Mement-who? The six Christopher Nolan films everyone at UCL must see

Chris Nolan, famous UCL alumnus, has steadily become an icon in the world of films. The Buzz takes a look his work from the famous to obscure.

Batman Christopher Nolan Films Inception ucl

As one of our most famous alumni, Chris Nolan has steadily become an icon in the world of films. But while most people will know his name, it is not the same story for all of his films.


Many people will have heard of Nolan from both the Batman series and the blockbuster Inception. These however are far from the only outstanding films that he has directed, and so to get a full picture of Christopher Nolan the following must be watched:

1. ‘Memento’ (2000)

Memento can be seen as Nolan’s breakthrough work and where he first showed his skill as a clever director. The film tells the story of Leonard Shelby, a man who suffers from anterograde amnesia, a condition that leaves him unable to have new memories.
Nolan uses the amnesia angle to great effect and always has the audience unsure of what part of the timeline each scene is actually in as he plays around with the time order of scenes. Ultimately the theme of the film is that: ‘Memory is not reliable and can’t be trusted. Memory can be bent and distorted. It is an interpretation.’

2. ‘Batman Begins’ (2005)

The beginning of both the rebooted Batman trilogy and Nolan’s working relationship with actor Christian Bale, Batman Begins was probably Nolan’s first ‘blockbuster’ film. Trying to move away from some of the slightly comic and rather bad Batman films of the nineties, Batman Begins was a whole lot darker and more serious. Telling the story of Bruce Wayne’s rise from a disillusioned playboy to ruthless vigilante, the film brought Batman into modern times and started the trend for ‘gritty’ reboots. While an excellent film in its own right, you do get the sense that the main point of the film was to set it up for a sequel.

3. ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

Starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, The Prestige once again shows Nolan’s strengths in creating a thought-provoking and clever film. The movie follows two rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century, showing both their rivalry and their increasingly desperate measures to outdo each other. With roles for both Michael Caine and David Bowie, and a plot that has philosophical themes as well as dramatic, The Prestige is in my opinion the most underrated of all Nolan’s films and should not be missed.

4. ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

With Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman and Heath Ledger starring as the ultimate villain The Joker, The Dark Knight is a film of huge ambition and pulls pretty much all of it off. From epic set piece shots to emotional character development scenes, The Dark Knight has it all. Ultimately though, the best bit of the film is Heath Ledger’s truly amazing performance as the twisted and disturbed Joker, adding a layer of menace and violence to a role that had been missing in other Batman films.

5. ‘Inception’ (2010) Perhaps one of the best recent science-fiction flicks, Inception takes the concept of dreaming and explores it in a way never imagined to many audiences. Introducing the ideas of shared dreaming and the taking and placing of information from another person’s dream, this film is a constantly tense thriller and in many ways action movie. Not only were parts of it filmed right here at UCL (see university scenes), but it also helped to launch the careers of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and British actor Tom Hardy on a global scale.

6. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (coming July 2012)

This has been confirmed as the ending to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and with the success of the previous two films it can be guaranteed that this will be amazing. With Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman for the final time, and Tom Hardy cast as the mysterious bad guy Bane, the ground is set for an epic final showdown. While there have only been a couple of trailers and a four minute prologue released so far, even from these it is clear to see that this is going to be something special.