerly awaiting what promises to be one of the most successful films of 2023. We are clearly talking about Oppenheimer, a film centered on the story of J Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who led to the development of the atomic bomb. Unfortunately Italy is, at least for now, cut off from the first impressions that the film is making in other parts of the world, given that here the film will arrive only August 23rd. The release of this new project has rekindled old questions about Nolan’s style. First among all: why don’t his stories often follow a linearity of time? It is the director himself who answers this question.

Christopher Nolan: This is why his films are not linear

A new era for non-linear films | Christopher Nolan: that’s why his films are not linear

Twisted and non-linear plots are now a trademark for the director who, after films such as Tenet e Dunkirk, just to mention the most recent, has made this style a distinctive trait. Needless to deny that anyone who is aware of his way of making cinema already knows what to expect in front of his new film. Nolan himself dwelled on his habit of creating films with this feature. He confessed:

I don’t see films in terms of a balance between simplicity and complexity, I rather think that everything has to do with mystery. Our expectations of movies have been shaped by the way television delivers storytelling, and sometimes it’s not the best. So I often use non-chronological structures, non-linear structures. It was a method that was practiced a lot in the silent era, in the first sound films, until the arrival of television. Then television has imposed a more linear approachsimpler, because of the way we watched shows from the 1950s onwards.

In short linear films would have caught on precisely because of their simplicity. After all, on the small screen (until a few years ago, the only way to watch films other than the cinema), the films flow without the possibility of stopping or going back. The understanding of the plot therefore had to be direct, easy and fast; a linear plot has always been perfect for this purpose. But now, with the advent of streaming, things could definitely change. Nolan himself is convinced of this:

With the arrival of Home Video, and now with streaming, we can be more adventurous, because you can look at something, you can stop it, you can rewind, take a look at it. Now we can do more complicated narratives.

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Magdalena Skrok is an accomplished writer who delves into the realm of new movies and TV series. With an unwavering passion for cinematic storytelling, Magdalena keeps readers informed about the latest releases, upcoming projects, and exciting developments in the world of entertainment.