Christopher Nolan: Resurrection
“Frozen cloud”. It is one of only two lines of dialogue that are used in this evocative video essay on Christopher Nolan, expertly edited by filmmaker Jeroen Verschakelen. It’s an enigmatic line, but one that hints at the dichotomy at the heart of many of Nolan’s films. On the one hand, they are cerebral narratives: meticulously constructed puzzles frozen onto film. On the other hand, they set their sights on transcendence: Nolan’s characters often try to escape the boundaries of time and space, aiming instead for the clouds.
This video essay focuses on that second characteristic. Verschakelen suggests a metaphysical undertow that runs through Christopher Nolan’s complete filmography. He does so by fashioning footage from all 11 of Nolan’s feature films into a narrative short of his own making. This video essay plays as a parable and selects images that are infused with religious iconography. Men travelling through the clouds to emerge in an otherworldly realm. Meditative silences and puzzling revelations. Characters caught in coffins, only to be brought back to life.
The brilliant editing here is evidently the result of very detailed viewings of Nolan’s movies. And it pays, because Verschakelen finds visual echoes in unexpected places. He pairs up similar settings but also simple gestures from different films, opening them up for a new interpretation. (The cut around the 2:20 mark from McConaughey opening the zipper of Damon’s cryogenic freezing bag in Interstellar to a shot of a toddler on the beach in Inception is particularly inspired). This is what videographic criticism and analysis excels at: revealing connections that escape words through the meaningful pairing of sounds and shots.
“Don’t touch them” is the second line of dialogue Verschakelen uses. That one could just as well be about his video essay. It’s a small gem that is perfect as it is.