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The Fictional Christopher Nolan [Paperback]

Todd McGowan

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Book Description

1 Nov 2013
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.

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"Nolan could not have asked for a better introduction to his early career." - Choice "Todd McGowan may well be the finest film theorist currently working in the States. His work is consistently original, and he writes with a concision and lucidity that renders even the most daunting of thinkers accessible... In these pages, he sees deception as the unifying trait of Christopher Nolan's filmmaking [...] A worthwhile contribution to the literatures on both film theory and the director...It contains brilliant expositions of continental philosophy - McGowan's critiques of Heidegger and Badiou are perhaps the best I've read in recent theoretical writings on cinema - all of which are accessible to even laypeople of theory, thanks to his ever-limpid prose. But the main gift of McGowan's book - more than its close analysis of individual films, accessibility, or sheer topicality - is that it urges readers to rethink their conception of deceit as it relates to truth, showing that, as he puts it, 'the lie will set you free'." - Film International

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Look at Nolan 7 Sep 2013
By Hunter Furnish - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Nolan's work and style, so this was a great read. McGowan critically analyzes his films both individually and as subtexts to his overall filmmaking career so far. He frequently brings in philosophical ethics, especially Freud and Hegel, which can at times become challenging but is mostly well explained and understandable to those not versed in ethics. Overall, I really enjoyed this work and cannot wait to watch a Nolan film with friends and start explaining how the act of creating a fiction is really the pure representation of reaching truth. And stuff. The only downside is it stops at Inception!
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