5 Films That Inspired Christopher Nolan's Cinematic Style

What kinds of films does a master of so many genres get inspired by?

Christopher Nolan undoubtedly has one of the most impressive and diverse filmographies in cinematic history. The three-time Oscar nominee has directed films from a wide variety of different genres, including sci-fi adventure films (Interstellar, Inception), neo-noir/psycho/mystery thrillers (Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige), superhero flicks (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), and of course, his precious neo-noir crime drama, Following.

As we can see from his films, Nolan is not afraid to experiment, to think outside the box, or take big chances on what Hollywood would consider risky content, but he's certainly not the first of his kind. In this video from Fandor, you can definitely see where his inspiration comes from as he names five of his favorite films. 

Unlike directors like Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, and Terrence Malick, it's really difficult to really pin down Christopher Nolan's creative style. In other words, it's much harder to watch a film and immediately be able to say, "Yep, this is totally a Christopher Nolan film." However, his films are unique in more subtle ways, their DNA written not necessarily with visual elements, but his signature structural, narrative, and cinematic elements, all of which tend to push the boundaries of the medium.

Even a cursory glance at his list of favorite films reveals how greatly they influenced his work. The experimentation of Kubrick and Reggio, the attention to architecture, and the juxtaposition of humanity and technology, of the natural and the artificial, of peace and war all echo Nolan's creative sensibility.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey; dir. Stanley Kubrick (1968)
  • Koyaanisqatsi; dir. Godfrey Reggio (1982)
  • The Thin Red Line; dir. Terrence Malick (1998)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me; dir. Lewis Gilbert (1977)
  • Blade Runner; dir. Ridley Scott (1982)

Which films directed by Christopher Nolan inspire you as a filmmaker? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment


What is so intriguing of Nolan is his attention to the story and its structure. Kubrick or Anderson have a clear visual style, Nolan is more flexible; maybe you can seehis visual style like open frames, he don't recall of any of his movies being asfixiating. I read somewhere that Nolan would be a very good DP.
My favourite is Inception, outstanding in every aspect.

June 26, 2017 at 5:37AM, Edited June 26, 5:37AM

Abi Stricker

Personally I love Nolan, but I think he needs a new editor. His films never have long shots to let actors performances live. I find myself seeing cuts in his movies more than I do in anyone elses films. I think Interstellar did have some of these moments though - and its why I think it's his best flick.

June 26, 2017 at 7:15AM, Edited June 26, 7:16AM

doman nelson
Director, Editor

The Prestige and Interstellar, no doubt. The Prestige gets overlooked way too much but it is one of his finest and best films.

June 30, 2017 at 8:33PM, Edited June 30, 8:33PM

Vic Barrett
Screenwriter l Unit Stills Photographer l Beginner Filmmaker