The unbelievable practical effects Christopher Nolan has used because he hates CGI
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Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.
Christopher Nolan's movies truly are cinematic extravaganzas, and that's thanks in part to his incredible use of practical effects.
The filmmaker is behind some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, from The Dark Knight and Inception to Dunkirk and Interstellar.
Alongside his impeccable storytelling, Nolan's fond of filming in real locations using real set pieces with minimal CGI involved. You can check out five of his best shots below:
In an article for the Director's Guild of America, he explained: "The thing with computer-generated imagery is that it’s an incredibly powerful tool for making better visual effects.
"But I believe in an absolute difference between animation and photography.
"However sophisticated your computer-generated imagery is, if it’s been created from no physical elements and you haven’t shot anything, it’s going to feel like animation."
That's not to say he doesn't use any CGI in his movies, with the 52-year-old filmmaker adding: "We try to enhance our stunt work and floor effects with extraordinary CGI tools like wire and rig removals...
"I prefer films that feel more like real life, so any CGI has to be very carefully handled to fit into that."
The work that goes into creating his iconic scenes is beyond impressive, with writer and podcast host Trung Phan highlighting five of the best on Twitter.
Kicking off with Interstellar, the 2014 space epic starring Matthew McConaughey, Phan points out that Nolan spent $100,000 'to plant 500 real acres of corn in Alberta' for the iconic corn fields scene.
What's more, when the cameras stopped rolling, he even sold the crop for profit.
Also, let's give an honourable mention to the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, who composed the stunning Cornfield Chase for this exact scene.
Next up is the spinning hallway in Inception where Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Arthur fights some bad guys.
"Yeah, Nolan built a giant rotating centrifuge and put a hallway in it along with ridiculously expensive cameras," said Phan.
Of course, we can't talk about Nolan without giving a mention to The Dark Knight. The shot in question is the moment Batman flips the Joker's 18-wheeler lorry.
The podcaster explained: "To get the FX, a piston was put under the trailer with TNT. When the TNT blows, the piston hit the ground so hard, it flips the truck."
Sticking to his rule of minimal CGI use, the filmmaker only used the technique to remove the piston from the scene.
Moving onto Tenet, the 2020 sci-fi, Nolan crashed an actual Boeing 747 jet into an airport hanger to create the incredible shot you see above.
Fun fact - apparently it was actually cheaper to do it this way.
In a previous interview with Total Film, the director said: "I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest.
"We started to run the numbers... It became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size, and perform this sequence for real in camera, rather than build miniatures or go the CG route."
And last but definitely not least is the moment Bane (Tom Hardy) and his crew hijack a plane in The Dark Knight Rises.
As outlined by Phan: "Nolan filmed this scene in the Scottish Highlands, and got government sign-off to drop an airplane fuselage into the mountain range.
"The stunt crew was legit on the outside of the plane (jumped from a helicopter and wore parachutes)."
Impressive, eh? As you can see, Nolan's use of practical effects is one of many reasons he's so revered in the filmmaking world.