Nolan, IMAX, and the Inevitable Backlash


With the release of Dunkirk has come the small and inevitable pushback against Christopher Nolan. Mostly this foolishness is relegated to just a portion of Film Twitter, a group of even-handed and open-minded individuals if there ever was one, but it exists all the same. It’s fine. Every hugely popular filmmaker goes through it (it’s also happening to Tarantino as we speak), and they always survive. Plus, Nolan’s films aren’t universally likable, and really, they shouldn’t be. Universally likable movies usually aren’t anything special, and I’d much rather watch something flawed and interesting than broad, bland, and filled with those godawful Minions. I’m sure you would too. So no, you don’t have to like all of his movies. You don’t even have to like any of his movies if they aren’t to your taste. But for the love of all things good in this world, stop hating on him for celebrating theatrical exhibition.

Seriously. What is wrong with you?!? Granted, you’ve probably been led to this strange place by click-bait articles inaccurately stating that Nolan HATES Netflix, but stop for a second and think about what you’re advocating; think about how senseless it is. Christopher Nolan has made it clear that he’s not at all against any one form of film exhibition. He hasn’t condemned streaming. He hasn’t condemned digital cameras. He hasn’t said a negative word about home video. All he has done is use his position as one of the few filmmakers who can command a budget while working on his own creative terms to make a case for the big screen experience. That’s it.

And why shouldn’t he? Going to the movies is fun, and when a filmmaker creates a product that is designed with the theatrical presentation in mind, it’s a beautiful thing. With so many films being made for home viewers, why is it such a crime for one guy to embrace the big screen style?

For some reason his commitment to using actual film and shooting with an IMAX camera is being seen as arrogance when it’s really just the actions of a man whose passion also happens to be his job. It would be one thing if he made Dunkirk available only in IMAX, but that’s simply not the case. Nolan has never made his films any less accessible than any others in history, and there’s the added bonus that you can see it in a beautiful format if you so choose. Or you can see it in regular projection if that’s what you like. Or you can wait to see it at home (even though you shouldn’t). It’s completely your choice and whatever you choose is fine.

“But what about the people who can’t afford to go to the movies? What about them?!? Christopher Nolan hates poor people!”

Yes, I’ve had this conversation (twice now!) and I can’t believe I wasted my time on it. If you can’t afford to see the movie in the theater, don’t. That’s completely fine. Just wait until it costs almost exactly the same price at home and then steal it, because that’s exactly what you’re saying isn’t it? You plan to steal it and you want to talk down on IMAX because you don’t have an IMAX theater in your house and it will make you feel better about a missed opportunity. Artists owe you their art for free, right? Because you’re you! And as long as everyone else is buying it, you get to have it for free.

Let’s be completely honest. That is 100% what this is all about! You’re upset that the preferred format for Dunkirk isn’t free and you’ve decided to label it ‘filmmaker arrogance’ to save yourself 20 bucks.

You hate fun. I hope when you steal it you can’t find anything but cam screener and it gives your computer a virus.

Author: Dan Scully

Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *