It’s 2018 and American culture feels at war with itself. Some of this is no doubt a spilling over of the bitter partisan division currently ripping at the fabric of the country. I think another aspect, however, comes from the rapid pace of technological and social change. The world is not the same one it was ten years ago – and who knows what things will look like a decade into the future. This uncertainty is reflected in our art, namely in the incredible popularity of nostalgia.
Imagine living in colonial times, stepping off your ship and onto the new world. Out from the brush comes a tribe of people you have never seen before. They are mostly naked, wearing only the skins of animals. Their most advanced weapon is the bow and arrow. Compared to you, in your shining metal armor and with a musket in hand, they appear positively primitive. Clearly yours is the advanced race… or maybe they didn’t even have the horse until around 1600… maybe it has more to do with that.
This is why history matters when composing setting.
“Are you watching closely?”
These are the first words in The Prestige, the first (credited) film that Jonathan Nolan co-wrote with his brother, Christopher. In Westworld, helmed by Jonathan Nolan, this cryptic first line became a writing mantra. Warning: spoilers to follow.