The 5 Most Insane Things Christopher Nolan Has Done On Set

The 5 Most Insane Things Christopher Nolan Has Done On Set
Image credit: Legion-Media

In the era of CGI on the big screen it is really hard to keep using old school methods to make movies which impress. Cinema goers are picky people and such filmmakers as James Cameron or David Fincher who rely heavily on computer generated imagery have spoilt the viewers.

In contrast, another great director, Christopher Nolan, is very selective about using CGI. In his interview with the Directors Guild of America he said that he did not rule out using CGI but he prefers "films that feel more like real life, so any CGI has to be very carefully handled to fit into that."

And the filmmaker was guided exactly by this principle when he recreated an atomic bomb blast in his 2023 historical drama Oppenheimer starring Cillian Murphy. This is undoubtedly one of the most insane things any director has ever done on set. Of course Nolan did not set off a nuclear bomb. Instead he recreated the Trinity Test exploding a great deal of TNT – so much TNT that the blast produced the effect of an atomic mushroom cloud. In his interview with Total Films, Nolan admitted that it was his "most challenging project".

It is certainly impressive, but what about growing a real field of corn? He did just that for his 2014 sci-fi Interstellar. Nolan planted some 200 hectares with corn and once the film production was over, he just sold the corn and even made a buck.

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Nolan also did something fantastic for his 2017 Dunkirk where instead of digitally adding people in big crowd scenes on the beach, Nolan used cardboard cut-outs. Talk old-school and inexpensive!

Another example of the filmmaker saying big NO to CGI was crashing a real double-decker Boeing into a building. This is a scene in Tenet, and to make it happen, Christopher Nolan just bought a 747. He originally wanted to use miniatures and set-piece builds but then decided that "it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size, and perform this sequence for real in camera." (via)

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But it was miniature planes which the filmmaker used in Dark Knight Rises' mid-air heist scene. And of course a lot of stunt work. In the end he even dropped a real plane because this is what Christopher Nolan does apparently when he makes his films.