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[–] Crom 0 points 4 points (+4|-0) ago 

I think that's a pretty fair assessment, although we do get some good characterization in The Prestige. It might just be the actors he had, but Hugh Jackman's desperation and Christian Bale's dedication really came through without dialogue.

But yeah, by and large it seems that most of Nolan's films are plot driven, rather than character driven. Even Memento, which is my favorite, is less about the character and more about plotting. Especially since he created a character that by definition never gets an arc.

It would be interesting to see what Nolan would do with a really quiet and largely-static movie. Would he step up and make characters that you could watch all day long? Or would it seem like a confused mess, as if you asked a painter to play the violin or something. That was a shitty analogy, but whatever.

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[–] contains_nutsndBOLTS [S] 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

I think it's a perfect analogy. You look at the one scene in the Dark Knight where there is absolute silence. The joker is sticking is head out the window and feverishly sucking in the sweet air of freedom and anticipating the carnage to come. It is in a sense the most silent yet also the most frantic scene in the movie.

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[–] fightforthehive 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago  (edited ago)

As I was reading this, The Prestige immediately came to mind as the exception. I remember discussing it for hours with friends after we saw it.

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[–] DrSalt 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Ok, here is what I see in your message:

  1. "Nolan's films lack subtext. It really is that simple."
  2. "they will state it plainly. The same goes for every single emotion"
  3. "There is no misdirection, lying, innuendo, or nuance."

I get this "never" and "always" absolute observation vibe. I suggest the film is Turtles All the Way Down and that there are layers and layers of themes. Only the most immediate are expressed in dialog. This is a Mythology story.

Nolan wants his characters to say exactly what they are thinking at any given time. If a character is mad at another character

First, you say "thinking", then you say "mad" - which is emotional. The Nolan Brothers original films (not Batman) are about Psyche and Learning - Memento, Inception, The Prestige, and Interstellar heavily involve subconscious and brain themes of learning, understanding, and time-shifting.

You say that at any given time thinking is immediately verbalized.

  • What about Dr. Mann's charterer in Interstellar - how does he say that he is tricking people right from the start?
  • What about Dr. Brand concealing her Love that has to be confronted by Cooper?
  • What about Professor Brand concealing his equation failure from his daughter and everyone else?
  • What about Murph stealing and wrecking her grandfather's car - when she does not directly mention it?
  • The talk of 90% truth and concealing things between Cooper and Brand?
  • The TARS discretion setting?
  • Marine murder robots who then are educated on Love and risk-taking in peaceful ventures?

All these are clues that there is more subtext to the story than the dialog. The running joke of the film is that TARS has a cue-light and vibrates to tell you he is joking -- Nolan Brothers are mocking you for thinking that the dialog is that obvious! Just like in The Prestige film the Nolan brothers are having the little boy cry because he expects the magic trick to entertain - but doesn't want it done with the bird being killed. Tesla's character in the Prestige also criticizes the audience, saying that innovation is only accepted one at a time. All this is pointing to deeper things, subconscious layers.

The bad news of Interstellar is devastating: Almost every human was killed in a war. There are no films or television, No mobile phones. The schools and professors are telling more lies than ever. All animals are dead. The earth is going to be wiped out by a blight that is killing all plants. Dust and dirt are everywhere. Kids and wives are dead from medical decline. This is not a fun future, this is Dante's Inferno!

Even people who complain that you can't hear some of the dialog of the film - the TARS cue light and vibration is mocking that. Not every conversation in loud rockets and fast situations is intended to be easily understood. Nor is the voice of old men who are fading into death on a pillow - it's not supposed to be easy to make out the "obvious lines" that people say are the only thing in the film.

It's as if Nolan wants to make sure we understand what the character is feeling and doesn't trust us to infer it by context.

How do they feel about the global war? All animals are dead and gone, farms and food without meat? The lack of films and television - that seem gone from the world? When Murph asks her brother what happened to the neighbor whose farm land was now integrated - he did not answer. When was it explicit in dialog why Cooper was not invited as a NASA pilot in the first place - and literally he had to break into NASA by cutting chains (which also serves as a metaphor of the arrogance of the teacher's at Murph's school deciding what is needed for the future in terms of Apollo book content and who goes to university)?

I think a lot of people say that the words are evidence of the film only being words. That's not proof at all. That's what I'm trying to point out: If you think the words are all there is to the story than you are not viewing things in layers. Mythology stories are all about layers.

In that famous ending to 2001, Kubrick doesn't explain anything. He just presents it, and leaves the meaning up to your own interpretation.

But Interstellar's ending you imply is the Radio Shack bookshelf. But that's not the ending. Things are left with Cooper being far away, his new wife Brand alone, and no idea exactly how the humans and robots become the extra dimension Bulk beings. Nor does Cooper verbally explain that TARS hides out in the ship room and opens the door so that Cooper can steal a ship. All this is done without explicit dialog.

Sure, I don't think about them much afterwards

A film like this will be watched multiple times as people have done with 2001. As it's only been 6 months here... people will be watching their 3rd viewing of the film in 2016, etc. Just because some don't think about the film today does not mean that interpretations will emerge years down the road from now. That's the pattern for Mythology stories.

As Roger Ebert noted in his 1968 premier of 2001: Many people couldn't even stomach sitting through the film. These were professionals in Hollywood who supposedly knew something about films! http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/2001-a-space-odyssey-1968


To describe that first screening as a disaster would be wrong, for many of those who remained until the end knew they had seen one of the greatest films ever made. But not everyone remained. Rock Hudson stalked down the aisle, complaining, “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?'' There were many other walkouts, and some restlessness at the film's slow pace (Kubrick immediately cut about 17 minutes, including a pod sequence that essentially repeated another one).

The film did not provide the clear narrative and easy entertainment cues the audience expected.


Nolan has a film about audience expectations of the writer, The Prestige, I think the Nolan brothers fully agrees with Roger Ebert's last line. People expect certain things of art. They want immediate entertainment or walk out or dismiss. The Nolan Brother's deliver those immediate things but that does not mean there is not more to the story underneath those obvious lines of dialog.

Deep films don't get digested by not thinking or not repeat viewing. This is a major theme of the poetry being repeated in the film. People didn't arrive at the understanding of 2001 by just dismissing it and not thinking about it. Books were written, conversations happened, repeat viewings and discussions took place in the decades between film release and 2015.

I've read thousands of individual comments about this film: And I do not see people talking about some of the major theme differences between 2001 and Interstellar. For one: the deepest difference is the ending aliens. You have a Dictator God who forces a man into a hotel room ("alien zoo") until old age. Then he is forced into a birth by God Aliens. He is strung around like a puppet by the Alien Gods - just as the apes are given tools like puppets at the start of the film. Interstellar has precisely the opposite message, that it is Murph/Cooper/Brand/TARS - human beings and their robot tools who are the future heroes of humanity. Humans forge the tools to save their own self, not some puppets of Alien Gods.

This might seem like a minor issue, but it's not. It's one of humanities worst misunderstandings. At the root of USA bombing the Levant from the sky (ISIS in 2015) you have two groups: Christians and Muslims who are fighting each other over the belief that God is in the Sky, an Alien who came to Earth - to give us tools - the Bible and Quran and rules to live by - delivered like a monolith message from Outside God.

Men must stand up to other men who do not realize that the proper global Islam is a Sufi Islam. Not Shia or Sunni fighting to reach an external heaven in outer space. The proper global Christianity is a Gnostic view, not Catholic or Protestant. This is echoed in the film where Professor Brand says that NASA staff refused to drop bombs from the stratosphere... and felt it was men who should stand up to men and not just follow orders like robots (or apes given tools like puppets). Cooper had to stand up to the chains of the NASA gate (NORAD nuclear facility), and Murph had to stand up to her grade school and Professor Brand's fake equation scam.

This is not a minor point. Most atheists dismiss Mohammad as a fiction writer. They are unwilling to admit that Mohammad as a fiction writer is even more popular than William Shakespeare. There is this big argument of "aliens" vs "humans" - as to who authored the Quran. It is only if you accept that the books are fiction - authored by men - like the Apollo moon landing, do you start to see the "humans helping humans" theme.

Terrorist are those who believe that Allah is an Alien and heaven is a place you can reach with a rocket. The Nolan Brothers are standing up the more popular interpretation that 2001 offers. they are also standing up to science people like Dr. Mann who are Socratic, and have no faith in human-originated Love and Compassion that comes from fiction books. In 2001, Aliens are God-like, and they gave tools to Apes and leave secret holy messages buried on the moon waiting for humans to dig up. Where Interstellar puts a heavy emphasis on age 35 of Murph and Cooper. This is a significant year in story telling and human growth. Murph reaches age 35, then stands up to both Professor Brand's equations and her brother's lung cancer issues. This is a rebirth of Murph, from learning and self-education (personal bookshelf). This distinction of God Aliens (2001) vs. Fiction learning (Interstellar) is covered at age 35 by Dante's Inferno - and explicitly discussed in Dante's Convivio. You think that story was spelled out in the dialog?

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[–] contains_nutsndBOLTS [S] 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Well, that's a response and a half.

First let me state that I only threw this post up because I knew it would get a talk going as Nolan more than any other director in recent years seems to attract debate, no bad thing in my book.

I've been extremely busy recently with my practice and every time I tried to log onto Voat recently, well you guys know what that's been like. I'd appreciate the chance to address some of the points you so cogently made in due time.

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[–] DrSalt 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Currently voat.co is not letting me edit the message due to some technical problem.

Let me basically give a tldr:

If you think that the Bible, Upanishads, Quran, Navajo Pollen Path have no "subtext", then you don't understand the meaning of subtext. A book can be entirely composed of language words - and full of subtext. 2001 may have silent scenes with only images, but that doesn't mean that the films that use more words - don't have subtext themes. "Below text" can in fact be the subconscious - which is Memento (printing tattoos on the skin of his body, but forgetting in the mind - and acting out rage and revenge), Inception, The Prestige, and Interstellar. The human subconscious is the ultimate subtext! Mythology!

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[–] Stoic 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago  (edited ago)

The OP really should respond to this excellent response in his own thread, to which I would like to add that Kubrick to me isn't the genius many portray him to be; that those adoring him are probably even worse than the Nolanites. Take the criticism of the lack in subtext in Interstellar and how Kubrick merely just presented it in 2001. In 2001 the first scene concerning monkeys to me makes it very explicit what this movie is going to be about: evolution. The shot of the monkey using his hand to use a weapon is extremely stressed with heavy music and perspective. Perhaps at the time it was released the warning about AI was profound, but it was extremely predictable when I watched it for the first time last year, with the only mysteries left being the monolith and the scene where (presumably a man representing manking) dies.

On these mysteries I'd like to use The Shining as an example of how Kubrick abuses mystery. The supernatural variable in The Shining to me cheapens the movie. Instead of the dozens of theories that try to explain this 'complex' movie, it to me is far more plausible Kubrick intended to create a film in which it was possible to create dozens of theories in the first place. Jack being put in the 1921 picture, having Charles and Delbert Grady that look exactly alike in the film, a sixth-sense/ possessed Danny and 'the Shining' itself are ploys, abusing the unfalsifiable supernatural to create a sense of complexity the story can't provide on its own. Working in a normal movie you would have to justify behavior and progression through actual and noticable variables, such that it would be strange for a person to go completely insane on the basis of being alone for a while. By using the supernatural you can justify anything you want.

While the monolith in 2001 could signify a door to the next step in evolution, a screen itself or something else, it also could have been put in there to get people to wonder what it is. Kubrick movies but especially the Shining seem incredibly sloppy and inconsistent in their use of the mystery variable, with the feeling that somehow scenes are lacking to explain for what without those scenes seem sudden jumps in character arcs or storyline, while also not being able to directly provoke questions that instead cowardly* lie concealed in plain-sight-mystery, knowing that snobs would see more into his films than there actually is. To put it more controversially and harshly (although I am less certain of this), I think it is likely Kubrick and his fans abuse (*hence cowardly) mystery to evoke a sense of grandeur and profundity that the story cannot provide on its own.

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[–] SpaceDog 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Perhaps at the time it was released the warning about AI was profound, but it was extremely predictable when I watched it for the first time last year,

That is hardly a fair criticism of the film, HAL 9000 has become such a pop-culture icon that as to be instantly recognisable, even by someone who has never seen the film.

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[–] Eysenor 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

I agree on the fact that Nolan explains a bit too much in Interstellar, at least from my point of view. I like Sci-fi to be as hard as possible since I'm a scientist and I have a good enough basic scientific knowledge that I do not need everything carefully explained to me. But the general audience is not like that so I can see the point in explaining as much as possible to make the movie enjoyable to all. No explanations lead to movies like Primer where it is impossible to follow the story. 2001 is a good point in between but still the end is just made to not be understood. I liked the 2001 book much more because Clarke actually explains what's happening in more details. You can follow but not everything is explained to you. In the movie Kubrick wants the audience to be confused and to not understand. Personally that is not even the best way to make a movie. It is a bit better than Interstellar in that sense but it might be too much. Many people will not enjoy the movie as it is and probably that is something that Nolan wants to avoid. The scale of Interstellar is also bigger so more clarification might be needed.

The thing that makes Interstellar different from 2001 is mainly the human presence and their emotions. In Sci-fi movies usually that is not in the centre of the attention as much as in Interstellar. That was something that Nolan wanted to do so the movie is a bit dragged behind by that in the pure Sci-fi part. The grand scale of the story is "reduced" by the small scale story of father and daughter, something that is not present in 2001. That can be seen as a strong point or a week one. In my opinion less sentiments should be included in a good sci-fi movie to make space for more science and the big part of the story.

Anyway at this point I still prefer Interstellar to 2001, even more after reading 2001 the book. As a movie is simply more enjoyable. If Interstellar would have been more like 2001 everyone would have complained that Nolan just copied Kubrick :D