Musical Patterns in the Films of Christopher Nolan


Oswald Iten


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Christopher Nolan strives to make his films the most immersive experience possible. So he prefers the score to support the atmosphere and the pace of his films and not elicit emotions by way of sentimental melodies. While this is very obvious in DUNKIRK (2017), Hans Zimmer’s lauded score follows some of the same basic patterns that can be found in all of Nolan’s prior films – regardless of the composer. He even said that it basically “is Chris Nolan’s score” (

So here is a tour d’horizon on these musical patterns and their evolution from FOLLOWING (1998) to INTERSTELLAR (2014). Of course, this is only a broad, subjective overview. It is impossible to do justice to the many complexities of each individual score within 10 minutes.