Christopher Nolan has emerged over the last two-plus decades as one of the most fearless and inventive visual artists working at the studio level. Much of that has to do with the filmmaker finding perfect collaborators in Wally Pfister and Hoyte van Hoytema, the two cinematographers who have shot all of Nolan’s feature films to date. Pfister is a four-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner thanks to his work with Nolan (“Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Prestige,” and winner “Inception”), while Hoytema has picked up an Oscar nomination for his work on “Dunkirk.” Together, these three artists have crafted some of the most memorable images in 21st century Hollywood filmmaking.
“A lot of people say that about Chris, that he has a precision to him in storytelling,” Hoyte van Hoytema told fellow cinematographer Roger Deakins last year about Nolan’s magic. “But one of the biggest things that I learned starting to work with him and one of the things I admire about him is that he is an extremely intuitive filmmaker. He is so perceptible to the energy that is being giving to you, like weather. People are always saying you’re always so lucky with the weather, but he’s never lucky with the weather. He just shoots in any weather that is handed to him on a plate.”
Van Hoytema continued, “There are few people that are so good at making something so adequate out of a situation that occurs in front of him. He is very untouched or intimidated by things that go wrong or change very extremely. He has strong ideas what he wants and is so secure in it that in those situations he can step away from being a micromanager.”
With “Tenet” under his belt and more blockbusters sure to come in the future, IndieWire dives into Nolan’s career through the shots that define his aesthetic.