The Short Films of Christopher Nolan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Produced during a break while filming his debut feature Following (1998), Christopher Nolan’s short film Doodlebug (1997) has attracted comparatively little critical attention when set against the backdrop of his feature filmmaking. Indeed, the existing discourse on Nolan’s work is overwhelmingly focused on the director’s theatrical releases; Todd McGowan’s The Fictional Christopher Nolan (2012), Jason T. Eberl’s co-edited collection with George A. Dunn titled The Philosophy of Christopher Nolan (2017), Darren Mooney’s 2018 critical companion, Tom Shone’s biographical account The Nolan Variations (2020) and even my own The Cinema of Christopher Nolan (2015) and The Traumatic Screen: The Films of Christopher Nolan (2020) are guilty of avoiding an in-depth discussion of Nolan’s short films. While these works each have something significant to offer readers, what is clearly missing from the current scholarship surrounding Nolan is a detailed analysis of his short films. There are practical reasons why his short films have been neglected thus far, partly because Tarantella (1989) and Larceny (1996) are not widely available; the former aired only once on public broadcast television and the latter featured briefly at the Cambridge Film Festival. But the apparent reluctance of scholars to critically engage with Doodlebug is perhaps indicative of a broader disregard of the form. In an article for the Journal of Short Film Studies celebrating a decade devoted to the art of the short film, Per Fikse, the Director of the Minimalen Short Film Festival in Trondheim, Norway, remarks that all too often, the short film has been considered ‘merely a “stepping stone” or “calling card” on the way to making feature-length films, rather than an important art form in its own right” (2021: 5). Likewise, Jeffrey Middents notes that ‘while literary studies has created a space (if marginalized) for the study of shorter works, cinema studies has largely ignored the short film” (2009: 128). With this mind, this chapter attempts to address the perceived imbalance of critical analysis by offering an in-depth discussion of Doodlebug and Tarantella.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Companion to Christopher Nolan
PublisherLexington Books
Publication statusIn preparation - 2022


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