As the countdown to “Inception” hits seven days and the nail-biting stage begins, I think it’s a perfect time to look back on the career of Christopher Nolan. Today is the kick-off for a week long celebration of the director. I’ll review all of Nolan’s movies leading up to Friday, where I will offer my take on “Inception.” In addition, I hope to take a look at some of Nolan’s influences, reviewing those movies with particular attention to how they shaped one of the most influential directors of our time.
And it all starts here with the “F.I.L.M. of the Week,” Nolan’s first film, “Following.” It’s a very modest debut in terms of scale; it stars no one you know and is nowhere near as flashy as “The Dark Knight.” To put Nolan’s success in perspective, “Following” was budgeted at $6,000. ”Inception” cost $175 million to make. Yet it’s interesting to watch this movie now, twelve years after its release, and see how it set the stage for some of the themes Nolan would choose to explore as a filmmaker.
The film follows a young writer in London, so desperate to find a story that he begins following random people for inspiration – yet another Nolan character living outside the lines. He begins to set rules to avoid being pulled into darkness and obsession, but eventually these rules begin to fade away as he follows a fascinating and wealthy man.
The man, Cobb, confronts him and introduces him to a world of burglary for a more psychological than material effect. Before long, the young writer is completely drawn in, consistently accompanying Cobb for robberies. In typical Nolan fashion, nothing is really as it seems. Much like “Memento” and “The Prestige,” the movie leads you in one direction and then yanks the rug out from under you in the climactic moments.
It’s amazing how Nolan’s artistic vision and commitment to keeping suspense so taut can still shine in such a small movie. I hadn’t even heard of “Following” before today, but it packs as much power in its 70 minutes as any of Nolan’s other movies. Because it is incredibly obscure, the only way I was able to watch it was online. I want you all to experience Nolan as well, so I took the liberty of embedding the Google Video below. You can enjoy “Following” without even leaving this blog.