Even Veterans Like Leonardo DiCaprio And Guy Pearce Are Confused By Christopher Nolan’s Scripts

Look, it’s all very complicated. Nolan, who writes or co-writes his own screenplays, is clearly very interested in the flow of time, and the strange function of chronology. Most of his films play with the perception of time, sometimes directly. His 2014 space opera “Interstellar” features several time travel conceits. In one scene, a team of astronauts explores a planet for merely an hour while a year elapses for their compatriot in orbit. In another, the main character sees himself able to peer backward in time through a surreal temporal nexus. Nolan’s 2017 war film “Dunkirk” told the story of the famed British soldier evacuation over three separate timelines, with one plot taking a week, one taking a day, and one taking an hour. 

Even his 2000 film “Memento,” starring Guy Pearce, played with chronology as a function of memory. The protagonist of that film suffered from chronic severe memory loss, forgetting huge amounts of information after only a few minutes. To denote this, Nolan films the events in reverse, telling the story in vignettes that begin at end of the story and work their way to the beginning. 

Audiences and critics have a devil of a time synopsizing Nolan’s films as a result of his temporal fixation, and some might even have trouble understanding them as they elapse. (Personally, I still can’t suss out the physics of “Tenet.”) It seems Nolan’s own actors also have trouble working things out, and several of them have gone on record admitting they didn’t understand the scripts at all. 

In a 2020 video interview with GQ, Pearce admitted that he needed a note on his script explaining that “Memento” all goes backward. 

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