It is often noted that in filmmaking, audience identification with the characters is fundamental to successful filmmaking. Movies and cinemas that have been credited for being successful sublimely invite the audience to participate in the mental awareness of the characters. For example, according to Williams, in an article on Filmmaking, 95% of the time in movie theatres the sensory receptions of audiences are tuned into the movie’s visuals and sound. The audience gets emotionally involved in the decisiveness of the characters, and this is credited to how filmmakers portray it. Christopher Nolan is a poised film director who has overseen the production of several box office movies in the United States and Europe. His particular prowess is in character identification which he allows the audience to associate with the characters to bring out the themes of the movie. As such, there is need to intently analyze the famous director and how his talent in character identity is one of his tools of the trade in the filmmaking industry.
Character identity can be described as the technique in which movie makers use sound, thematic camera tricks and visuals to engage the audience with the thematical background of the movie. Based on Christopher Nolan movies, it is clear that character identity is what most audience members associate with the most compared to other films. In the film industry, according to William, there are numerous ways in which a film director can achieve character identity in any movie. Among them include physical suturing, emotional suturing and moral suturing.
Physical suturing involves the employment of camera and sound techniques to put the audience into the real moment of the movie. There are several ways in which these are achieved among them see the protagonist with the point of view shots or over the shoulder shots (Labuza). The camera tricks in The Dark Knight Rises (2008) is among the movies that Christopher Nolan has used to create an identity with the character. For example, most of the conversation moments where the main character, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) converses with the enemy Bane (Tom Hardy) to create a bright outlook on the morality of the situations. Most of the time, Batman is seen arguing with Bane about the decisions he is making regarding his vigilante ideologies. The conversations from a physical suturing point of view are argumentative from a morality point of view. On one end, it can be argued that Christopher Nolan uses the camera over Batman’s shoulder to envision the audience as morally right while those on the other end to be morality unjust (Mooney). Such camera tricks can be demeaning considering that Batman and Bane were both standing up for something. Nonetheless, the ability to make the audience associate more with Batman and not Bane is a director’s success story in luring the audience towards certain thought-crossed mindfulness.
Other aspects of physical suturing entail the use of long extensive takes to stimulate us being in the room and watching from a distance. In most cases, from a personal point of view, the reason for this is to engage the audience, heightening the senses and increase the audience’s nervousness at the moment (Molloy). Alderson concurs that character emotional development can lead the audience to an emotional development parallel to the main character. As a result, it leads to a transformation of the audience and the cast (Mooney). In Inception (2010) the science fiction movie takes the audience through a wild-vigilante synopsis where a thief takes it upon himself to steal corporate secrets. As the plot thickens, the main character comes at a crossroad where he either has to decide whether he needs to continue with his quest and harm others or stop but, render himself guilty of past mistakes. The intense moment of thoughtfulness is quenched through the 360-camera motion of the moment that the main character has to decide on his fate. Emotional development is a critical movement in any role which any human being is aware of and has to associate with on a deeper level. As a result, a fascination is noted and creates a robust human bond or element with the audience; thus, character identification.
Regarding physical suturing, aspects such as visual and narrative gaps are signature to Christopher Nolan. He is noted to use such narratives, mostly at the beginning and at the end of a movie to disassociate the character from real life (Mooney). The aspect of emotional development is critical in any movie, and the ability of a director to bring it out is noteworthy. Mostly, these are connected with romantic and loving gestures within the characters. In Memento (2000), a film about a husband in search of his wife’s killer confronts his demons and discovers who killed his wife. Throughout the movie, simple backflush narratives of his lovely moments with the wife allow the audience to grasp the emotional loss that he suffered as a result of losing his wife. The stories are short and sophisticated at the same time providing a quick overview of the wife’s character, who she was and how dear she was to the main character. In the end, when the audience, as well as the main character, discover that his wife died of an insulin overdose provides an image of how innocent people die for no reason due to the bad in the world (Labuza). Such attention to detail can only be brought out by film directors like Christopher Nolan.
Moral suturing is a success factor where issues of conflict of value arise from a universally chosen audience (William). Conflict in values is often a common factor in the real world and how directors can hold the audience questions what is right and what is wrong is necessary. Successful moral suturing is based on the writing and the story structuring technique that is commonly referred to as “moral premise.” Christopher Nolan in his movies has been able to bring out the moral premises. Insomnia (2002) is one of the best films that bring out the issue of morality and emotional change in characters which the audience can associate with both at the beginning and the end. The plot in the movie is about a murder that occurred in a small town in Alaska, and two elite detectives are sent to aid in the investigation. Throughout the film, the audience can take notice that most of the crimes committed in the town were never lawfully prosecuted and the criminals still roamed the streets. Following the characters throughout the movie, LAPD detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart as well as the local police bring out issues about morality and doing what is right or adhering the criminal code of staying silent.
However, this is not the case throughout because Christopher Nolan may have lost a sensibility in what morality is when the LAPD detectives become cruel to the criminals which in the modern world is considered police brutality. It poses the question whether Christopher Nolan wanted to expound on the issue of police and authority and limitations to the power or, is it because it was a small unknown town that the LAPD police could do as they please with no repercussions? The evidence is clear that most of the local police were corrupt but, the ability of the local police to change the character and develop an emotional response to consequences of their actions becomes the highlight of the movie. According to Alderson, filmmakers can induce an emotional connection between the audience and the characters through scenes (Molloy). The scene development at the end where the local police decide to take in the criminals liable for the murder brings out a sense of turning back to what is right from a human perspective.
Character identity through emotional suturing is often referred to as the process in which movie directors use characters to develop emotional aspects. This includes generation of sympathy, jeopardy, and relatability with the audience. As mentioned throughout the paper, Christopher Nolan has been able to generate emotion through two ways: emotional change and emotional development (Kiss). In Dark Knight Rises at the end, where Batman has to decide on who to save, it is clear that he chooses the man instead of the woman he has developed feelings for throughout the movie. The point of this, from a personal analysis, is that emotional change can be heroic or unwise. It is clear from an audience perspective that Batman should have chosen the love of his life, but he ended up choosing his ‘enemy in love.’ The decision has a clear consequence where the man is distraught that Batman did not choose her and he ends up feeling guilty for this. The man is forced to become the villain despite it being clear that his moral bearing was for the heroic gesture. Emotional change is critical for any character development as well as identity (Kiss). Since then, the squeals in Batman movie series, the man is regarded as a villain and not a hero. It can be argued that in the director’s main pick is to ensure that character development and change from an emotional perspective is always in favor of the good. But, according to Christopher Nolan movies, this is not the case. In Dark Knight Rises, Insomnia and Memento, some of the good characters have ended up being villains. This poses questions on the viability of character identity in movies through emotional depiction.
Christopher Nolan is an incredible movie director who has overseen the production of several movies. As such, there is one thematic factor that the director uses, and that is character identity. The paper has provided a delineation of the character identification aspects that the director, Christopher Nolan uses in his ability to endorse a movie. Elements of physical, emotional and moral suturing are among the tenets used in connecting with the audience. As a result, he has been able to produce the most revered and box office movies that are monumental in the current century.
Williams, D. Stanley. How Filmmakers Connect with Audiences. Movie Outline. 2018. Accessed from http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/how-filmmakers-connect-with-audiences.html
Alderson, Martha. Connecting with Audiences through Character Emotions. Writers Score. 2018. Accessed from https://www.writersstore.com/connecting-with-audiences-through-character-emotions/
Mooney, Darren. Christopher Nolan: A Critical Study of the Films. McFarland Company, 2017.
Molloy, Claire. “Christopher Nolan and Indie Sensibilities.” Revue française d’études américaines, vol. 2, 2013, pp. 40-51.
Kiss, Miklós. “Narrative Metalepsis as Diegetic Concept in Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).” Film and Media Studies, vol. 5, 2012, pp. 35-54.
Labuza, Peter. “Billion Dollar Noir: Christopher Nolan and the Reconstruction of Film Noir in Hollywood.” n.d.