List of the Most Fascinating Quotes from Christopher Nolan’s Movies

List of the Most Fascinating Quotes from Christopher Nolan’s Movies

About Christopher Nolan:

Christopher Edward Nolan CBE (/ˈnoʊlən/; born 30 July 1970) is a British-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films have grossed more than US$5 billion worldwide, and have garnered 11 Academy Awards from 36 nominations. (Christopher Nolan)

Born and raised in London, Nolan developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. After studying English literature at University College London, he made his feature debut with Following (1998). Nolan gained international recognition with his second film, Memento (2000), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. (Christopher Nolan)

He transitioned from independent to studio filmmaking with Insomnia (2002), and found further critical and commercial success with The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), The Prestige (2006), and Inception (2010), which received eight Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. This was followed by Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017), and Tenet (2020). He earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for his work on Dunkirk. (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan’s films are typically rooted in epistemological and metaphysical themes, exploring human morality, the construction of time, and the malleable nature of memory and personal identityHis work is permeated by mathematically inspired images and concepts, unconventional narrative structurespractical special effects, experimental soundscapes, large-format film photography, and materialistic perspectives. He has co-written several of his films with his brother Jonathan, and runs the production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas. (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan has received many awards and honoursTime named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015, and in 2019, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to film. (Christopher Nolan)

Early life

Nolan was born in Westminster, London, and grew up in Highgate. His father, Brendan James Nolan, was a British advertising executive who worked as a creative director. His mother, Christina (née Jensen), was an American flight attendant who would later work as an English teacher. Nolan’s childhood was split between London and Evanston, Illinois, and he has both British and US citizenship. He has an elder brother, Matthew, and a younger brother, Jonathan, also a filmmaker.  (Christopher Nolan)

Growing up, Nolan was particularly influenced by the work of Ridley Scott, and the science fiction films 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977). He began making films at age seven, borrowing his father’s Super 8 camera and shooting short films with his action figures. These films included a stop motion animation homage to Star Wars called Space Wars. (Christopher Nolan)

He cast his brother Jonathan and built sets from “clay, flour, egg boxes and toilet rolls.” His uncle, who worked at NASA building guidance systems for the Apollo rockets, sent him some launch footage: “I re-filmed them off the screen and cut them in, thinking no-one would notice”, Nolan later remarked. From the age of eleven, he aspired to be a professional filmmaker. Between 1981 and 1983, Nolan enrolled at Barrow Hills, a Catholic prep school in WeybridgeSurrey, run by Josephite priests. In his teenage years, Nolan started making films with Adrien and Roko Belic. Nolan and Roko co–directed the surreal8 mm Tarantella (1989), which was shown on Image Union, an independent film and video showcase on the Public Broadcasting Service. (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in Hertford HeathHertfordshire, and later read English literature at University College London (UCL). Opting out of a traditional film education, he pursued “a degree in something unrelated … because it gives a different take on things.” He chose UCL specifically for its filmmaking facilities, which comprised a Steenbeck editing suite and 16 mm film cameras. Nolan was president of the Union’s Film Society, and with Emma Thomas (his girlfriend and future wife) he screened 35 mm feature films during the school year and used the money earned to produce 16 mm films over the summers. (Christopher Nolan)

Personal life

Nolan is married to Emma Thomas, whom he met at University College London when he was 19. She has worked as a producer on all of his films, and together they founded the production company Syncopy Inc. The couple have four children and reside in Los AngelesCalifornia. Protective of his privacy, he rarely discusses his personal life in interviews.  (Christopher Nolan)

However, he has publicly shared some of his sociopolitical concerns for the future, such as the current conditions of nuclear weapons and environmental issues that he says need to be addressed. He has also expressed an admiration for scientific objectivity, wishing it were applied “in every aspect of our civilization.” Nolan made a donation to Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign in 2012, and he serves on the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) Board of Governors. (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan prefers not to use a mobile phone or an email address, saying, “It’s not that I’m a Luddite and don’t like technology; I’ve just never been interested … When I moved to Los Angeles in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path.” In an interview with People in December 2020, Nolan confirmed he does not have an email or a smartphone, but has a “little flip phone” that he takes with him from time to time. (Christopher Nolan)

Filmmaking

Nolan’s films are often grounded in existential and epistemological themes, exploring the concepts of time, memory, and identity. His work is characterised by mathematically inspired ideas and images, unconventional narrative structuresmaterialistic perspectives, and evocative use of music and sound. Guillermo del Toro called Nolan “an emotional mathematician”. (Christopher Nolan)

BBC‘s arts editor Will Gompertz described the director as “an art house auteur making intellectually ambitious blockbuster movies that can leave your pulse racing and your head spinning.” Film theoristDavid Bordwell opined that Nolan has been able to blend his “experimental impulses” with the demands of mainstream entertainment, further describing his oeuvre as, “experiments with cinematic time by means of techniques of subjective viewpoint and crosscutting.”  (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan’s use of practical, in-camera effects, miniatures and models, as well as shooting on celluloid film, has been highly influential in early 21st century cinema. IndieWire wrote in 2019 that the director “kept a viable alternate model of big-budget filmmaking alive” in an era where blockbuster filmmaking has become “a largely computer-generated art form.” (Christopher Nolan)

Awards and honours

As of 2021, Nolan has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five British Academy Film Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. His films have received a total of 36 Oscar nominations and 11 wins. Nolan was named an Honorary Fellow of UCL in 2006, and conferred an honorary doctorate in literature (DLit) in 2017. In 2012, he became the youngest director to receive a hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Nolan appeared in Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. (Christopher Nolan)

Nolan was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to film. (Christopher Nolan)

Notes

Nolan has continued his collaboration with the Belic brothers, receiving a credit for his editorial assistance on their Oscar-nominated documentary Genghis Blues (1999). Nolan also worked alongside Roko Belic on documenting a safari across four African countries, organised by the late photojournalist Dan Eldon in the early 1990s

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel European Film Premiere, Leicester Square London UK, 12 June 2013, (Photo by Richard Goldschmidt)

… If you picture the story as a maze, you don’t want to be hanging above the maze, watching the characters make the wrong choices because it’s frustrating. You actually want to be in the maze with them, making the turns at their side, that keeps it more exciting … I quite like to be in that maze.” – Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan is a British-American award-winning filmmaker who participated in creating some of the most successful films in the past 20 years. With a huge commitment and undeniable talent, Nolan quickly became one of the most recognizable directors in Hollywood. (Christopher Nolan)

After his feature debut named Following (1998), Nolan gained international recognition with his second film, Memento (2000). His further critical and commercial success continues with Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Interstellar (2014), and Dunkirk(2017). (Christopher Nolan)

His latest feature film, Tenet, was released in 202 (Christopher Nolan)

Following (1998)

Christopher Nolan
  1. You can tell a lot about people from their stuff.

Cobb

  1. You take it away… to show them what they had.

Cobb

Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan
  1. We all lie to ourselves to be happy.

Leonard Shelby

  1. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are.

Leonard Shelby

  1. Memory can change the shape of a room, it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts. (Christopher Nolan)

Leonard Shelby

  1. If we can’t make memories, we can’t heal.

Leonard Shelby

Insomnia (2002)

Christopher Nolan
  1. A good cop can’t sleep because he’s missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him.

Ellie Burr

Batman Begins (2005)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Thomas Wayne

Christopher Nolan
  1. If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely. (Christopher Nolan)

Henri Ducard

  1. Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding.

Henri Ducard

  1. The training is nothing! Will is everything!

Henri Ducard

  1. Create enough hunger and everyone becomes a criminal.

Henri Ducard

  1. To conquer fear, you must become fear.

Henri Ducard

Christopher Nolan
  1. People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

Bruce Wayne

  1. I won’t kill you… but I don’t have to save you.

Batman

Christopher Nolan
  1. Justice is about harmony, revenge is about you making yourself feel better.

Rachel Dawes

  1. It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Rachel Dawes

Christopher Nolan
  1. You always fear what you don’t understand.

Carmine Falcone

Christopher Nolan
  1. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself!

Scarecrow

Christopher Nolan
  1. You start pretending to have fun, you might have a little by accident.

Alfred Pennyworth

The Prestige (2006)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Man’s reach exceeds his imagination!

Robert Angier

  1. The audience knows the truth, the world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you could make them wonder. And then you got to see something very special.

Robert Angier

Christopher Nolan
  1. The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.

Alfred Borden

  1. The sacrifice… that’s the price of a good trick.

Alfred Borden

Christopher Nolan
  1. Obsession is a young man’s game.

Cutter

  1. Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it, because, of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.

Cutter

Christopher Nolan
  1. You’re familiar with the phrase “Man’s reach exceeds his grasp”? It’s a lie. Man’s grasp exceeds his nerve.

Nikola Tesla

  1. Things don’t always go as planned. That’s the beauty of science.

Nikola Tesla

  1. Society tolerates only one change at a time.

Nikola Tesla

The Dark Knight (2008)

Christopher Nolan
  1. You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain.

Harvey Dent

  1. The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance.

Harvey Dent

Christopher Nolan
  1. Whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… stranger. Joker
  2. If you’re good at something, never do it for free. Joker
  3. Madness… is like gravity. All it takes is a little push! Joker
  4. It’s not about money… its about sending a message. Joker
Christopher Nolan
  1. Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.

Batman

Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan
  1. An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you. Cobb
  2. Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. Cobb
  3. Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange. Cobb
  4. The seed that we planted in this man’s mind may change everything. Cobb
  5. Downwards is the only way forwards. Cobb
Christopher Nolan
  1. True inspiration is impossible to fake. Arthur
Christopher Nolan
  1. You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling. Eames

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Suffering builds character.

Miranda Tate

Christopher Nolan
  1. It doesn’t matter who we are, what matters is our plan. Bane
  2. You think darkness is your ally? But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it. Molded by it. Bane
Christopher Nolan
  1. Maybe it’s time we all stop trying to outsmart the truth and let it have its day.

Alfred Pennyworth

Christopher Nolan
  1. A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended. Batman

Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Murphy’s law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen. What it means is whatever can happen, will happen. Cooper
  2. We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt. Cooper
  3. This world’s a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now. Cooper
  4. Mankind was born on Earth, it was never meant to die here. Cooper
  5. Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future. Cooper
Christopher Nolan
  1. Our survival instinct is our single greatest source of inspiration.

Dr. Mann

Christopher Nolan
  1. Accident is the first building block of evolution.

Dr. Amelia Brand

  1. Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.

Dr. Amelia Brand

Christopher Nolan
  1. Don’t trust the right thing done for the wrong reason. The why of the thing, that’s the  foundation.

Donald

Christopher Nolan
  1. I’m not afraid of death. I’m an old physicist. I’m afraid of time.

Dr. John Brand

  1. Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dr. John Brand (‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ by Dylan Thomas)

Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?

Mr. Dawson

Christopher Nolan
  1. Seeing home doesn’t help us get there.

Commander Bolton

(Christopher Nolan)

Christopher Nolan
  1. Wars are not won by evacuations.

Tommy (reading Churchill’s statement in the newspaper)

Tenet (2020)

Christopher Nolan
  1. I’m not the man they send to negotiate. Or the man they send to make deals. But I’m the man people talk to.

The Protagonist

Christopher Nolan
  1. One man’s probability of death is another man’s possibility for a life.

Andrei Sator

Christopher Nolan
  1. We’re the people saving the world from what might have been. The world will never know what could happen. And even if they did, they wouldn’t care. Because no one cares about the bomb that didn’t go off. Only the one that did. Neil

(Christopher Nolan)

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