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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

John P. McHale


This study investigated how Christopher Nolan creates and uses strategic ambiguity in two of his films, The Prestige (2006) and Inception (2010). To do so, I studied these films through the lens of film semiotics and narrative theory while using a constant comparative analysis to identify and compare techniques Nolan utilizes. The study found that Nolan uses similar techniques across both films: editing, narrative disorder, narrative gaps, ambiguous language, illogic, twists, and recurring motifs. However, the techniques in The Prestige are used to create moral ambiguity and a twist that resolves the narrative. The techniques in Inception are used to create narrative ambiguity and an ending that creates polysemic readings of the film. Implications and future research suggestions are also discussed.


Imported from ProQuest Ruiz_ilstu_0092N_11427.pdf


Page Count


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