NY Time's Excellent Feature on The Dark Knight and Christopher Nolan
At ShoWest in a few days I will have the amazing honor of meeting Christopher Nolan in person. I'm excited beyond the fact that The Dark Knight is one of my most anticipated summer movies, but also because Nolan is one of today's most profound directors. Before I get there, however, I must point out that the New York Times has published a very impressive preview piece looking at the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins and featuring a number of new photos (one seen above of Nolan) as well as great quotes from cast and crew. If you want to get a true understanding of how this new version of the Batman franchise came about and hear some of the most passionate and incredible statements surrounding Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, then read on!
The article kicks off with an absolutely wonderful and vivid recollection of Nolan's operations on set, right down to the details and how he works. They explain that despite this film has a menacing $180 million budget, Nolan still directs like he's shooting a $5 million indie (like his previous film Memento). "So he's still scribbling new dialogue on the set, improvising camera moves as he goes, letting his actors decide when it's time to move on and otherwise racing through each day as if his money might run out." Not only is it inspiring and refreshing to hear a big budget actor working like this, but it instill even more confidence in him when it comes to the sequel this July.
In so many ways this isn't what you'd expect of a $180 million Hollywood comic-book movie sequel with a zillion moving parts, a cast of thousands and sets from here to Hong Kong. Anyone else would shoot indoors, use digital effects or wait for clear skies; Mr. Nolan rolls with the weather's punches, believing that the messiness of reality can't be faked. Another filmmaker would leave a shot like this in the hands of a second-unit director, but Mr. Nolan doesn't use one; if it's on the screen, he directed it, and his longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, worked the camera.
Even the franchise's star Christian Bale chimes in on the experience, saying, "I believe that even the most popcorn-like movie can be done incredibly well, and can have something that you really have to work at. That was what attracted me to doing it the first time, because I felt I'd never seen that done, and I didn't understand why." He goes on to briefly explain Batman's role in the upcoming film, one that stretches far above and beyond the typical comic book movie story. "And now you have not just a young man in pain attempting to find some kind of an answer, you have somebody who actually has power, who is burdened by that power, and is having to recognize the difference between attaining that power and holding on to it."
As for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in the film? Warner Brothers (and Nolan) don't seem too concerned with his untimely and tragic death in January, primarily because he gave such a "terrifying [and] amazing" performance that will without a doubt be remembered forever. Nolan seems mesmerized by what he provided, saying, "it's stunning, it's iconic" and "it's going to just blow people away." And of course, not a single detail about the plot or what will happen to him or Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) will be revealed before the film's theatrical debut in mid-July.
Unfortunately we still have a solid four months to go until TDK (for short) arrives in theaters. As much as I love Jon Favreau and the trailers for the upcoming Iron Man, its articles like these and stories about Christopher Nolan that make me realize that The Dark Knight may truly be the movie-to-see this summer. What Nolan brings to a movie surpasses almost anything that every other flick out there might already have, including (but not limited to) a true grit, stark realism, and attention to every last detail, from the story and script to the cinematography and actors.
If you're a fan in the slightest, I strongly encourage you to go read the entire article over at the New York Times. Similar to the same passionate on-set tribute to Heath Ledger that Nolan wrote back in January, this article is as entertaining to read and still filled with as much appreciation for the finer details of the filmmaking process. While we wait patiently as the days pass by until July, I'll leave you with NY Times author David Halbfinger's final poignant question regarding the movie.
"Now the question is whether Mr. Nolan's vision of Batman can not only maintain its hold on the imaginations of comic fans and critics, but expand its reach to a wider summer moviegoing audience, even as the death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker in 'The Dark Knight,' has added unanticipated morbidity to the film's deliberate darkness."
The Dark Knight is again directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige) and co-written by Nolan, his brother Jonathan Nolan (The Prestige), and David S. Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins). The movie will hit theaters worldwide on July 18th this summer.