The Traumatic Screen: The Films of Christopher Nolan

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

Abstract

Christopher Nolan occupies a rare realm within the Hollywood mainstream, creating complex, original films that achieve both critical acclaim and commercial success. In The Traumatic Screen, Stuart Joy builds on contemporary applications of psychoanalytic film theory to consider the function and presentation of trauma across Nolan’s work, arguing that the complexity, thematic consistency and fragmentary nature of his films mimic the structural operation of trauma.

From 1997’s Doodlebug to 2017’s Dunkirk, Nolan’s films highlight cinema’s ability to probe the nature of human consciousness while commenting on the relationship between spectator and screen. Joy examines Nolan’s treatment of trauma – both individual and collective – through the formal construction, mise en scène and repeated themes of his films. The argument presented is based on close textual analysis and a methodological framework that incorporates the works of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. The first in-depth, overtly psychoanalytic understanding of trauma in the context of the director’s filmography, this book builds on and challenges existing scholarship in a bold new interpretation of the Nolan canon.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherIntellect Publishers
Number of pages200
ISBN (Print)9781789382198
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020

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