Christopher Nolan

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Following (1998), 7.5/10
Memento (2000), 8/10
Insomnia (2002), 6/10
Batman Begins (2005), 5/10
Prestige (2006), 7.3/10
The Dark Knight (2008), 6.5/10
Inception (2010), 7.2/10
The Dark Knight Rises (2012), 6.5/10
Interstellar (2014), 7/10
Dunkirk (2017), 6.4/10

Christopher Nolan (Britain, 1970) debuted with a sequence of shorts. His first full-length film was Following (1998), a black and white thriller that plays with the narrative structure. The characters and the setting are mere pretexts to unleash Nolan's revolutionary concept of narrative.

Somebody, wearing white gloves, is browsing through the objects of a shoebox. The protagonist is talking to somebody about his hobby: he follows people. At the beginning he was following random people, then he started selecting people. That is when his troubles began.
He waits outside a girl's apartment and holds pictures of her. The girl walks into a bar.
Next, he is lying on the floor, badly beaten, bleeding and coughing. Next, he is typing frantically on his typewriter. Bill fancies himself as a writer.
One of his "victims" noticed that he was following him and approached him in a restaurant. As Bill confessed his morbid obsession, the man introduced himself as a professional burglar, a man who breaks into apartments and studies his victims' lives: a philosophizing burglar.
Bill follows him into an apartment. They are surprised by the tenants, but the burglar figures that the woman is having an affair, as the man she walked in with is not the one she lives with. They leave undisturbed.
Bill meets the girl in a bar (the girl he has been following). She's very upfront: he can buy her a drink but she will not sleep with him. Not because she doesn't like him, but because her boyfriend is dangerous. Nonetheless, they meet outside and he takes her to his apartment. She tells him how she has just been burglarized.
Bill, his face badly beaten up, calls a friend about learning self-defense techniques.
Bill (face ok) goes along on a second burglary. This time the burglar, after figuring out the humble life of the owners, refuses to steal anything.
Bill visits the girl in her apartment. She describes how the burglars went through her underwear and took one earring.
Next, his face is scarred again and he is getting ready for a burglary.
The third burglary (face ok) with the partner/master is in the girl's apartment: the burglar goes through her underwear and misplaces one of her earrings. Bill pockets a pictures of her.
Bill (face ok) meets the girl at the bar. She's afraid of her boyfriend because she saw him smash the skull of someone who owed him money. Bill pays with a credit card.
His face is scarred and he is walking in the dark in the deserted bar. He has the combination of the safe and opens it.
A flashback shows him finishing up lunch with the burglar at the restaurant. The burglar hands him a credit card that he has just stolen and invites Bill to pay with it.
Unscarred face, he is typing. He cuts his hair to make sure he cannot be identified.
Bill browses through the loot taken from the girl's apartment, counts money and checks objects. Then calls burglar, who happens to be in bed with that very girl. They make fun of him.
Back to the solo burglary in the bar, Bill is taping money all around his body because he forgot to carry a bag. He is surprised by someone and hits him with a hammer crashing his skull. Bill takes the envelop and runs.
Unscarred, Bill goes to apologized at the girl's place: confesses that he has been writing about burglars and going along with a burglar's plans. She tells him that her boyfriend is blackmailing her because of some pictures that are kept in the safe of the bar. She knows the combination of the safe and he volunteers to break into his office and take them. She makes him promise that he will not open the envelop.
Unscarred, Bill walks with a bag to a meeting with the burglar on the roof of a building. Bill offers the burglar the job at the club and explains that he is seeing the girl. The burglar gets mad at him and hits him. That's how Bill got his bruises. As Bill is lying down on the floor, the burglar stuffs a napkin into his mouth. Bill goes back home and types something.
The burglar goes back to the girl and they discuss how he beat an old lady to death and they are now trying to frame Bill for that murder.
Bill is back in his apartment after the burglary at the bar. He is taking the money off his body. He can't resist and opens the envelop. Inside he finds pictures of another woman. Bill, furious, rushes to the girl's apartment and yells at her. She confesses that she used him as a decoy, supposed to be caught right-handed while burglarizing that bar, so the police would suspect him instead of his friend the burglar. It was the burglar who followed Bill from the beginning (not viceversa, as Bill believed) and did so because Bill was the perfect idiot to fall in their trap.
Bill finishes his story to the police detective who has been listening to it. The detective lets him finish and then reveals that there is no unsolved murder of old ladies and that the burglar was never a suspect of anything. They invented everything, but Bill now has no way to corroborate his story. Everything he told the police sounds like the work of a sick mind. The only facts are that he did kill a man in the bar and that...
The burglar and the girl are congratulating each other for the success of their operation, but the burglar has a surprise for the girl: their boss has ordered him to kill her, as she is a dangerous witness, and he kills her with the same hammer that Bill has just used in the burglary.
The police detective tells Bill that the girl was found dead and that they found her blood on his hammer. The detective suspects that Bill tortured her to get the combination. The police have found her shoebox under his bed, with photographs of her, missing earring, and the stolen credit card. Everything proves that Bill murdered the girl.
One has to sequence the scenes in the right order to reconstruct what happened: Bill started following people; the burglar managed to become his next victim and to get him to follow the girl; the girl talked Bill into burglarizing the club; Bill burglarized the club and then realized he had been fooled; Bill went to the police to confess everything but in the meantime the burglar had killed the girl and the police had found the hammer.

Memento (2000) is a paranoid essay on Nolan's favorite topic (memory and the illusion of memory) and a revolutionary approach to the timeline (the movie plays the story backwards like Chang-dong Lee's Peppermint Candy of the previous year). In cinema's continuous quest for new ways of telling a story - a quest that started with Griffith and Ejzenstein and went through the "Welles-ian" revolution - Nolan's Memento stands with Egoyan's Exotica, Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Figgis' Time Code as one of the most significant films of the turn of the century.
Since the protagonist has no short-term memory (does not remember recent events, things that just happened to him), telling the story backwards, as a sequence of short segments, each of which starts where the following one will end, is a way to get into the protagonist's shoes: each segment is a blind search for a reason. Each scene explains the previous scene. This "explanation" is embodied by the protagonist in "cues" that he leaves behind to make sure that his next reincarnation will find them (the Polaroid snapshots, the notes stuck against the wall or left in the pocket of the jacket, even tattoes on his body). By using "cues", the protagonist and the viewer can make sense of what is happening. Those "cues" create a bridge between past and presents. Those cues are a vivisection of memory, whereby the continuous flow of time is reduced to discrete segments. Causality works as usual within each segment, but it takes the cues to impose causality over the whole set of segments. Memory forces causality on events.
Those "cued" are also his identity. His identity is tattoed on his body, is annotated on his photographs, is pasted to the map he hung on his bed. Identity is another theme of the film. Every day, when he wakes up, the protagonist has to recreate his life and his purpose in life: who he is and why he is doing what he is doing. It's like a computer that reloads its memory every time it reboots. Ultimately, the protagonist is just a machine programmed by all those cues, except that he wrote the instructions for his own program.
As the film progresses, we also start seeing these "cues" as theorems that the protagonist has proven. As he proves theorems and establishes truths, he records them in those cues. So the film is also a subtle exercise in mathematical logic. This is the only way that the protagonist can assess whether a statement is true or false: by using the statements previously proven to be true (the "facts"). The problem is that one wrong assumption can screw up the entire castle of deductions. And that's precisely what happens. (Plus, in this case it is the mathematician who deliberately inserts a false statement into the formal system in order to cause a wrong deduction).
Also, the system lends itself to manipulation. If someone alters one of the truths, the subsequent deductions will also be screwed up. (The protagonist thinks that he knows what he is doing, but he actually only knows what is written on his notes, and he does not remember why he wrote what he wrote. In fact it will turn out that one note is plainly fabricated and one very important note he could not write down because he could not find a pen in time).
The main appeal of the film is therefore its structure, its way of telling the story. But a parallel thread, shot in black and white, a sequence of phone calls between the protagonist and an invisible caller, give the puzzle (and the protagonist's life) a meaning.
During these phone calls, we learn of another story, the story of another protagonist, Sammy Jankis, that first seems to merely provide scientific ground for the protagonist's disease but then takes over the main story and becomes the whole reason of the protagonist's actions.
Only halfway through the film one starts realizing that, after all, this is just a detective film, albeit a very skewed one (nearest comparison would be Boorman's Point Blank). Then towards the end it becomes a bit of a Hitchcock thriller. At the same time, the director never loses his sense of humour, and often makes fun of Lenny's memory loss. A few scenes lend themselves to comic situations.

A man is staring at the Polaroid snapshot of a bloody scene: somebody has been murdered and the walls are stained with blood.
Lenny leaves his motel room and meets Teddy, who claims to be a good friend of his and who has come to pick him up. Together, they drive to an abandoned building, a pick-up truck parked in the front. Lenny finds bullets in the pick-up truck. They enter the building, Lenny finds a note to kill Teddy and coldly executes him, while Teddy tries in vain to convince him that someone set him (Lenny) up to kill the wrong man, and that the revealing truth lies in the basement. Then Lenny takes a Polaroid snapshot of the corpse, the snapshot we saw in the first scene.
In black and white, we see Lenny in a motel room talking into the phone to someone about his mental disease.
Lenny has a picture of Teddy in his pocket and writes on it a note to kill him. He meets Teddy in the lobby and leaves the motel with him.
In black and white again, Lenny is talking over the phone about the case of a man named Sammy Jankis who had lost short-term memory just like him. It is even tattoed on his hands: "remember Sammy".
Lenny arrives at the motel and opens an envolope from Natalie. Inside the envelope there is a photocopy of Teddy's driver license, except that Teddy's real name is John G. Lenny was looking for a John G and had a plate number to track him down, and Natalie helped him find out the owner of that plate number who happens to be the very John G he was looking for. A tattoo on his body reads "John G raped and murdered my wife".
After the first few scenes, the mechanism is clear: 1. Leonard Shelby has lost short-term memory in an "incident" following the rape and murder of his wife and he is now after the killer; 2. Since the incident, Lenny (as he hates to be called) does not remember anything for more than a few seconds; 3. Lenny has replaced his short-term memory with a cunning set of tools, including annotated Polaroid snapshots, notes left in places where he will certainly find them, and tattoes spread all over his body; 4. Each scene explains the previous one; 5. Lenny spends hours talking about Sammy on the phone in a different timeframe.
Lenny meets Natalie in a restaurant (initially, of course, he does not recognize her), whose face has been badly beaten. She gives him the envelope that he will open at the motel. Apparently, he asked her to track down a plate number for his, in return for another favor.
In the meantime, through the black and white phone conversation, we learn that Lenny was an insurance detective in charge of finding out if Sammy was faking his mental disease. Lenny met Sammy and his wife, decent folks who truly loved each other. Sammy had exactly the same mental disease that now Lenny has.
Teddy jumps on the hood of Lenny's car and buys him lunch. Teddy thinks that Lenny is being set up by someone to kill the wrong person. In all of his dealings with Teddy, Lenny is guided by a note that says "Do not believe his lies". Whatever Teddy tells him, it is automatically deleted by that note. Then Lenny goes to the appointment with Natalie.
Lenny wakes up in a room next to Natalie. They talk of John G and the plate number. Then Lenny gets in his car and Teddy jumps on the hood.
Lenny has a picture of Dodd. Natalie tells him he is the man who beat her. Her boyfriend, Jimmy, disappeared and she is afraid he has been killed. Lenny and Natalie make love.
Lenny wakes up in a room and finds a man tied and gagged in the closet. And Teddy is at the door, claiming he, Lenny, called him for help. The man in the closet is Dodd. Naturally, Lenny does not remember hitting him, but finds a note about Natalie. Lenny drives to Natalie's home with a picture of Dodd.
Lenny is in a bathroom with a bottle in his hands and can't remember why. He decides to take a shower but he is interrupted by somebody: it is Dodd, who just entered his own room, where Lenny was apparently waiting for him. The two fight and eventually Lenny ties Dodd, dumps him in the closet and takes a Polaroid of him. Then, panicking, he calls Teddy for help.
Lenny is attacked by a stranger (Dodd) who tries to kill him. Lenny reads a note from Natalie with Dodd's address, enters his apartment, grabs a bottle as a weapon and hides in the bathroom.
Late at night, Lenny burns memorabilia of his wife.
During the black and white conversations we learn that Lenny is after the killers of his wife. He covets the police record, although some pages are missing.
Lenny wakes up and finds a prostitute in the bathroom. Then he decides to burn all of his wife's memorabilia.
Lenny takes a room at the motel and takes a picture of the motel sign so he does not forget where he lives. Lenny hangs a map on the wall and sticks pictures of all the reference points to the map. Then he calls a number and orders a prostitute. He asks the prostitute to act like she was his wife and lie next to him until he falls asleep.
Teddy tells him that he should not trust Natalie and that her boyfriend is a drug dealer. But Lenny's note tells him not to believe Teddy's lies. Teddy gives him the address of the motel, where he would be safe.
During a black and white sequence, Lenny is talking into the phone to the stranger but suddenly realizes that he has a tattoo that reads "Never answer the phone".
Lenny is at Natalie's place and forgot what he wanted to write down. Natalie enters and says she was beaten by Dodd, a drug dealer. When Lenny leaves her home, determined to avenge her, he finds Teddy in his car.
The phone is ringing but Lenny does not pick up.
Natalie and Lenny have an argument. Natalie mentions that Jimmy had an appointment with Teddy and that Teddy was supposed to give him money, but then disappeared, but Natalie owes Dodd that money, so Natalie asks Lenny to kill Dodd. Natalie hates him, curses him and insults his wife. Natalie makes fun of his disease. Natalie tells him straight in the face that she plans to take advantage of it and use him for her own goals. She can tell him anything she likes because he will forget right away. Lenny is shocked and hits her in the face. Natalie leaves the house. Lenny would like to make a note that Natalie hates him but can't find a pen. Natalie walks back in and he has already forgotten what happened.
In black and white: the front desk tells him that a cop called for him. Now Lenny does not want to answer any call.
Natalie takes him to her place. Lenny tells her the story of his incident. He woke up in the middle of the night, heard noise in the bathroom, found a masked man who just raped and killed his wife and was hit by another man whom Lenny did not see. Before leaving, the two criminals changed the scene to incriminate him. The police therefore suspected him of the murder and never looked for the real killers. When he woke up, he had brain damage and eventually realized that he had lost short-term memory. From the police report, though, Lenny became conviced that the killers were involved in drugs and had stolen a car. And set out to find them on his own.
In black and white, someone slips a note under Lenny's door: it contains a picture of Lenny and begs him to pick up the phone. The phone rings and Lenny picks up the phone.
Natalie is a bartender who is shocked when she sees Lenny enter the bar in "those clothes" and with "that car". Lenny, of course, has no idea whether they met before. She tells him she heard of him from her boyfriend Jimmy and from a cop who was looking for him. She takes him home.
In black and white, Lenny reveals what happened to the sweet couple he was investigating. All the tests proved that Sammy was not faking his illness. But Lenny managed to prove that this was a mental illness, not a physical one, and therefore the insurance company did not have to pay. Sammy's wife still wanted to know for sure if her husband was faking it and tested him: every five minutes she asked him to give her insuline shots, knowing that too many doses would have killed her. Each time he obeyed smiling. She died. Sammy ended up in a hospital for the mentally ill.
In a tattoo shop, Lenny is getting a new "fact" tattoed on his body. Teddy, who keeps following him (never recognized by Lenny) warns him against a bad cop who is using him. Lenny trusts his note not to believe his lies. Then Lenny drives to Natalie's bar because he found a note to meet her at the bar.
The front desk rings up and tells Lenny that a cop is in the lobby for him. Lenny finds Teddy and walks out with him. Teddy tells Lenny that Jimmy is the drug dealer, the John G, that Lenny has been after all this time. And tells him where to find Jimmy. Lenny drives to the abandoned building on a pick-up truck. When Jimmy arrives with the money, thinking of meeting Teddy with the drug, Lenny first takes his clothes then kills him and dumps the body in the basement. But then, when Teddy shows up, Lenny starts realizing that Teddy may have used him to get the money. They argue. Teddy reveals to be a real cop, just a little corrupt. He wants to share the drug money with Lenny. When Lenny refuses his offers, Teddy tells him that he is living a delusion, that he, Teddy, is the one who listens to his story of Sammy, and he, Teddy, is the police officer who investigated the case, and he knows that Sammy was not married, that Lenny's wife was the one suffering from diabetes, that she survived the rape, that she killed herself because she was fed up of him, that Lenny has been mixing up the facts. Worse: Lenny has already killed the men who raped his wife, he just doesn't remember it. So Teddy has used him to kill another bad guy whose name happened to be John G. There are many John G's: he himself, Teddy, has a real name that reads "John G".
Lenny, now dressed like Jimmy, leaves under shock, unloads his gun in the pick-up truck, then takes Jimmy's car and drives away. His delusion has been revealed, but Lenny refuses to give it up: he needs his reality, he needs to continue his search for the killers. He hates Teddy who is trying to open his eyes. So he stops and writes down Teddy's plate number as the car that he is supposed to chase. And the words "Don't believe his lies" on the picture of Teddy. This way he has set in motion a time bomb for Teddy. Then he drives away and stops in front of the nearest tattoo parlor.

(Note that the next to the last scene, a flashback in which he is in bed with his wife, shows "I've Done It" written on Leonard's chest. In a previous scene, Leonard told Natalie that he will tattoo "I've Done It" after he finds John G).

There is no moral, other than, maybe, Lenny's disease could be the consequence (and divine punishment) of having destroyed Sammy's life for the sake of greed.
Lenny is revealed to be a crazy man who has invented the crime that he wants to revenge. He is only interested in creating a reality and a purpose for himself. No matter what. Ironically, Natalie and Teddy used him for "their" purposes. Lenny's only revenge is to make Teddy the target of his next quest for blood.
The inconsistencies are hard to reconcile, though: 1. Sammy's wife dies of insuline overdose, but how do we know what happened if Sammy has no short-memory and the woman is dead? 2. Natalie sets Lenny up to kill Teddy but how does she know that Teddy is responsible for the death of her boyfriend and what justifies such a strong hate for Teddy with no hard evidence that he is in any way involved?
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Valentina Filippis)

Memento (2001) è un saggio paranoico sulla tematica preferita di Nolan (la memoria e l’illusione della memoria) e un approccio rivoluzionario al flusso del tempo (il film presenta la storia in senso inverso). Nella continua ricerca del cinema di nuovi modi per raccontare una storia (ricerca che è iniziata con Griffith ed Ejzenstein ed ha attraversato la rivoluzione wellesiana), Memento è, insieme ad Exotica di Egoyan, Pulp Fiction di Tarantino e Time Code di Figgis, uno dei film più significativi al cavallo dei secoli. Poiché il protagonista non possiede memoria a breve termine (non ricorda gli avvenimenti recenti, le cose che gli sono appena accadute), raccontare la storia al contrario, come un susseguirsi di corti spezzoni - ognuno dei quali inizia dove finirà il seguente - è un modo per mettersi nei panni nel protagonista: ogni spezzone è una vana ricerca di senso. Ogni scena spiega la precedente. Questa “spiegazione” si concretizza in alcuni indizi che il protagonista lascia per essere sicuro di ritrovarli nella  sequenza successiva (le istantanee di Polaroid, gli appunti affissi al muro o lasciati nella tasca della giacca, perfino tatuaggi impressi sul corpo). Utilizzando queste “imbeccate”, il protagonista e lo spettatore possono trovare il senso di quanto sta accadendo. Quegli indizi creano un ponte tra il passato e il presente. Quegli indizi sono una scomposizione della memoria, per mezzo della quale il continuo scorrere del tempo è ridotto a segmenti discreti. La causalità è presente in ogni singolo segmento, ma è compito degli indizi estenderla alla totalità dei segmenti. La memoria rende predominante la causalità all’interno degli eventi.
Quegli indizi riguardano anche l’identità del protagonista, identità che è tatuata sul suo corpo, annotata sulle fotografie, affissa  alla mappa appesa dietro al suo letto. L'identità è un’altra tematica del film. Ogni giorno, quando si alza, il protagonista deve ricreare la propria vita e il proprio obiettivo: chi è e perché sta facendo quello che sta facendo. E` come un computer che carica la sua memoria ogni volta che si riavvia. Il protagonista è fondamentalmente una macchina programmata da tutti quegli indizi, l'unica differenza è che è lui stesso a scrivere le istruzioni del programma.
Con il procedere del film, iniziamo a vedere questi indizi come teoremi che il protagonista ha verificato; man mano che ne prova la veridicità e stabilisce delle verità, li annovera tra i suoi “segni”. Così il film è anche un ingegnoso esercizio di logica. L’unico modo in cui il protagonista può valutare se un’asserzione è vera o falsa, è utilizzare quelle precedentemente verificate (i "fatti"). Il problema è che una supposizione sbagliata può far crollare l'intero castello di deduzioni; ed è precisamente quello che accade. (C'è da aggiungere che in questo caso è il matematico stesso che inserisce deliberatamente una falsa attestazione all'interno del sistema formale, così da causare una deduzione sbagliata).
Inoltre il sistema stesso tende ad essere alterato; se qualcuno modifica una delle verità, le seguenti deduzioni saranno a loro volta contraffatte. (Il protagonista pensa di sapere ciò che sta facendo, ma in fin dei conti conosce solo quanto è scritto sui suoi appunti, e non si ricorda il perché abbia scritto quelle cose. Infatti accadrà che un’annotazione è completamente inventata, ed una molto importante non potrà essere trascritta perché non riesce a trovare una penna in tempo). La principale attrattiva del film è perciò la sua struttura, il suo modo di narrare la storia. Ma una trama parallela girata in bianco e nero, una sequenza di telefonate tra il protagonista e un invisibile interlocutore, dà un senso al puzzle (e alla vita del protagonista). Durante queste telefonate veniamo a conoscenza di un’altra storia, quella di un altro personaggio - Sammy Jankis – che all’inizio sembra fornire unicamente una base scientifica al disturbo del protagonista, ma alla fine prende il posto della storia principale e diventa l’unica ragione delle azioni del protagonista.
Solo a metà del film s'inizia a capire che, dopotutto, questo è un film poliziesco, sebbene anomalo (il paragone più azzeccato sarebbe Point Black di Boorman). Poi, verso la fine, diventa simile ad un thriller di Hitchcock. Allo stesso tempo, il regista non perde mai il senso dello humour, e spesso crea episodi divertenti a partire dalla perdita di memoria di Lenny. Alcune scene si prestano loro stesse a situazioni comiche.

Un uomo osserva un'istantanea della scena di un delitto: qualcuno è stato ucciso e le pareti sono coperte di sangue. Lenny esce dalla sua stanza del motel e incontra Teddy, il quale sostiene di essere un suo buon amico e di essere venuto a prenderlo. Insieme, si dirigono in auto verso un edificio abbandonato, fuori dal quale è parcheggiato un furgoncino. Lenny trova dei proiettili nella cabina guida di questo. Entrano nell'edificio, Lenny trova un appunto che dice di uccidere Teddy e lo elimina a sangue freddo, mentre quest'ultimo cerca invano di convincerlo che qualcuno sta tentando di fargli uccidere l’uomo sbagliato, e che la prova si trova nel seminterrato. Lenny prende un’istantanea del cadavere, la foto che abbiamo visto nella prima scena. In bianco e nero, vediamo Lenny in una stanza di motel che sta parlando al telefono con qualcuno del suo disturbo mentale. Lenny ha una foto di Teddy in tasca e scrive su di essa un appunto: ucciderlo. Incontra Teddy all’ingresso ed esce dal motel con lui. Ancora in bianco e nero, Lenny sta discutendo al telefono del caso di un uomo di nome Sammy Jankins, che aveva perso la memoria a breve termine, proprio come lui. E’ tatuato anche sulle mani: “Ricordati di Sammy”. Lenny arriva al motel e apre una busta da parte di Natalie; dentro la busta c’è una fotocopia della patente di Teddy, a parte il fatto che il vero nome di Teddy è John G. Lenny stava cercando un John G, aveva un numero di targa per rintracciarlo, e Natalie lo ha aiutato a trovare il proprietario di quel numero di targa, che si rivela essere il vero John G che egli stava cercando. Un tatuaggio sul suo corpo dice “John G ha violentato e ucciso mia moglie”. Dopo le prime scene, il meccanismo è chiaro: 1. Leonard Shelby ha perso la memoria a breve termine in un incidente seguito allo stupro e all'uccisione di sua moglie, e ora è sulle tracce del killer; 2. Dall'incidente, Lenny (che odia essere chiamato così) non si ricorda nulla per un tempo superiore a qualche secondo; 3. Lenny ha sostituito la sua memoria a breve termine con un astuto set di strumenti, tra i quali istantanee di polaroid con annotazioni, appunti lasciati in luoghi nei quali li ritroverà sicuramente, e tatuaggi disseminati sul suo corpo; 4. Ogni scena spiega la precedente; 5. Lenny passa ore intere a parlare di Sammy al telefono, in scene differenti.
Lenny incontra Natalie in un ristorante (all’inizio, ovviamente, non la riconosce), e il volto di lei mostra i segni di un pestaggio. Lei gli porge la busta che lui aprirà al motel. Apparentemente, lui le chiede di ricercare un numero di targa, in cambio di un altro favore. Nel frattempo, attraverso una scena in bianco e nero di una conversazione telefonica, veniamo a sapere che Lenny era un assicuratore, e aveva il compito di provare che il disturbo mentale di Sammy non era altro che un’invenzione. Lenny incontra Sammy e sua moglie, persone modeste che si amano profondamente. Sammy aveva esattamente lo stesso disturbo che ora ha Lenny.
Teddy salta sul cofano dell’auto di Lenny e gli compra del cibo. Teddy pensa che qualcuno stia portando Lenny ad uccidere la persona sbagliata. Il modo di agire di Lenny nei confronti di Teddy è guidato da un appunto che dice “Non ascoltare le sue bugie”; qualsiasi cosa Teddy gli dica, esso viene immediatamente annullato da quell’avvertimento. In seguito Lenny si reca all’appuntamento con Natalie. Lenny si sveglia in una stanza accanto a Natalie. Parlano di John G e del numero di targa; quindi Lenny sale in macchina e Teddy gli salta sul cofano. Lenny ha una foto di Dodd. Natalie gli dice che è l’uomo che la ha picchiata. Il suo fidanzato, Jimmy, è scomparso, e lei teme sia stato ucciso. Lenny e Natalie fanno l’amore.
Lenny si sveglia in una stanza e trova un uomo nell’armadio, legato ed imbavagliato. E Teddy è fuori dalla porta, sostenendo che Lenny lo ha chiamato chiedendogli aiuto. L’uomo nell’armadio è Dodd. Ovviamente, Lenny non ricorda di averlo picchiato, ma trova un appunto su Natalie. Lenny si reca a casa di Natalie con una foto di Dodd.
Lenny è in un bagno con una bottiglia in mano, e non riesce a ricordare il perché. Decide di fare una doccia, ma viene interrotto da qualcuno: è Dodd, che è appena entrato nella sua stanza, dove sembra che Lenny lo stesse aspettando. I due lottano  e alla fine Lenny lega Dodd, lo butta nell’armadio e gli fa una foto. Poi, in preda al panico, Telefona a Teddy per chiedergli aiuto. Lenny viene assalito da uno sconosciuto (Dodd), che tenta di ucciderlo. Lenny legge un appunto di Natalie con l’indirizzo di Dodd, entra nel suo appartamento, impugna la bottiglia come un’arma e si nasconde nel bagno. A notte fonda, Lenny brucia degli oggetti appartenuti a sua moglie.
Tramite la conversazione in bianco e nero, scopriamo che Lenny è sulle tracce dell’assassino di sua moglie. Desidera ardentemente i documenti della polizia, sebbene manchino alcune pagine.
Lenny si sveglia e trova una prostituta nel bagno. Decide di bruciare tutti gli oggetti appartenuti a sua moglie.
Lenny prende una camera al motel e fotografa l’insegna, per non dimenticarsi dove vive. Appende una cartina al muro e vi affigge le foto di tutti i punti di riferimento. Poi compone un numero di telefono e richiede una prostituta; chiede alla donna di comportarsi come se fosse sua moglie e di sdraiarsi al suo fianco fino a che lui non si addormenta.
Teddy gli dice che non dovrebbe fidarsi di Natalie e che il fidanzato di lei è uno spacciatore di droga. Ma l’annotazione di Lenny gli dice di non credere alle bugie di Teddy. Teddy gli dà l’indirizzo del motel, dove sarebbe stato al sicuro.
In una delle sequenze in bianco e nero, Lenny sta parlando al telefono con l’ignoto interlocutore, ma si accorge subito che ha un tatuaggio con scritto: “Non rispondere mai al telefono”.
Lenny è a casa di Natalie e si è dimenticato cosa aveva intenzione di scrivere. Natalie entra dicendo di essere stata picchiata da Dodd, uno spacciatore. Quando Lenny lascia la casa di lei, determinato a vendicarla, trova Teddy nella sua auto.
Il telefono sta squillando ma Lenny non risponde.
Natalie e Lenny litigano; lei dice che Jimmy aveva un appuntamento con Teddy e che quest’ultimo doveva dargli del denaro, ma poi era Jimmy era scomparso; Natalie deve a Dodd quel denaro, così chiede a Lenny di ucciderlo. Natalie offende Lenny, lo maledice e insulta sua moglie. Natalie gli dice esplicitamente che sta pensando di avvantaggiarsi della situazione e di usarlo per i suoi scopi; può dirgli qualsiasi cosa voglia, perché tanto lui si dimenticherà tutto. Lenny è molto scosso e la colpisce. Natalie esce di casa. Lenny vorrebbe scrivere che Natalie lo odia, ma non riesce a trovare una penna. Natalie rientra e lui si è già dimenticato di quanto è successo.
In bianco e nero: il custode gli riferisce che un poliziotto ha telefonato cercandolo. Lenny decide in questo momento di non rispondere a nessuna telefonata.
Natalie lo porta a casa sua, dove Lenny le racconta del suo incidente: si era svegliato nel corso della notte, aveva sentito un rumore proveniente dal bagno, aveva trovato un uomo con il volto coperto che aveva appena violentato e ucciso sua moglie, ed era stato colpito da un altro uomo, che non aveva visto. Prima di andarsene, i due criminali avevano cambiato gli elementi per incriminare Lenny; perciò la polizia aveva sospettato di lui e non aveva mai cercato i veri colpevoli. Al suo risveglio, Lenny accusava danni cerebrali e si era poi reso conto di avere perso la memoria a breve termine. Ma, leggendo il verbale della polizia, Lenny si rende conto che gli assassini avevano a che fare con lo spaccio di droga e avevano rubato un auto. E decide di trovarli per conto suo.
In bianco e nero, qualcuno fa scivolare una busta sotto la porta di Lenny: ci sono una sua foto e una scritta che lo supplica di rispondere al telefono. Il telefono squilla e Lenny risponde.
Natalie, dietro al bancone del bar, rimane scioccata quando vede Lenny entrare con “quei vestiti” e sceso da “quella macchina”. Lenny, ovviamente, non ha la minima idea di dove si siano incontrati prima di allora. Lei gli racconta di aver sentito parlare di lui dal suo fidanzato Jimmy e da un poliziotto che lo stava cercando. Lei lo accompagna a casa.
In bianco e nero, Lenny rivela cosa era successo ai dolci coniugi sui quali stava investigando: tutti i test eseguiti provavano che Sammy non stava fingendo di essere malato. Ma Lenny era riuscito a dimostrare che si trattava di una malattia mentale, e non fisica, e perciò la compagnia assicurativa non era tenuta a pagare. La moglie di Sammy voleva avere la certezza che il marito non stesse mentendo: così, ogni cinque minuti, gli chiede di farle delle iniezioni di insulina, sapendo che troppe dosi l’avrebbero uccisa. Ogni volta il marito obbedisce, sorridendo. Lei muore, e lui viene ricoverato in un ospedale per malati mentali.
In un negozio di tatuaggi, Lenny si sta facendo tatuare un nuovo “fatto”. Teddy, che continua a seguirlo (ma non viene mai riconosciuto da Lenny) lo allerta nei confronti di un poliziotto che lo starebbe usando. Lenny si fida della sua annotazione di non credere alle sue bugie. In seguito Lenny si reca al bar di Natalie, in quanto aveva trovato un promemoria dell’appuntamento.
Il portiere dell’albergo avvisa telefonicamente Lenny, dicendogli che un poliziotto lo sta aspettando nella hall. Lenny incontra Teddy ed esce con lui; Teddy gli riferisce che Jimmy è lo spacciatore, il John G che Lenny aveva cercato per tutto questo tempo, e gli dice dove trovarlo. Lenny si reca all’edificio abbandonato su un pick-up. Quando Jimmy arriva con il denaro, pensando di trovare Teddy con la droga, Lenny gli sfila gli abiti, lo uccide e si libera del cadavere gettandolo nel seminterrato. Ma a quel punto, quando arriva Teddy, Lenny inizia a capire che quest’ultimo potrebbe essersi servito di lui per impossessarsi del denaro. Litigano. Teddy rivela di essere un vero poliziotto, solamente un po’ corrotto. Vuole spartire il denaro della droga con Lenny; quando Lenny rifiuta la sua offerta, il poliziotto gli dice che sta vivendo una realtà illusoria, che è lui – Teddy – che ascolta la storia di Sammy al telefono, e lui – Teddy – è il poliziotto che ha seguito le indagini, e sa che Sammy non era sposato, che era la moglie di Lenny a soffrire di diabete, che lei era sopravvissuta alla violenza, che lei si era suicidata perché era stanca di lui, che Lenny stava confondendo i fatti. Come se non bastasse: Lenny ha già ucciso l’uomo che ha violentato sua moglie, solo che non se lo ricorda. Quindi Teddy si era servito di lui per uccidere un uomo il cui nome era John G. Ci sono parecchi John G: anche lui, Teddy, in realtà si chiama “John G”.
Lenny, con indosso gli abiti di Jimmy, si allontana scioccato, estrae i proiettili dalla sua pistola, nel pick-up, infine prende l’auto di Jimmy e se ne va; è chiaramente deluso, ma rifiuta di arrendersi: ha bisogno della sua realtà, di continuare a cercare gli assassini. Odia Teddy, il quale sta cercando di fargli aprire gli occhi. Così si ferma e annota il numero di targa di Teddy, come fosse quella l’auto alla quale ora deve dare la caccia. Scrive inoltre le parole “Non ascoltare le sue bugie” sulla foto di Teddy. In questo modo ha innescato una bomba ad orologeria per Teddy. Lenny parte e si ferma davanti al più vicino negozio di tatuaggi.
(Da notare che la penultima scena, un flashback nel quale è a letto con sua moglie, mostra la scritta “L’ho fatto” sul petto di Leonard. In una scena precedente, Leonard aveva detto a Natalie che si sarebbe tatuato “L’ho fatto” dopo aver trovato John G).
Non c’è nessuna morale oltre al fatto che, forse, il disturbo di Lenny può essere la conseguenza (e la punizione divina) per aver distrutto la vita di Sammy in nome del denaro.
Si scopre che Lenny è un pazzo che si è inventato il crimine che vuole vendicare; il suo unico interesse è crearsi una realtà ed uno scopo. Non importa altro. Ironicamente, Natalie e Teddy lo hanno usato per i loro propositi. L’unica vendetta di Lenny è rendere Teddy l’obiettivo della sua prossima caccia.
Tuttavia, risulta difficile spiegare alcune incoerenze: 1. La moglie di Sammy muore per un’overdose di insulina, ma come facciamo a sapere quello che è successo, dal momento che Sammy non ha ricordi a breve termine e la moglie è morta? 2. Natalie spinge Lenny ad uccidere Teddy, ma com’è venuta a sapere che è quest’ultimo il responsabile della morte del fidanzato? E come si giustifica un tale odio nei confronti di Teddy, dal momento che non ci sono prove concrete del fatto che lui è in qualche modo coinvolto?
Insomnia (2002) is a mediocre remake of Erik Skjoldbjaerg's Insomnia (1997).

Batman Begins (2005) is actually the fifth film in the "Batman" franchise, following Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) and Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), all based on the decades-old comic strip. Nolan doesn't spend too much time trying to make it interesting. The story feels like a comic strip, and the characters feel monodimensional like the characters of a comic trip. There are the usual Hollywood stereotypes (car chases, love story, heroism) and of course there is a happy ending.

A child, Bruce, while playing with his friend Rachel, falls into a dry well and is attacked by bats. The film fast forwards to 20 or so years later when the same Bruce is a young man kept prisoners in some Himalayan compound. He gets into a fight and demonstrates his fighting skills. He is released (for mysterious reasons) and approached by a man who is impressed by his determination to fight injustice. This man, Henri, offers him to work for Ra's al Ghul, who shares his goal and has organized a league of volunteers. Henri demonstrates to Bruce that he is a better fighter and gives him some training. The film now returns to Bruce's childhood: the well incident left him with a deep fear of bats. Bruce is the son of a wealthy and well-respected man, who owns a giant mansion outside the city of Gotham. His father has a reputation for fighting for justice. One evening the family went to watch an opera where the actors were wearing bat costumes. Bruce got scared and asked to leave. Outside they were attacked by an armed homeless who killed both his parents to steal their money and jewels. The killer, "Chill", was found later by the police. Bruce was cared for by the family's devoted butler Alfred. The film now jumps again the young Bruce being trained by Henri in the Himalayan fortress of Ra's al Ghul. Then the film flashes back to when Bruce returned from college to the family mansion. He was motivated by the fact that Chill, the killer of his parents, had made a deal with the justice system to secure his release: he was willing to cooperate and frame the city's most dangerous mobster, Falcone, in return for a reduction in his sentence. Bruce, however, did not like the idea. Ironically, his childhood friend Rachel was now working for the district attorney. Bruce attended the hearing and was ready to shoot Chill with a hidden pistol but someone else killed him before Bruce could pull the trigger: one of Falcone's hitmen, to silence a dangerous witness and traitor. Bruce confronted Falcone and learned the hard way that Falcone controlled the whole city. Beaten and humiliated, Bruce felt powerless. Now the film moves forward again to Henri's fortress. After completing the training, Bruce realizes that Henri and Ra's have founded a brutal cult of assassins and wants to quit. This is not tolerated and Bruce has to burn down the whole compound, kill Ra's and scores of his men before he can flee. His last action is to save Henri who is falling from a cliff to certain death. Now Henri is back home, determined to fight the corruption that devours Gotham. His father's firm is now ruled by a cold businessman, Earle. They are surprised to learn that he is alive since he has been missing for seven years. Bruce only asks to be assigned a job in the secret laboratory run by Fox, an inventor who knew his father. Fox shows Bruce all sorts of James Bond-ian inventions that have never been used by the military. Meanwhile, Rachel is outraged that Falcone's thugs are routinely saved from going to jail by an unpleasant doctor Crane who finds them mentally insane and locks them up in his mental hospital. Bruce walks the streets disguised as a homeless and studies the situation. He ventures in the well where he once fell and finds that it communicates with a system of caves and eventually finds an alternative exit. Bruce creates a high-tech costume with Alfred's help. Crane meets Falcone and we learn that the two are allies but also rivals. Meanwhile, there is one honest cop who would like to send Falcone to jail but he is surrounded by cops who work for Falcone. Bruce, wearing a bat costume, introduces himself to the honest cop, Gordon. Gordon's corrupt partner is with Falcone when a drug shipment arrives. The operation is disrupted by Batman who kills all of Falcone's thugs. Meanwhile, Falcone has dispatched two thugs to kill Rachel, who insists on investigating him. Batman appears right then and provides her with a picture that incriminates Falcone. Meanwhile, Earle, the chairman of the firm, is informed that a lethal weapon has been stolen. Following Alfred's suggestion, Bruce leads a public life of amusement and excesses, showing up with sexy girls at a hotel and then buying the hotel when the manager complains that the girl get naked into a decorative pool. Rachel sees him with the girls and is disappointed. Crane visits Falcone, who threatens him because he knows that Crane receives some toxic material. After wearing a scarecrow mask, Crane sprays him with a gas that turns him into a demented man. Now Crane can file to have the insane Falcone transferred to his clinic. Gordon tells Batman that the corrupt cop probably knows what is going on with the shipment of drugs and Batman does not hesitate to torture the cop to obtain information. At the same time Rachel's boss finds the missing weapon and is killed by the men corrupt cops guarding it. Batman confronts Crane (after killing a few of his thugs) but Crane dons the mask and sprays the gan on his face. Then Crane sets Batman on fire. Batman rolls in pools of rainwater to extinguish the flames and then calls Alfred for help. Somehow Alfred calls Fox who administers an antidote to Bruce and Bruce recovers from the effect of the gas. Earle asks Fox about the lethal weapon that is missing and then fires him. Rachel confronts Crane in his clinic. Crane shows her what he does with the inmates: they prepare a lethal potion and pour it into the water supply of the city. He then dons the mask and sprays Rachel who falls sick. Batman arrives, sprays Crane with his own gas, extort a confession from Crane that he works for Ra's al Ghul (but Batman/Bruce knows that Ra's is dead), waits for the arrival of the honest cop, and, with his help, escapes taking the delirious Rachel with him (thanks also to the intervention of million of bats that respond to an electronic signal, followed by a lengthy and ridiculous car chase). Batman administers the antidote to Rachel and then Alfred takes her home while Bruce attends his own birthday party, organized by Alfred to continue the pretense that Bruce is just a useless playboy. Bruce mingles with the aristocracy but then notices an uninvited guest: Henri, who now admits that he is Ra's. He is behind the whole plot to destroy Gotham using Crane's gas and the stolen weapon (whose purpose is to turn the city's water supply into lethal gas). Bruce pretends to be drunk and starts insulting the guests in order to get them out of the mansion and save their lives. Henri sets fire to the mansion and abandones Bruce unconscious in the ruins but Alfred arrives in time to save Bruce. Meanwhile, Gordon has mobilized the police to cordon off the contaminated area. Henri is taking the weapon to downtown via a monorail. Henri begins releasing the gas and thousands of people go insane. Some of them chase Rachel (who is protected by the antidote) and Batman saves her at the last second, hinting at her that he is Bruce. Batman then attacks Henri and his men, derailing the train and leaving Henri to die in the crash. The city is safe. When Earle shows up to work, he finds that Bruce has purchased all the stock of the firm, fired him, and appointed Fox as chairman. The newspapers report that Bruce, drunk, burned down his mansion. Rachel now admires Bruce and kisses him but then doesn't want to be his girlfriend yet. Gordon is promoted and tells Batman that there is a new dangerous criminal threatening the city, a criminal who leaves behind Joker cards.

The Prestige (2006), adapted from Christopher Priest's novel "The Prestige" (1995), is a movie about magic that uses the full power of the magic of movies. It is also the epic story of two men who one-upped each other to death, an odd form of duel. The film contains three timelines: one (from the trial to the hanging) set in the present, one (Rupert's journey to Tesla's and the premiere of new trick) set in the near past, and one (the long rivalry between the two young magicians) set in the more distant past. Cutter is the metaphysical deus ex machina. The two friends become deadly enemies after one's wife is killed by the other's mistake, but we wonder if the real reason of their hatred for each other is the beastly desire to outdo each other as magicians. It is a lifelong duel that requires the utmost sacrifice, and ends up with they destroying their families and their selves. The winner in the end is not any more humane than the loser but he is indeed the better magician; and ironically his trick is a very old one, while his rival employed advanced science.

Cutter (Michael Caine) is an old magician who explains the art to a little girl (and to the audience of the film). Alfred is convicted of killing his old friend Rupert after Cutter refuses to testify at the trial, in order not to disclose a valuable secret. The attorney of a mysterious lord visits Alfred in jail and offers money to purchase the secret of all his tricks. Alfred refuses, even if this means that his daughter will be at the mercy of the lord. In the near past, Rupert, a crippled wealthy magician, travels to the remote village where the mad inventor Tesla has built his laboratory. Rupert, who has been reading Alfred's encrypted diary, wants to purchase the invention that Tesla has sold to Alfred. Deeper in the past, Rupert and Alfred are shown as two young assistants who are tired of the old tricks and set out to create new ones. Cutter sends them to watch a Chinese magician. They figure out how he performs his tricks, but, most importantly, they realize what it takes to become a great magician: a lifetime sacrifice. Rupert starts his show with help from Cutter and a beautiful assistant, Juliet, who becomes his wife and gives his show the name "Great Danton". Alfred, on the other hand, meets Sarah while performing in a humble establishment in front of few people. Tragedy strikes when Juliet drowns to death, probaly because Alfred did not tie her feet properly. This turns the two friends into deadly enemies. Alfred and Sarah get a married and have a baby (the child that Cutter was talking to), while Rupert is condemned to live alone, despite enjoying a greater professional success.

When Alfred tests a new dangerous trick in front of a rowdy audience, Rupert, disguised as a spectator, volunteers to help and causes an accident that cuts two fingers off Alfred's hand: it's the beginning of his revenge against the man who, in Rupert's mind, killed his wife. When Cutter trains Rupert for a new trick, it is Alfred who ruins it. In the more recent past, Rupert reads Alfred's diary also to find out if Alfred caused Juliet's death on purpose or not. It looks like Alfred honestly does not know. Tesla finally accepts to build for Rupert the mysterious machine that will allow to perform the most amazing of all tricks. Alfred is convinced that Tesla once built one for Rupert. In the present, Alfred accepts the deal with the mysterious lord in order to save his daughter. Alfred is visited and advised by a mysterious man, who was also his main assistant, Fallon. In the distant past, Rupert sees Alfred perform a new trick that consists in appearing in two places, something that looks like real magic. The only way that Cutter is capable of reproducing that trick is by hiring a double for Rupert and train him to impersonate the magician: Rupert disappears in one box and the double appears in the other one. The double is a failed actor, friend of Olivia, who unfortunately is drunk all the time. Rupert is dissatisfied that he cannot match his rival's trick without cheating with a double. Cutter insists that this is the only way to perform the "transportation" but Rupert is convinced that Alfred is using some kind of new magic. In the recent past, Rupert is invited to Tesla's lab to view the first demonstration of the transportation machine, but the test is a failure: Tesla bombards a hat with electrical discharges but the hat doesn't move. Subsequent tests also fail. Tesla confesses that he never built any such machine before, therefore Rupert was wrong to assume that Alfred used Tesla's machine to perform his "transportation" trick. In the distant past, Rupert sends his gorgeous assistant Olivia to steal Alfred's secret, but Olivia, disgusted of being used like a spy despite her love for Rupert, decides to join forces with Alfred. In fact, she soon becomes her lover and tells him how Rupert had to hire a double. Rupert's double is a stupid drunk, but Alfred explains to him that Rupert's show depends on having a double, and therefore the double starts blackmailing Rupert and Cutter. Finally, one evening Alfred bribes the double and appears on stage when Rupert disappears, telling the audience to come to see his show instead, which is opening across the street, while causing an injury to Rupert that makes him a cripple for the rest of his life (he removed the mattress on which Rupert fell every evening when disappearing). Olivia does steal Alfred's secret diary and hands him over to Rupert. Then Rupert uses violence to obtain the key to decode the encrypted diary. The keyword is: Tesla. That's how Rupert got the diary before starting his journey for Tesla's laboratory. Cutter decides not to follow him on that mad journey, afraid of Rupert's obsession. Meanwhile, Alfred's wife Sarah, scared by his obsession, wants Alfred to stop performing tricks.

Rupert keeps waiting for Tesla's invention, but it keeps failing. Upon leaving the laboratory, however, Rupert realizes that Tesla's invention has always worked: it was supposed to transport a hat, and, while the hat never moved, a whole bunch of hats are to be found outside the lab. Tesla only has to perfect the invention so that the original is destroyed. But the people of the village attack the lab and destroy it. Rupert rescues the machine and takes it back with him, determined to use it to beat Alfred's legendary (and still unexplained) transporter trick. Meanwhile he has finished reading Alfred's diary and realized that the diary is worthless: Alfred told Olivia to give it to him just to waste his time.

In the present, now it is Alfred, locked in a prison, who is reading Rupert's diary in which Rupert narrates all these facts. Sarah, fed up with Alfred, who seems to be a different man every day, commits suicide. Rupert, back in town with the transporter machine after two years, premieres the new trick. Alfred is among the audience that is left speechless by the disappearance of Rupert and his istantaneous reappearance in another place of the theater. Now it is Alfred who goes crazy trying to understand the secret of Rupert's trick. Thus the next time Alfred is among the spectators who volunteer to check the machine, and then walks straight backstage to witness what happens. Rupert falls from a trap door into a water tank and... drowns under Alfred's eyes. Alfred tries in vain to save him. Ironically, Alfred is arrested (and later convicted) for killing Rupert when in fact he tried to save him.

In the present the mysterious lord shows up at the prison with Alfred's daughter in order to finalize their deal: it turns out the mysterious lord is Rupert himself, alive and well. Alfred is mystified that Rupert managed to stage the ultimate trick: to resuscitate. Alfred accepts to give him the secret of his trick, but Rupert is no longer interested: he now is the better magician. And he walks away with Alfred's daughter, the ultimate revenge for Alfred causing the death of his wife. Even Cutter is puzzled how Rupert managed to resuscitate: Rupert never allowed him to watch what happened backstage during the "disappearance". Alfred says goodbye to his partner Fallon. Alfred is hanged. But minutes later he appears alive again with a gun in his hand and shoots Rupert to death. Before Rupert dies, Alfred explains that he had a twin brother. The trick of transportation was actually quite simple: it was two twins appearing in two different places. The one who was hanged was his twin brother, who was also Olivia's lover. Rupert's secret was more gruesome: Tesla's machine allowed him to reappear elsewhere, but at the price of creating a clone. Thus the water tank was defective on purpose: every everning Rupert killed himself. He drowned every single night in order to perform the trick without creating multiple copies of himself. Alfred was no less determined to sacrifice his life for the art: his brother had to cut two fingers in order to impersonate him in the transporting trick. Cutter delivers the daughter to Alfred (the first scene): what reappears is what had disappeared, and in this case it is a father.

Nolan then directed another Batman movie, The Dark Knight (2008), which would be followed by yet another Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Inception (2010), partially inspired by Satoshi Kon's Paprika, is another thought experiment, but this time Nolan dilutes it with many stereotypes of action cinema (starting with the slection of the criminal characters of the gang and ending with the smiling faces of the gang after the success via the chaotic shootout scenes and the car chase scenes) and with stereotypes of the romantic melodrama (the eternal love of the married couple, the reunion of the father with his children). While logically consistent and mathematician-proof, the plot is wildly implausible. The excessive action scenes further detract from the intellectual game. That, in turn, is occasionally pedantic, as the characters often enunciate the rules of the game rather than just playing them. However, the theme of the "dream within a dream" (and recursively so) resonates with the contemporary interest in virtual realities. It would have been more interesting probably if Nolan had made it sound less like a computer world and more like a psychiatric world. The ambiguous ending lends itself to either interpretation (is it all a dream or not?) and that's where Nolan's metaphysics truly shines: the protagonist doesn't pay attention to what the spinning top does (is not interested in whether it's a dream or not), but we do.
The whole film is also itself an "inception". That's what filmmakers do: they create an idea inside the mind of the spectator. What we are watching is actually filmmaking itself. Dom is a metaphor for the filmmaker, who implants the idea in our minds. Saito is the producer who asks Dom to make the film and pays for it. Arthur and Yusuf are the assistant directors who have to implement Dom's inspiration. Maybe Yusuf is also the stuntman. Eames represents the actors who forge identities. Ariadne is the choreographer who designs the set (and maybe also the scriptwriter who writes the story because the plot depends on the maze that she designed). And Robert represents us, the spectators who get the idea implanted into their brain.

Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio) wakes up on a beach. He sees his two children playing in the sand. Clearly it's a dream. He only has a gun and a tiny spinning top. Gunmen drag him to a building where he meets and old Japanese man, Saito. Saito asks him if he is there to kill him.
Dom, dressed in a suit and tie, meets a much younger version of the same Saito at the same place. Dom, behaving like a salesman, explains that he specializes in "extraction", the technology of how to search the subconscious of a person to extract the most hidden secrets. Saito doesn't quite buy it.
Bombs explode, causing riots in the streets.
At a cocktail party Dom meets a melancholy young attractive woman. He tells her that he cannot trust her. She asks about their children: she is his wife Mal.
At night Dom enters Saito's place armed with a gun, and watches a person open the safe, but is caught in the act by his wife and Saito. They also took prisoner his partner Arthur. Saito mentions that they are all actually asleep. As a demonstration, Mal shoots Arthur in the leg. Dom grabs a gun and shoots his way out. A chaotic shootout follows. Dom grabs the secret he was looking for and runs away. Arthur is setting bombs and... tells the staff to wake up Dom. Dom wakes up just when he was reading the secret.
The riot continues in the streets following the bombs while Dom is negotiating with Saito. Saito found out what they were up to, that Dom and Arthur were paid to extract information from him by a corporation, and has hidden from them a key piece of information. The crowd is getting closer.
On a bullet train a young Japanese assistant of Saito puts headsets on a sleeping Saito and turns on the device that makes people dream. This kid is in cahoots with Dom to extort Saito's secret.
Meanwhile the crowd enters Saito's building and attacks them.
In the train car Saito wakes up and checks his arm, apparently knowing what has happened: the Japanese boy is the only one left next to him, whereas Dom's gang has disappeared.
In a luxury apartment of a high-rise building Dom contemplates the spinning top (that comes to a stop) while handling a gun. He talks to his children on the phone. Dom mentions that he cannot go home. Arthur enters the room and Dom apologizes that his leg was shot by Mal in their dream. Arthur is upset that Mal keeps infiltrating Dom's dreams and screwing up their planned operations. They walk to the roof of the skyscraper and Saito kidnaps them in his helicopter. Saito's men have captured their "architect" and this man told Saito where to find Dom and Arthur. Dom, Arthur and the architect were working for a corporation that hired them to steal Saito's secret, and Saito was aware of the plot and let them try because he wanted to test them. Somehow the corporation now wants them dead because they failed the operation. Now Saito wants to become their customer, but he does not want "extraction" of a secret: he wants an "inception", which consists in planting an idea into someone's mind, the opposite of what Dom normally does. As a reward, Saito offers to use his power and influence to allow Dom to go home to his children. Dom cannot go because he is wanted for a crime that he committed. Arthur doesn't want to do the job because he thinks it's impossible but Dom is tempted by the reward and he knows that it is possible: he did it once. He has lived in exile for a long time and can't wait to see his children again.
Dom visits his father-in-law, an old university professor, the man who taught him how to navigate people's minds. Dom asks for his help. Dom doesn't explain why, but Dom refuses to be the architect of his own dreams, the one who designs the layout. His father-in-law introduces him to a young girl, Ariadne. Dom explains to her how it works: she has to create the setting for the dream, and he wants a maze that cannot be solved in a short time. (In Greek mythology, Ariadne is the girl who helps Theseus to escape from the Minotaur’s labyrinth). He shows her that she is actually dreaming: she can't tell how she got there, which is how you know you're in a dream. Things start exploding around them while they are comfortably sitting at a cafe: it's a demonstration of what Dom can do inside her dream. She gets injured when shattered glass hits her head and she wakes up.
Later she takes him into a dream that has a real bridge. That bridge was the site of a romantic moment between Dom and his wife Mal. Dom warns Ariadne to never mix memory and dream because the effect would be catastrophic. His wife Mal appears and stabs the girl. That's why Dom can't be the architect of his own dreams: he would mix memory and dream, and he is still obsessed with the memory of his wife. Arthur explains to Ariadne that she needs a "totem", an object that will help her to decide whether she is inside a dream or not. Dom is using his wife's old totem, a spinning top which he believes spins endlessly without toppling when he is inside a dream (but note that it is actually his wife's totem, not his own). Arthur explains to Ariadne that the mysterious woman of the dream is Dom's wife Mal, who is dead.
Dom needs a forger to impersonate someone, and travels to Africa to find an old acquaintance who is the best forger ever, Eames. The plan is to implant a simpler version of an idea and then let it grow into the subject's mind. Saito's goal (and therefore Dom's mission) is to convince Robert, the son of a dying tycoon, to undo his father's powerful conglomerate.
Dom also drafts Yusuf, a chemist who specializes in powerful sedatives to make people dream. He will provide the sedative to put Robert to sleep and make him dream with Dom. Dom actually envisions a multiple-level dream: a dream within a dream within a dream. Saito wants to go with them because he wants to make sure of the result. Dom subjects himself to Yusuf's potion and dreams his wife in realistic fashion.
They work out the plan to implant the idea of dissolving the conglomerate in Robert's mind. In order to get to the son they will need to use the godfather "uncle Peter" as a Trojan horse, and Eames will do the impersonation. Dom cannot keep Mal out of his dreams. Mal is an obstacle: she enters his dreams all the time and she could sabotage the plan. Hence Dom doesn't want to know anything of the maze that Ariadne is planning, because Mal would learn it from him. He tells Ariadne that he is suspected of killing Mal. That's the crime that would send him to jail for the rest of his life if he ever reentered the USA.
The gang is ready: Dom, Arthur, Eames, Ariadne, Yusuf, Saito. They need ten hours of Robert dreaming to carry out the project. Saito asuggests a long-haul flight: Saito owns the airline and arranges a first-class cabin all for them and the complicity of a flight attendant. The destination is the USA, where Saito pledges to get Saito through customs (if the mission is accomplished). Each dream within a dream takes place in a world where time is greatly dilated, so the second level will last days and the third level will last years even if in reality it will take just the ten hours of the flight to the USA.
Ariadne enters one of Dom's dream and eavesdrops on him and his wife. They see her and he is upset but can't help continuing to dream his wife, who tries in vain to convince him that his children are there, in the dream. Ariadne realizes that these are not dreams but memories: he is breaking his own rules when keeping his wife alive. Terrified, Ariadne runs away from Dom's memory/dream, but ends up in their apartment alone with the wife, who tries to kill her and Dom saves her just in time.
They wake up to find that the tycoon, Robert's father, has died. The plan is set in motion. The gang boards the plane with Robert. At the end of that flight in the USA Dom would be arrested by immigration authorities but, if he succeeds in the "inception", Saito will make a call and Dom's crime will be erased from the database. On the flight Dom, pretending to be a Mr Charles, starts chatting with the tycoon's son, Robert, their target. They serve him the sedative and start the first dream. They kidnap Robert as he is waiting for a taxi but then something unexpected happens: a train appears in the middle of the city street running through traffic and demolishing dozens of cars. On top of it, gunmen attack the car and Saito is shot Ariadne is puzzled: she did not put the train in the layout. She realizes it must be Mal's interference. Dom realizes that the gunmen were trained to roam dreams: they obey an enemy, and that enemy can only be the tycoon himself. They are projections in Robert's dream trying to free him from the kidnappers. Dom argues with Arthur who wants to wake up Saito to save his life. The others want to back out but Dom convinces them that they would all be killed by the gunmen. They interrogate Robert and pretend to torture the godfather (actually the forger) to make Robert talk: they want the combination of his father's safe. The forger (disguised as Peter the godfather/uncle) alone with Robert tells Robert that he doesn't know the combination. Robert still claims that he was never given the combination by his father. The forger tells Robert that there is a secret will that will ruin Robert. Robert has no problem believing it because his father's last words were "disappointed".
Dom confesses to Ariadne that he spent 50 years with his wife in a dream within a dream within a dream. The limbo became her reality. She wanted to wake up and go back to reality, and got convinced that they had to kill themselves in order to achieve that goal. She thought that even the children were just projections. She thought if she died she would wake up. She blackmailed him: she told him that she wrote letters that would incriminate him if she died, so he would lose the children anyway. She jumped from the window, hoping he would do the same. He didn't, and then had to flee the country before being arrested for her murder, as her last letters incriminated him. She made this to make sure that he would jump with her, since, if he didn't, he would lose his wife and his children anyway. (Mal jumps from the window of a room in the building facing the building where their room is, possibly implying that this whole scene is a dream too, but that's why Dom cannot grab her before she jumps). Ariadne is the only one who knows that at any point in time Dom's wife might further complicate their plans with Robert.
Robert, forced at gunpoint by a masked Dom to guess, utters the random numbers 528491. (These digits are coming from his subconscious so they might mean something even if in the dream he thinks they mean nothing). Saito is dying. Dom's gang gets into a van with Robert and everybody goes to sleep and dream, except for Yusuf who drives. However, the gunmen find the van and start chasing it.
Dom's gang descends into another level of dreaming, where Robert at a luxury hotel is approached by Mr Charles, the passenger on the plane, which is Dom in diguise. Dom/Charles tells Robert that he is working as a security officer for the subconscious, prentending to protect him (Robert) from people who are trying to enter his subconscious and steal the combination of the safe. Dom/Charles tells Robert that he is inside a dream, and, to prove it, asks him to remember how he arrived at this hotel. Robert is convinced and trusts Dom. Meanwhile, Dom keeps seeing the last scene before he fled the house, his children playing outside and not showing him their faces. In this second level of dreaming Saito is only coughing. Meanwhile at the first level of dreaming the gunmen are shooting at them asleep in the van while Yusuf tries to keep the van steady despite the high-speed car chase so that the members of the gang and Robert can dream safely.
Dom/Charles helps Robert to remember what just happened: that he was kidnapped, the safe, the combination... Robert tells him the random number. The godfather/uncle, who is actually the forger, brought in front of Robert, confesses to Robert that he is in cahoots with the kidnappers. Dom convinces Robert to go to sleep to get into the godfather's subconscious to find out his real motives. Arthur is the one who stays behind to control this second dream just like Yusuf is behind in the van in the first dream.
In the first dream the chase continues, the van swerving wildly and crashing into a ravine which causes the second dream, the hotel level, to experience a loss of gravity. Arthur starts fighting with the tycoon's agents on walls and ceilings. The van miraculously remains intact and the hotel dream can continue. In this second dream the numbers 528 and 491 are room numbers.
In the third dream Robert and Charles are in snow-capped mountains with Ariadne and the forger, all them suddenly dressed in polar uniforms. The gunmen followed them in this third dream and continue the chase and the shootout in the snow. Arthur fights other gunmen in the hotel in the second dream. There are gunmen fighting them at all levels: Yusuf's level (the van's level), Arthur's level (the hotel's level) and the forger's level (the mountain's level). The van falls off a bridge causing an avalanche in the mountain two dream levels down. The gang realizes that they have precious little time before the van hits the water. It will take a while, however, because time is dilated at their level. At the hotel's level Arthur is sent flying without gravity. In the third dream, more gunfight ensues in the snow as Robert heads for a mythical fortress that represents his godfather's subconscious.
Yusuf's van in the first dream is slowly falling off the bridge. Arthur, still in zero gravity in the second dream's hotel, ties up Dom's gang that is still dreaming and pushes them floating in the air towards the elevator. One dream level below him, Robert acts like Hercules on his quest. Robert is entering the fortress, fighting all sorts of enemies, and is eventually confronted by Mal. Robert is real, Mal is a projection. Mal, still interfering with Dom's dreams, kills Robert, but Dom shoots Mal. Dom declares failure because Robert is dead, but Ariadne convinces him that there is a way to rescue Robert for the few seconds required in a dream inside that dream.
Dom and Ariadne get one more level down (another dream within the dream), leaving the forger at the mountain's level, and this time they find themselves drifting out of the ocean. Dom and Ariadne leave the beach and advance through a ruined city towards a futuristic landscape that Dom and Mal built from memories over 50 years (of dilated time), corresponding to five years of real time, when they used to live at that very deep dream level. Up one level the battle continues in the fortress. Up one more level Arthur is pushing the sleeping gang into the elevator. Up one more level the van with the sleeping gang is falling in the river. The time scales are different: the van is shown in extremely slow motion. Saito is now dying at all levels.
Arthur is struggling to find a way to wake up the gang from their sleep at the right time. Yusuf told him that, at that level of dreaming, the gang will wake up only if they feel that they are falling. Arthur takes them to the elevator and then sets explosives so that the elevator will crash (never mind that there is no gravity during this dream and therefore the elevator should not crash but simply explode). Meanwhile the dying Saito blows up a grenade to kill the gunmen who are chasing Arthur and dies.
Dom has one more secret for Ariadne, and it comes out when they find Mal, waiting for them in an ordinary apartment, with the children. It turns out that it was Dom who planted the idea in her mind that they had to die in order to return to reality. The reason why Dom knows that inception is possible is because he did it to his wife. He implanted in her the idea that dying was the only way to escape the dream. He talked her into committing suicide together on railway tracks and they were killed by a train (which explains the train that pops up in his dream). It is not clear how they reached back to reality since their death would have sent them back only one level of dreaming, not all the way to reality, but this is not explained. Unfortunately, when they woke up in reality, the idea was still in her mind: she still believed that she was in a dream and that killing herself was the only way to escape. She would not believe that now she was back to reality. Once implanted, the idea survived the dream. In a sense, Dom did kill Mal.
Mal is willing to let them succeed in programming Robert if Dom surrenders to her. Dom is stabbed by Mal when he tells her that she is not real, that he incepted the idea in her mind, that she is just an inferior copy of the real wonderful Mal. This time it is Ariadne who shoots and kills Mal.
Eames briefly resurrects Robert with a fibrillator. Robert, still looking for his godfather's subconscious, finally reaches the gate of the snow fortress and opens it, and finds his dying father. Robert's father opens the safe and shows that there is no will. He whispers something to the extent that Robert should be his own man: not "disappointed" but "disappointed that he tried". Dom has changed the ending to incept into Robert's mind the idea that his father wanted him to dismantle the conglomerate. Eames the forger blows up the fortress so they will get killed. Arthur is letting the elevator crash and kill them. Yusuf's van is sinking in the river and killing all of them. Arthur kills them in the second dream and Eames the forger kills them in the third dream and Ariadne kills Robert and kills herself in the third dream, so that everybody wakes up except Dom and Saito, trapped in the limbo of people who die in their dreams without waking up: Saito because he died and Dom because he chose to. The others all wake up to continue the first dream and swim out of the van. In that dream (first level) Robert tells his godfather Peter (actually Eames the forger) that his father wants him to be his own man, not to continue the conglomerate: the mission has succeeded.
Dom is looking for Saito in the limbo. Dom wakes up on the beach (the first scene) and is taken to Saito's place, a house on a cliff. Saito is now very old because at that level time speeds up, and one second is many years. The spinning top is spinning: the world is not real. With some difficulty, they remember their old agreement and renew the pledge. And now we understand why Saito asks whether Dom is there to kill him: yes, they both have to die in order for them to travel back to the previous level of dreaming, after which they will die one level after the other (the explosion of the fortress, the elevator crash, the sinking van) until they reemerge to reality. Dom does not kill Saito: we only see Saito grab Dom's gun and presumably killing himself and Dom.
Dom wakes up on the plane. He's about to land, The flight is over. Everybody is smiling because the mission succeeded. Robert is sitting in his seat and has decided to dismantle the conglomerate. Saito is alive and makes the phone call that lets Dom go through immigration. His father-in-law is waiting for him at the airport exit. At his father-in-law's home, Dom finally hugs his children. The children turn and look at their father for the first time in the movie. The camera focuses on the spinning top that is endlessly spinning, signaling that he is still inside a dream, but Dom is not wearing the wedding ring that he seems to wear in every dream. Dom, on the other hand, doesn't bother to find out: he spins the thing but then rushes to hug his children, indifferent to whether the spinning top will topple or not, indifferent to whether it's a dream or reality. Whether the spinning top falls or not may be irrelevant since it is the totem of his wife, and therefore it only establishes whether his wife is dreaming or not, and she is dead. Nowhere are we told that the totem can be transferred to someone else.
To further confuse the ending, the children tell Dom that they have just built a “house on a cliff” which is precisely where Dom found Saito.
The role that Dom's father-in-law had in this whole story/dream remains mysterious.

The science is fairly ridiculous in the science-fiction saga Interstellar (2014), so that the film alternates moment of genius and moments of embarrassing silliness. The one moment of real pathos in the film comes when the protagonist is duped by the evil astronaut and left to die alone on a distant planet. That's human nature too: survival instinct and selfishness. The other great moment is when we realize that the ghost is none other than the protagonist himself trapped in another dimension after a journey through curved spacetime. The film is marred by ridiculous special effects.

The film begins with television interviews in which farmers complain about the dust and the blight that is killing their crops. Cooper, a former pilot who still has nightmares about a plane crash, lives in one such farms with his aging father and his two children. The girl, Murphy, is sure that there is a ghost in her room who messes with her library. Someone is burning his crop. Cooper drives his kids away, but gets a flat tire. He is fascinated by a drone flying low over the prairie and starts driving crazy through the fields, armed with a laptop and a gun. The drone lands in a reservoir and Cooper steals it. The world needs food, i.e. farmers, not engineers, so the schools are discouraging kids like Cooper's son Tom to go to college. Schools are rewriting history books to remove any reference to space exploration and the Moon landing. A dust storm ruins a baseball game. The supernatural force draws dust patterns in Murph's room. The father realizes that the "ghost" is sending a message: the coordinates of some place. This leads them to a secret base where he is promptly arrested and interrogated by a robot. The base is run, of all people, by his former boss, an old man who has managed to keep space exploration alive. Humankind is doomed and there is a secret project to either find a habitable planet or to create a colony (via thousands of frozen embryos) somewhere else to save the race. Thanks to a wormhole that has mysteriously appeared out of nowhere, this entity has been able to ship a dozen astronauts to another part of the universe and three of them have found interesting lands. The old scientist is trying to figure out how to bend gravity to turn it into a fuel for space travel. Meanwhile, he needs a pilot for the spacecraft that will go and rescue those three astro-scouts. (Nobody seems to be puzzled about the mysterious force that sent Cooper to this secret base). Cooper readily accepts the mission, even if it means leaving behind his struggling family. Cooper's mission is to find a new home for humankind while the scientist figures out how to solve the puzzle of gravity. Cooper leaves his kids with granpa despite a supernatural message that spells STAY and an angry Murph, and takes off with the scientist's pretty daughter Amelia, two astronauts and two robots. The spacecraft goes through a wormhole and flies by galaxies and black holes in hours. They reach one of the three planets, Miller's planet, where every hour corresponds to seven years on Earth. Cooper and Amelia survive a giant tidal wave. By the time they return to the spaceship, 23 years have elapsed. Cooper listens to a message from his son who graduated from college, got married and had a baby. His has died. Murph is still angry at him but eventually she too leaves him a (bitter) message because she is now the age he was when he left. Murph has become the old scientist's trusted assistant and knows enough to understand that the scientist never made any progress on his research. The scientist, now confined to a wheelchair, has lost any hope of ever solving the puzzle of gravity, but Murph is determined to find where he was wrong. Meanwhile, Cooper's spaceship lands on another planet, Mann's planet, which, according to Mann's reports, should be very hospitable to human life. Cooper finds the hybernated astronaut alive. Meanwhile, Amelia receives the message that her father, the old scientist, has died. Murph has realized that it was all a sham. In fact, the resurrected Mann tells Cooper and Amelia that the old scientist cheated them into believing he was trying to save ther people of Earth when in fact he was simply looking for an excuse to send a few people on a planet where they could start a colony and keep the race alive. (The scientist cared about the human race in abstract terms, not about the individuals on Earth who are about to starve to death). The situation on Earth has become desperate: there are long convoys of refugees everywhere. And Murphy can still feel the ghost in her room. She senses that the solution to the gravity puzzle has to do with the ghost. On the distant planet Mann proves to be an evil coward: he always knew that the planet was not habitable but he made the base believe otherwise so that they would send someone to rescue him. Now how tries to kill Cooper and steal the spaceship to return to Earth. Meanwhile on Earth, Murph tries in vain to convince her brother to leave the ancestral house before it is too late: they are all dying asphyxiated by noxious gases. On the distant planet Mann leaves Cooper to die. Cooper manages to call Amelia for help. On Earth the apocalypse continues and Murph sets fire to her brother's crops in order to force his family to leave the farm. Cooper is rescued by Amelia just in time, but Mann has stolen the ship. He damages it before dying in it. On Earth the grown scientist Murph wanders in the old room of Murph the child, watching a malfunctioning watch. Mann is dead and the ship is spinning out of control, but Cooper manages to dock nonetheless (of course). Cooper, Amelia and and a robot are the only survivors of the interstellar ordeal, but they have to sacrifice the robot and then Cooper sacrifices himself to make sure that Amelia can land safely on the third (and hopefully habitable) planet, Edmunds, and start a colony with the frozen sperm. This has taken 51 Earthly years. Cooper plunges into spacetime and finds himself trapped behind a bookcase and realizes he is behind his daughter's bedroom. He tries in vain to communciate with his child Murph: he is the ghost in Murph's room! Cooper is the one who wrote STAY to Murph to stop himself from leaving. He can see himself leaving that day for the mission. The adult Murph is now on the other side of the wall, and she finally gets it: the ghost was her father Cooper and he is communicating something to her via the watch. Cooper is sending her the data she needs to solve the gravity puzzle. She writes down the message that she can read in the watch's hand and she finds solution that the old scientist never found. Cooper wakes up 125 years later but at the same age as when he left in a space station orbiting Saturn where humankind is surviving. Murph, having saved humankind, is an old woman lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. They rebuilt the house as a museum and the interviews shown at the beginning of the film were the videos that accompany the museum's visitor. Cooper resurrects the robot. Cooper visits his old daughter at the hospital. He is a lot younger than her. He parts from her and travels through the wormhole to find Amelia, who is is creating a new colony on Edmunds in another galaxy.

Dunkirk (2017) is a war movie with an impressive waste of visuals and sounds, but limited by a tenuous and sometimes confusing plot. Very little happens, other than a lot of people dying in a lot of horrifying ways. The only character that stands out is the quiet hero who stubbornly offers his boat to rescue the stranded soldiers. Other than the tragedy of this common man, the film is little more than relentless bombast. The metaphorical landing of the shot airplane on the deserted beach and the surrender of its pilot to the enemy looks like a desperate attempt to inject some moral conclusion to a film that mostly seems about selfishness and cowardice. The French soldier pretends to be British because that would get him on the first rescue boat. He and a British soldier pretend to save a wounded soldier for the same reason. A boat commander accidentally kills a teenage boy in the boat that saved his life because he doesn't want to rescue others. And so forth. Technically speaking, the film is three films in one, each across a different temporal dimension: the land odyssey (that lasts one week), the boat odyssey (that lasts one day) and the air odyssey (that lasts one hour)

Paper is falling from the sky as six British soldiers walked a deserted street in France during World War II: it is German propaganda telling them that they are surrounded, which is true. More than 300,000 British and French soldiers are surrounded at Dunkirk, a beach facing Britain, desperately waiting for Britain to rescue them. The six soldiers are suddenly attacked by Germans and killed one by one, except Tommy, who reaches the beach. At the beach (hardly upset) he hides behind a dune to take a dump and sees another soldier burying a naked man. It is obvious that this soldiers has stolen the uniform and the boots of the dead man ("Gibson" reads the name on the uniform), but Tommy does not ask questions. Tommy helps him dig the grave and then the two walk towards the long line of soldiers waiting at the beach. Just then German bombers strike, killing many.
The British government has requested all boat owners to head to Dunkirk and help with the rescue efforts. An old man is ready to obey. As he takes off, a teenager, George, joins him and his son. As they head out of the port, they see a big boat carrying soldiers back home.
Three British pilots fly towards Dunkirk trying to intercept the German planes that hammer the fleeing British troops. One is shot almost immediately by the Germans.
Tommy and "Gibson" see a wounded man and immediately improvise a stretcher to carry the wounded man towards the ship. The reason is not that they care for the wounded man but that this enables them to jump the line, as wounded soldiers have priority. However, they are not allowed to follow the wounded man on board. They hide in the supporting beams of the pier while their comrades are being mercilessly bombarded by the enemy. During these chaotic moments we hear that only British soldiers are allowed on British ships: the French soldiers are sent back.
The humble boat rescues a soldier who is the lone survivor of a shipwreck. The soldier is under shock. When he realizes that the old man is headed to Dunkirk, he demands to turn the boat towards England. The old man's son locks him downstairs.
The ship that didn't take Tommy and "Gibson" sinks, and the duo saves Alex. As they are hiding under the pier, they overhear a general confess that Britain has decided to save ships and airplanes for an expected battle in Britain, thus de facto condemning most of the soldiers of Dunkirk to be exterminated by the enemy. "Gibson" never speaks.
One of the two planes that took off at the beginning is hit and he only has fuel for a few more minutes.
Tommy and Gibson are rescued by another ship with dozens of soldiers. The soldiers celebrate in the warm ship, while Gibson mysteriously remains outside, shivering in the cold night. He is therefore to see the torpedo coming: the torpedo sinks the boat and many drown. Gibson, though, opens a door that allows Tommy and Alex to escape. This multitude of man swimming for their lives are denied help by the commander of a lifeboat, who is the same soldier rescued by the old man (clearly this happened before the old man set out to sea). They swim back to the beach. They see a soldier jump into the waters, presumably tired of living.
The old man insists on heading to Dunkirk. The soldiers whom he rescued escapes the cabin and tries to force the old man to give up. George defends the old man and is accidentally hit by the soldier. He lies blind in the boat.
The trio of Gibson, Tommy and Alex see a group of soldiers marching towards an abandoned fishing vessel that lies outside the safe perimeter. They enter it and wait patiently for the rising tide to push it into the sea.

The Germans start shooting at the fishing boat on the beach where the trio is hiding with the other soldiers. This creates tension, as the boat will sink instead of floating when the tide rises. Alex suspects that Gibson is a German spy because Gibson never speaks. Gibson is forced to speak at gunpoint and confesses that he is a French soldier (obviously he stole the uniform of the dead British soldier because he knew that British soldiers have priority in the evacuation). Alex wants to get rid of him in order to make the boat lighter. Tommy defends Gibson. The fishing boat sinks and Gibson drowns anyway.
Alex and Tommy swim towards another larger ship.
The old man sees a British fighter plane crash into the sea and steers the boat towards the plane. The pilot (one of the three of the first scenes) is trapped inside. The old man's son saves him by breaking the glass of the cockpit.
The third pilot is still flying towards Dunkirk, even if his plane is rapidly running out of fuel.
The general on the beach sees the fleet of small vessels approaching Dunkirk and is moved to tears.
The old man's boat passes the ship where Alex and Tommy are. Minutes later the ship is bombed and starts sinking, with more men dumped in the sea amid black oil. The old man, his teenage son, the rescued pilot and the rescued commander help dozens of the soldiers, including Tommy, into the boat until the commander sees a plane plunge into the sea (shot down by the surviving British plane) The commander realizes that the plane will explode and set fire to the sea of oil and shouts to the old man to leave as fast as possible. The old man understands and the boat leaves just before the whole sea explodes burning alive all the soldiers that are still in the sea. Meanwhile, George has died, killed not by the Germans but by a fellow countryman.
The surviving pilot reaches Dunkirk just in time to shoot down a German plane that could have killed all the remaining soldiers line up on the pier. Then he flies over the troops lined up at the beach, but the engines are not roaring anymore as the plane has no more fuel.
The old man's boat makes it to England and the soldiers join many others on the military train. Tommy reads the prime minister's speech in the newspaper.
The old man walks away as the soldiers depart for the train. His son reports to the local newspaper that George died and the following day the newspaper runs an article about the young local hero.
The surviving pilot lands on the beach, which is now deserted, burns the plane and surrenders to the Germans.
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