For a filmmaker within the Hollywood system, Christopher Nolan is unusually pre-occupied with psychological human states to the degree that they often act as the primary theme of his films. ’s narrative structure is built around the short term memory limitations of its protagonist. explores the affects of extreme sleep deprivation as its lead character struggles to function in a state in which he is never fully awake or asleep, throwing into question his ability to interpret events accurately or remember them fully. Even Nolan’s Batman films are, at their core, concerned with creating a representation of the psychological state of someone who we can believe would turn himself into a vigilante and dress up as a bat. sits somewhat outside of this theme but also shares similarities with in its playing with the dichotomy between perception and reality.
is at its core the symbolic rendering of the psychoanalytic process through the representation of the dream world, which in a manifest form, functions as the narrative of the text and is the very architecture and location of the world(s) Nolan creates. It turns psychoanalytic ideas into a tangible narrative in order to explore them in a new way. In doing this it loses a good degree of the nuance, complexity and psychologically challenging aspects of psychoanalytic theory, but nevertheless Nolan produces a rather compelling case for the concepts of Freudian theory via such a creative, clever and ambitious work.
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What I think is original about is rather its integration of the psychoanalytic process into the very fabric of the narrative. There have been a number of films in which psychoanalysis is used as central to character development, or for example, and many more that explore psychoanalytic themes or which lend themselves highly to psychoanalytic interpretation (, , , to name just a few). does something different , however, which I will address by invoking some of the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis.