Here we are, five months after The Dark Knight Rises opened, and the film’s still sparking discussion and debate among fans and critics alike. Most movies are all but forgotten after a few weeks, but the non-stop interest in TDKR is testament to what a landmark movie it is. Case in point, on November 28, 2012, the director of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Christopher Nolan, was a guest of the prestigious Film Society of Lincoln Center. In conjunction with his appearance in New York, Nolan also gave an in-depth interview with Film Comment about the making of the trilogy and his feelings about how the story ended. It’s a lengthy interview, and some of it goes into highly technical aspects of filmmaking, so I’m just highlighting a couple of my favorite quotes.
I’ve always wanted to know why Nolan was interested in the character of Batman, since he’s often said in interviews that he wasn’t an avid comic book fan. This interview gives some insight into that topic. He explains why he wanted to take on the character, and he also tells which earlier superhero movie was his inspiration for Batman Begins. I also thought it was worth noting that Nolan didn’t consider Batman Begins to be a reboot of the Batman franchise. Instead, he considered it a chance to tell a part of the Batman story that no one had ever told on screen – The Dark Knight’s origin.
“It’s a sign of how quickly things change in the movie business, but there was no such thing conceptually as a “reboot.” That idea didn’t exist when I came to look at Batman. That’s new terminology. Warner Bros. owned this wonderful character, and didn’t know what to do with it. It had sort of reached a dead end with its previous iteration. I got excited about the idea of filling in this interesting gap—no one had ever told the origin story of Batman. And so even though Tim Burton’s film had done a definitive version of the character, it was a very idiosyncratic Tim Burton vision.” – Christopher Nolan via Film CommentFor many people (including me) the overall “look” of the Dark Knight Trilogy was one of the best things about it. I appreciated that Nolan didn’t present Gotham City in a highly stylized way, a la Tim Burton. Don't get me wrong, I think Burton's two Batman movies are classics, but I prefer Nolan’s interpretation. Nolan presented a Gotham that looked very much like a modern American urban landscape, and that gave it a real-world feel that I loved. Nolan, however, emphasized in the interview that he wasn’t going for “realism” – he preferred the term “relatable”. I’m not sure I get what he’s driving at, but his explanation is still interesting.
“The term “realism” is often confusing and used sort of arbitrarily. I suppose “relatable” is the word I would use. I wanted a world that was realistically portrayed, in that even though outlandish events may be taking place, and this extraordinary figure may be walking around these streets, the streets would have the same weight and validity of the streets in any other action movie. So they’d be relatable in that way. And so the more texturing and layering that we could get into this film, the more tactile it was, the more you would feel and be excited by the action.” - Christopher Nolan via Film CommentNolan also discusses why he chose to give The Dark Knight Rises an open-ended conclusion. I must admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the way the film ended, but after reading Nolan’s comments I understand why he went that route. What did you think of the ending of TDKR? Did it seem like a weak conclusion to an otherwise brilliant trilogy?
Finally, Nolan explains how a single scene in Batman Begins is the key to the trilogy’s entire theme of “Batman is a symbol.” Want to know which scene Nolan is referring to? Check out the article at Film Comment, and do let me know if something in the interview struck you as particularly interesting.