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Christopher Nolan Says He Would ‘Love to Make a Horror Film’

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Christopher Nolan is in the market to make a horror film, provided there is a good enough idea.

Nolan was speaking at an in-conversation event at at London’s British Film Institute (BFI) on Thursday, attended by a rapt, sold-out audience. In response to a question from an audience member whether he would consider making a horror film, Nolan said, “‘Oppenheimer‘ has elements of horror in it definitely, as I think is appropriate to the subject matter. I think horror films are very interesting because they depend on very cinematic devices, it really is about a visceral response to things and so, at some point, I’d love to make a horror film. But I think a really good horror film requires a really exceptional idea. And those are few and far between. So I haven’t found a story that lends itself to that,” Nolan said.

“But I think it’s a very interesting genre from a cinematic point of view. It’s also one of the few genres where the studios make a lot of these films, and they are films that have a lot of bleakness, a lot of abstraction. They have a lot of the qualities that Hollywood is generally very resistant to putting in films, but that’s a genre where it’s allowable,” Nolan added.

Expanding on the theme of genre, the filmmaker provided the example of “Oppenheimer” again, where he said the middle of the film is “very heavily” the heist genre and the third act of the film is the courtroom drama. “The reason I settled on those two genres for those sections is they are mainstream genres in which dialogue, people talking, is inherently intense and interesting to an audience. That’s the fun thing with genre, you can play with a lot of different areas, where in a different type of film you really wouldn’t be allowed to,” Nolan said.

The conversation, moderated by BBC presenter Francine Stock, covered the entirety of Nolan’s storied career, where the filmmaker explained various aspects of his craft, particularly his writing and editing process. He also touched upon the contributions of cinematography, especially the Imax format, and composing to his work, with shout outs for Hoyte Van Hoytema and Hans Zimmer. The involvement of his actors was also discussed, particularly what Heath Ledger brought to the role of Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

Stock said that Nolan’s Batman films anticipated the rise of disruptive leaders in politics all around the world. Nolan responded, “The intent was always to just be honest about presenting the things we were affected by, things we were worried about. Certainly when I look back at ‘Batman Begins,’ there’s a heavy emphasis on on terrorism, obviously, post 911. It wasn’t something we were consciously putting into the film. Certainly, the Joker from ‘The Dark Knight’ is all about fear and anarchy and the fear of rules breaking down and what that will do to society. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is very much fearful of fascism, demagoguery.”

The evening was introduced by BFI CEO Ben Roberts, who revealed that Nolan and his real-life and producing partner Emma Roberts had visited the BFI National Archive earlier that day. He commended their support of the institution, which is one of the largest film and TV archives in the world. In celebration of Nolan’s preference for film over digital, all the clips shown on the evening were on 35mm, including one from a new restoration of his breakthrough film “Memento.”

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