In a recent Podcast interview with Empire Online, The Dark Knight Trilogy director Christopher Nolan addresses many revealing things about what went into his trilogy.
*Mild Spoilers below. Only read if you have already seen The Dark Knight Rises. *
Nolan on the process of starting the franchise all the way back in 2003 and if he always knew where the franchise was going to go from the start.
I certainly wasn’t that forward thinking. I really, only dared think about what Batman Begins was going to be just because I’m a bit superstitious and I didn’t want to make any assumptions about what people would think of that film, whether people would want to see my take on the character on a longer term. So, with each of the three films, we really just tried to tell everything we had to say about that character in that film as if it was the one chance we had to deal with the characters.
Addressing how he now feels to be at the end of that journey which started back in 2003.
Certainly a little tired. I don’t know about relieved, I suppose you always feel relieved at different times of a big film, to be finished with a particular part of the process. But then you have the tension…..or the pressure of the next stage, in this case, we’re about to put the film out all over the world and see what the fans think. So it’s a mixture of a bit of relief, then more pressure, anxiety, then a bit more relief. Once the film has been out for a couple of months and people have really had the chance to tell me what it is, at that point, I’ll think its finished.
Talking about Christian Bale’s performance across the trilogy.
I think Christian, in his performance, is very consistent to maintaining the truth of what’s happened to [Bruce Wayne] and where that might lead him, what impulses that’s driven him towards. I think he’s never strayed far from those original ideas, those original concerns and I think it means that if people do take the time and the trouble to watch those three films together, they’ll see a pretty amazing achievement in the performance from Christian Bale.
Why Nolan decided to have a 8 year gap between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises?
It’s partly about a physical and emotional toll and it’s partly about being true to the end of [The Dark Knight]. What you have at the end of The Dark Knight is an ending that hangs very much on substantial sacrifice to achieve a certain end and for that to have meaning, it has to work in some sense, it has to have been successful. And I didn’t want to just abandon that and pick up a new story with a whole new set of ideas. So for me, that lead to the 8 year gap, it lead to the idea of Bruce Wayne, shut away in self-imposed exile because he’s hung up his cape and cowl. He’s living in a world, at least superficially, that doesn’t need Batman but he hasn’t moved on, he hasn’t moved on as Alfred points out, he hasn’t moved on emotionally or in a practical sense.
What Nolan finds most interesting about the character of Batman.
One of things I find the most interesting about Batman is that because he works on the wrong side of the law, because he’s a vigilante, you’re never really far of the issue of the means and ends. You’re never really far from the idea of what is acceptable in terms of fighting crime, in terms of trying to restore the world to some sense of good. And in the first film its very much about corruption about an environment so corrupt that Bruce Wayne couldn’t work inside the established structures of the law and he had to move outside it. And that was very important to being able to accept the idea of vigilantism. And I think where we get to, through the next two films, and I think what The Dark Knight Rises really picks up, is the idea of that concept. Working outside the law has become more and more acceptable to Commissioner Gordon. It’s become institutionalized in a sense with the lie about Harvey Dent and so the film really picks up with saying ‘if we did that in the real world, if that where an underlying lie which prosperity is based on, is that really going to work?’
On addressing the rumors of an initial 4-hr cut?
It’s not true at all. [On the internet] you read a lot of crazy things. I don’t think I would want to sit through a four hour version of this movie (laughs). As a writer/director, its pretty easy for me to be precise about the running time and length. I think with each film, I told the studio how long the film was going to be 2 years ahead of time and arrived on the money. Its because I can work things out on paper which is more efficient than shooting them and then editing them out. Which is why there’s no deleted scenes on the DVD’s of the film. With Lee Smith, who is a supremely talented editor who can compress and knows about storytelling in a precise space of time, aided considerably by Hans Zimmerand his score. What I’ve demanded of Hans over the years is for him to be able to bind together very disparate threads of narrative so that you can tell a crowded story, frankly, almost as a montage even though there’s narrative.
When asked about the surprising ending of The Dark Knight Rises which many consider leading into a new trilogy.
We shouldn’t talk about the end.
Nolan’s advice to whoever Warner Bros. hires to direct the continuation/sequel/reboot.
The only advice I would have is that…when I first met with Paul Levitz of DC Comics prior to Batman Begins, he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on reinterpretation and almost is strengthened by it. And I’m talking about over the years in the comic books but also in the movies. So when the time is right, whenever someone does whatever the next iteration of the character is, they simply need to be true to whatever it is they want to see, to what they believe in, not worry too much about what everyone else is telling them it should be.
While this is only a brief portion of the interview that Empire did with Chris Nolan, Nolan also goes on to address his comic inspiration ,touches on the work of Frank Miller with Batman: Year One, and the influence of Batman: The Long Halloween. The podcast also addressing the character of Catwoman and what his feelings about the character are and what he feels Anne Hathaway brought to the role. The interview with Nolan actually begins at the 37-minute mark, check out the whole podcast here.