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Q&A with 'The Dark Knight Rises' director Christopher Nolan (Part 1)

By InCinemas  /  15 Nov 2012 (Thursday)
Source: Warner Bros
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES arrives this holiday season onto Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on November 28 and DVD in December from Warner Home Video/Typhoon Creations. Before we get our hands on The Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray Discs and DVDs, let us take some time off to find out more from the man behind the Dark Knight Trilogy, director/producer/writer Christopher Nolan!

Due to the length of this Question and Answer (Q&A), we have split into 2 parts, also in memory of Batman's broken "bone". Enjoy and do share what we have at InCinemas with your friends too~

(Go to Part 2 of the Q&A with Christopher Nolan)

Q:  For Christopher Nolan, after The Dark Knight made such a big impact, when you and Jonathan Nolan came to writing The Dark Knight Rises, did you feel this tremendous weight on your shoulders to try to equal that film, let alone top it?
  • Christopher: Well, for me, I would say that most of that pressure that you get with a sequel — when you know you’re going to have to try and give the audience a reason to come back to Gotham City — you feel it at the very beginning when you just go into the story.  So, myself and Jonah and David Goyer, our other writing partner at the early stage, felt a lot of pressure, a lot of thoughts of, ‘Okay, why would we do this?  Do we have the story to tell?’

    Once we knew that we had a story that we really wanted to see, that we wanted to know what happened to Bruce Wayne next and where his story was going to go and how we were going to finish this story, then everything else started to fall into place.  I think you have to then forget that pressure and just get on and try and make the best film that you can.
Q: This film amplifies and resolves the main themes of the trilogy, one of which is myth-making and the discussion of the Batman Gotham needs. Chris, can you talk about making Batman relevant in the contemporary world? 

(Image - The Dark Knight Rises: Batman hunted and surrounded by cops)
  • Christopher: One of the things I’ve enjoyed about working with these characters is, as Christian says, they have the potential to be topical.  The reason for that is that they’re not real.  It’s not real life.  You’re dealing with a heightened reality.

    You’re not dealing with Chicago or New York.  You’re dealing with Gotham, and that gives you a very interesting world to be able to play with in a very heightened way, in a very operatic way.  These are larger-than-life characters, and I very much enjoyed tapping into the sort of operatic sensibility of that and really trying to push the audience and the audience’s emotions in extreme directions using the extremity of those characters.  And I think naturally from that, you’re aiming for a sort of mythic status.  As you point out in your question, really, there’s a nice correspondence between that impulse and why you want to make the film and why audiences hopefully want to enjoy the film.

    There’s a very important scene between Michael Caine’s character, Alfred, and Christian’s character in Batman Begins where they’re on a plane, before he’s come up with the idea of specifically the symbolism of the bat, but he talks about what he’s going to do.  And Alfred, as somebody who looks after him and cares for him, the only reason he goes along with it is that there’s a logic to it, and the logic which we found as we worked on the character was that it had to be about symbolism.

        (Image: Batman Begins: Alfred taking care of young Bruce after his parents died)

    It had to be about, as you said, myth-making and about offering Batman as a symbol of hope for people in a very corrupt society.  It’s looking for some kind of tipping point to come back to good.  So, that’s really always been the heart of Bruce Wayne’s story and why we gravitate towards this extremely symbolic character.
Q: Can you talk about creating multi-dimensional female characters in this film? All of the women seem to have layers and a backstory to them. 
  • Christopher: Well, certainly at the script stage, one of the products of doing a second sequel is that you’re going to have to expand your story in a lot of directions as you introduce characters, and there are some notable new female characters in this film.  You’re very aware that you don’t want to be diluting what the story is, and you want those characters to be real people. You want them to be people you’re going to care about, people you’re going to believe in.

    So, at script stage, Jonah and myself, we tried very hard not to draw new characters in a superficial way.  We really wanted them all to have some kind of inner life that you could invest in.  And, certainly, I know that Anne and myself, we’ve spent a lot of time talking and thinking about Selina’s backstory and where she would have really come from and who she really was.  And I know that Anne went into it with a very fully formed idea of the characterization.

    So, some of it comes from the script, but a lot of it really is in getting Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard.  Really, I lean on them and rely on them a lot to construct a very credible, psychological basis for the characters, just as I have with all of these guys.

(Image - The Dark Knight Rises: Left - Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; Right Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle)

Q: Can you talk about the themes of the story, particularly in light of the economic crisis and seeing the story in that context. Was that on your mind as you were crafting this story? 
  • Christopher: Well, to be perfectly honest, we really try to resist at script stage being drawn into specific themes, specific messages.  Really these films are about entertainment.  They are about story and character.  But what we do is try and be very sincere in the things that frighten us or motivate us or that we’re worried about.

    So, when you’re looking at it, okay, what’s the threat to the civilization that we take for granted? And how are we going to frighten ourselves essentially with a force of evil coming into a place?  We try to be very sincere about that, and I think resonances that people find or that happen to occur with what’s going on in the real world, to me, they come about really as a result of us just living in the same world that we all do and trying to construct scenarios that move us or terrify us, in the case of a villain like Bane and what he might do to the world.
Q: Chris, given the massive success of the second film and what looks to be a movie that could very well do the same, can you talk about the decision to keep this a trilogy and end it after this film, and how the studio reacted?
  • Christopher: Well, the point at which I was saying to the studio it would be a trilogy was the point I was telling them, ‘Yes, I will do a third one to follow up on The Dark Knight.’  So, they were thrilled.  Obviously, I’m sure they’d love us to keep doing this forever, but I think they completely understood that my attraction to coming back for a third time was in finishing our story so that we’ve told one big story with three major parts to it.  And that really is the reason we’re here and the reason we’ve done it.  It was kind of part and parcel of what we were doing.

(Go to Part 2 of the Q&A with Christopher Nolan)

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