The Fictional Christopher Nolan
232 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: September 1, 2012
232 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
From Memento and Insomnia to the Batman films, The Prestige, and Inception, lies play a central role in every Christopher Nolan film. Characters in the films constantly find themselves deceived by others and are often caught up in a vast web of deceit that transcends any individual lies. The formal structure of a typical Nolan film deceives spectators about the events that occur and the motivations of the characters. While Nolan’s films do not abandon the idea of truth altogether, they show us how truth must emerge out of the lie if it is not to lead us entirely astray.
The Fictional Christopher Nolan discovers in Nolan’s films an exploration of the role that fiction plays in leading to truth. Through close readings of all the films through Inception, Todd McGowan demonstrates that the fiction or the lie comes before the truth, and this priority forces us to reassess our ways of thinking about the nature of truth. Indeed, McGowan argues that Nolan’s films reveal the ethical and political importance of creating fictions and even of lying. While other filmmakers have tried to discover truth through the cinema, Nolan is the first filmmaker to devote himself entirely to the fictionality of the medium, and McGowan discloses how Nolan uses its tendency to deceive as the basis for a new kind of philosophical filmmaking. He shows how Nolan’s insistence on the priority of the fiction aligns his films with Hegel’s philosophy and understands Nolan as a thoroughly Hegelian filmmaker.
I am hugely impressed with this book and strongly recommend it. Not only is this the most important work to date on Christopher Nolan, it also numbers among the very best of Todd McGowan’s already impressive list of monographs. This book will have appeal to general readers with an interest in film studies, as well as specialists invested in psychoanalytic theory (especially Lacan) and continental philosophy. This is precisely the kind of book I would require in a graduate seminar or upper-division undergraduate capstone course. As with all of Todd McGowan’s work, the book makes important but very difficult theories accessible, while not sacrificing complexity or sophistication. This is a troublesome balancing act, but McGowan makes it seem easy. Intellectually, this work is a thrill to read.~Hugh S. Manon, Associate Professor and Director of Screen Studies, Clark University
- Introduction: The Ethics of the Lie
- Chapter 1. The Snare of Truth: Following and the Perfect Patsy
- Chapter 2. Memento and the Desire Not to Know
- Chapter 3. The Dirty Cop: Insomnia and the Art of Detection
- Chapter 4. The Banal Superhero: The Politicized Realism of Batman Begins
- Chapter 5. The Violence of Creation in The Prestige
- Chapter 6. The Hero’s Form of Appearance: The Necessary Darkness of The Dark Knight
- Chapter 7. A Plea for the Abandonment of Reality in Inception
- Conclusion: Lying without Consequence