Doodlebug by Christopher Nolan: Saturday Night Short Film #1
Doodlebug shows that the director had it from the genesis of his career.
Before I discuss Doodlebug, I’d like to first welcome you to Saturday Night Short Film, a weekly series where I will explore the overlooked art of the short film. Every Saturday, instead of going out to party or being social at all, I will find a short film from any year, by any director, about anything… and I will give a brief commentary on it. I won’t be giving the short films a final review score and the articles won’t be as long as a normal review. I merely want to shine light on short films because they don’t get talked about nearly enough and are a different way to cinematically tell the story you want to tell.
Before Christopher Nolan killed our ears with the Inception BRAAAAM (or BWAAAA or BWOOOOONG) or annoyed us with his sound design choices, he made this short film. He made a couple shorts before that but Doodlebug is always the one I see people mentioning. I figured with the release of Tenet recently it would give me a good opportunity to go back and watch one of the few Nolan flicks that I haven’t seen.
I wish it wouldn’t have taken me as long as it did. Released in 1997, it’s wholeheartedly a representation of where Nolan would go. Early on you can already see how he plays with expectations and the format. It is obvious that even back then he was not at all interested in telling a conventional story. I know he would go on to make the excellent Dark Knight trilogy, but even with those he couldn’t just make a normal superhero movie.
The music creeped me out. It launches right into it and plays the song for the entire duration. That was a good choice because it’s an excellent piece of music to soundtrack the oddness of the events taking place.
The special effects look a little dated but this was 23 years ago and it’s not as if they are that distracting. It bothered me a little bit but then at the same time, there’s a certain endearing quality to how it looks. I actually think that the ending was potentially made even more effective by how low budget it looked. In fact, the nature of it might have made the entire short more impactful as I sit here and reflect on it. I just felt off when I was watching it; not disturbed but something didn’t feel right. Then when it was done I realized I loved it.
It only lasts three minutes, so even if you detest it, it won’t last long. Don’t read about it because it will ruin the experience. I strongly recommend this one.
If you want to see one of the most impressive first films I’ve ever seen, click here.