The question of whether or not Christopher Nolan is in fact an auteur is one best saved for another day, in my opinion. What’s harder to deny is that the British director is working from a thematically consistent framework, employing a recognizable set of motifs in pretty much everything he’s made thus far. There’s urban unrest, for instance, in the last two “The Dark Knight” films, the corporeal contortion of time and space in both “Inception” and “Interstellar,” and Michael Caine in pretty much everything else. But do you know what else Mr. Nolan likes to shoot in his films? Hands. That’s right: “Hands of Nolan” is a new video essay courtesy of Vimeo’s Jorge Luengo Ruiz that takes a good look at Mr. Nolan’s frequent and often unremarked-upon focus on the human hand.
Scored to the soothing tones of a Mozart piano concerto and inspired by Kogonada’s “Hands of Bresson,” “Hands of Nolan” highlights every feature film in Nolan’s filmography, from his clammy, low-budget debut “Following” to 2014’s grand “Interstellar.” The video is a neat little collection of footage from Nolan’s impressive filmography, and it should be of interest to the director’s ardent fanbase. The question remains: Why is Nolan so fascinated with close-ups of hands? Who’s to say? One theory is that for all the high-minded narrative trickery and sleight of hand present in the screenplays that Nolan writes with his brother Jonathan, he’s actually a very literal filmmaker. He’s pretty much allergic to impressionism or dream logic, and his approach is, more often than not, clear-eyed and straightforward. The characters in Nolan’s films are ultimately defined by action and the process of doing; such is the case with Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, who drives himself to the brink of vigilante extremism, and also Guy Pearce’s doggedly determined detective in “Memento.” Could be that, or could just be that he thinks hands look cool.
In any case, check out “Hands of Nolan” below.