Larceny (lost Christopher Nolan short film; 1996)

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Larceny poster.jpeg

Poster for the short film. Possibly unofficial; source of the image unknown (particularly the top half).

Status: Lost

Larceny is a 1996 short film directed by Christopher Nolan. The film was created over the course of a single weekend in 1995 while Nolan was part of the University College London film society. He shot it using UCL film society equipment, including an Arriflex 16BL camera.[1][2] Similar to his debut feature film Following, it was a "no-budget" film funded solely by Nolan himself.

The short was only shown once, at the 1996 Cambridge Film Festival.[3] It was regarded as "one of the best (if not the best) shorts of filmsoc recent generations" by UCL film society and said to "[contain] some superb hand-held camera work, and a fast paced gripping story."

The film has a runtime between 8-9 minutes, contrary to what BFI lists.[4] This is supported by the UCL film society page and a Nolan interview conducted during the post-production of Memento.[5]

Multiple copies are known to still exist. In an email, Ivan Cornell confirmed he held onto a copy. Over Twitter DM, David Julyan also confirmed he owned a VHS copy of the short. Both refused to release it. Cambridge Film Festival may have a copy, but according to an email from the 1996 festival director, a search for the short was conducted a few years ago with no luck. UCL Film Society is confirmed to still possess a private copy in their archive. According to Jeremy Theobald, who lost his personal copy, Nolan still maintains tight control over the short film's rights.


Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Christopher Nolan has consistently described the short as "about a burglary."

In an exclusive interview within Christopher Nolan: A Critical Study of the Films, Jeremy Theobald states the following:

[This was] unlike all the other film society scripts at the time that I'd read, which were quite surreal ... slamming doors of train on Euston Station, when ::trains had doors that could slam. This was witty. It was funny, it was pithy, and it was dark. It had a great twist at the end. [I was offered the] lead part in ::that. And that became Larceny, the ten-minute short that we shot in one weekend in Chris' flat. A Saturday and a Sunday.

A quoted Empire magazine issue, in which it appears Jeremy Theobald is being interviewed, also supports this. The exact issue and full article have not yet been found, but is quoted by a user on Nolan Fans Forums:

A man breaks into a flat startling the occupant (me). They argue about the new girlfriend of the 'burglar', who's come

to get her stuff. Then a third man bursts out of the cupboard This lines up with how Larceny is described as being shot in Nolan's flat at the time by Theobald in a 2018 interview.[6]

According to the British Film Institute: "A man with a bag over his head is being beaten up by a gangster but pleads mistaken identity. It turns out that he is the room-mate of the man they're looking for, who is at that moment boarding a plane out of the country." Despite being an archive, this isn't a particularly reputable source given other small mistakes (including the runtime). Take this with a grain of salt.

IMDb lists the synopsis as "A man who likes to pick-pocket people, gets chased through the woods by the people he's trying to steal from." This is incorrect as the entire short was filmed in Nolan's flat. Furthermore, Jeremy Theobald was able to confirm its inaccuracy.

Film Credits[edit | edit source]

Starring: The Man - Jeremy Theobald, Toby - Mark Deighton, Wooly Hat - Dave Savva

Production Assistant: Emma Thomas

Sound: David Lloyd

Assistant Director: Nigel Karikari

Music: David Julyan

Assistant Camera: Ivan Cornell

Written, Directed, Shot and Edited: Christopher Nolan

Produced: Christopher Nolan, Ivan Cornell

Thanks: Mike Dunderdale, Steve Street, Bloomsbury TV, UCL Film Society

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]