Christopher Nolan Discusses Tone Of His Batman Trilogy & THE DARK KNIGHT RISES' Ending

Christopher Nolan Discusses Tone Of His Batman Trilogy & THE DARK KNIGHT RISES' Ending

Director Christopher Nolan's discusses his Batman trilogy in depth. At one point he refers to the tone of his films as being “relatable,” not to be confused with arbitrarily used, “realism.”

Director Christopher Nolan ("Inception") recently had in-depth conversation with Film Comment about his amazing Batman trilogy. For anyone that is a fan of Chris Nolan's work, this is a must read. For budding filmmakers this is also a must read as Nolan shares a lot of useful information on the technical aspects of creating a movie.

Below are a few aspects that I'd like to share from the interview. First deal with the issue of tone. Many fans debate about how "real" Nolan's Batman universe is, but is should that even be debated? In this interview Nolan explains his tone as “relatable” not being realistic, as many harp on.

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: 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.

Perhaps the most controversial part in Nolan's Batman trilogy is the very ending of The Dark Knight Rises. Which left many fans divided as it is eluded to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, John "Robin" Blake, is going to replace Bruce Wayne as Gotham's Batman.

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: For me, The Dark Knight Rises is specifically and definitely the end of the Batman story as I wanted to tell it, and the open-ended nature of the film is simply a very important thematic idea that we wanted to get into the movie, which is that Batman is a symbol. He can be anybody, and that was very important to us. Not every Batman fan will necessarily agree with that interpretation of the philosophy of the character, but for me it all comes back to the scene between Bruce Wayne and Alfred in the private jet in Batman Begins, where the only way that I could find to make a credible characterization of a guy transforming himself into Batman is if it was as a necessary symbol, and he saw himself as a catalyst for change and therefore it was a temporary process, maybe a five-year plan that would be enforced for symbolically encouraging the good of Gotham to take back their city. To me, for that mission to succeed, it has to end, so this is the ending for me, and as I say, the open-ended elements are all to do with the thematic idea that Batman was not important as a man, he’s more than that. He’s a symbol, and the symbol lives on.

The director talks about experimenting, taking risks with the pacing of the final hour of The Dark Knight Rises in order to achieve a tension that most film's have never approached.

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: We tried with all three films, but in the most extreme way with The Dark Knight Rises, what I call this sort of snowballing approach to action and events. We experimented with this in The Dark Knight, where the action is not based on clean and clear set pieces the way Batman Begins was, but we pushed it much further in this film. The scope and scale of the action is built from smaller pieces that snowball together so you’re cross-cutting, which I love doing, and trying to find a rhythm in conjunction with the music and the sound effects, so you’re building and building tension continuously over a long sustained part of the film, and not releasing that until the very last frame. It’s a risky strategy because you risk exhausting your audience, but to me it’s the most invigorating way of approaching the action film. It’s an approach I applied with Inception as well, to have parallel strands of tension rising and rising and then coming together. In The Dark Knight Rises, from the moment the music and sound drop and the little boy starts singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it’s kind of like the gloves are coming off. I’ve been amazed and delighted how people have accepted the extremity of where things go.


The Dark Knight Rises will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on December 4th. The film stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John "Robin" Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate/Talia al Ghul.

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Filed Under "Batman" 11/28/2012 Source: collider
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Jollem - 11/28/2012, 3:25 PM
good stuff. well said
FirstAvenger - 11/28/2012, 3:27 PM
Nolan the snowball approach doesn't fit a CBM, Inception was good enough.
marvel72 - 11/28/2012, 3:32 PM
i expected more from nolan,after the first two movies which are very good i was disappointed with the final part.

INSTANTJUSTICE - 11/28/2012, 3:59 PM

The problem with snowballs is they melt.
ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 11/28/2012, 3:59 PM
Good grief, the fact Nolan has to clarify what realism means in terms of film making shows how idiotic and moronic some comic fans have been.

Even twilight fans wouldn't bitch on realism in twilight movies. Smh.
GuardianAngel - 11/28/2012, 4:00 PM
Funsize - 11/28/2012, 4:00 PM
Really good movie
Azazel1 - 11/28/2012, 4:01 PM
Great film

Great director

Great trilogy
BANEofExistence - 11/28/2012, 4:02 PM
I feel the trilogy went from great to even better to best! Sorry guys, Just my opinion :P
Unas - 11/28/2012, 4:05 PM
I enjoyed the film very much.
marvel72 - 11/28/2012, 4:06 PM
@ TheYoungMan

for you it probably was but there is a lot things i didn't like about the movie.

-bane's look & voice

-anne hathaway as selina kyle

-batman's voice

-the flaws with the movie i.e police down in sewer,the ending,pit with a rope to escape,selina killing bane,talia death scene,batman been stabbed running around like nothing has happened,bruce gets back into a well guarded gotham without passport & money,batman still doing a fake voice when nearly the whole of the main cast know who he is,a very sick gordon being able to take out two healthy followers of bane & if bane wanted to destroy gotham so much why did he wait five months to do it,oh yeah i know so batman could heal.

-found it boring in places

don't get me wrong the avengers & the amazing spider-man had faults as well but this article is about the dark knight rises.
95 - 11/28/2012, 4:07 PM
Good read.
BlueDemon - 11/28/2012, 4:08 PM
Great Twology cause this movie sucked ass!!!!
95 - 11/28/2012, 4:08 PM
The Dark Knight Trilogy is one of the best thematic arcs in a film franchise.
fawfulmark2 - 11/28/2012, 4:11 PM
So he was trying to make him a symbol to be imortalized even through death, like Washington or Jesus or whatever.

I can dig it.
Jollem - 11/28/2012, 4:12 PM

pro346 - 11/28/2012, 4:14 PM
I like the fact he trays to use practical effects as much as possible.
Hellsboy - 11/28/2012, 4:14 PM
batman is my favorite hero in dc,and i agree with nolan the way he ended it most of the people on this site overreact when we talk about this movie but everyone has opinons
@halloweenJack dude we get it you hate it now grow up and move on
SageMode - 11/28/2012, 4:17 PM
Moving on to the reboot.............
RorMachine - 11/28/2012, 4:19 PM
Someone give TheYoungMan a prize.
StarkAnthony - 11/28/2012, 4:20 PM
@95 - I think one of the problems I had with Rises is that it messes up the thematic arc of the previous movies. Like a big part of that movie thematically was that lying to preserve Harvey's reputation was not a good thing to do but it was the right thing to do, but in TDKR they just throw that idea away and they were wrong. In previous movies, Batman wouldn't let anyone else be Batman, but now he says that was always the idea. I get that now he's choosing the person and giving them the gear, but he's still just a "hotheaded" (as we are told way too many times) cop. Why should he be Batman?
nowtheresaBATman - 11/28/2012, 4:20 PM
Awesome trilogy. I can't wait to watch TDKR again. Tom Hardy's voicework for Bane was the best part.

Suck it haters.
fceeviper - 11/28/2012, 4:21 PM
Thank you for this perfect trilogy, Nolan and Co.!
rockerdude22 - 11/28/2012, 4:24 PM
Interesting read from Mr. Nolan. Whether you agree with what he says is really up to you. No one is right or wrong here.
Brady1138 - 11/28/2012, 4:24 PM
Thank you Nolan! That was my interpretation of the ending and you confirmed it!
rockerdude22 - 11/28/2012, 4:25 PM
Personally, I thought TDKR was the weakest of the trilogy. Still a good movie, though. BB and TDK were better, however.
marvel72 - 11/28/2012, 4:27 PM
@ TheYoungMan

well they're a flaw to me if i think he could of done them better.
Tainted87 - 11/28/2012, 4:28 PM
This is confirmation.
He saw Bruce Wayne as a man who turned to Batman like a man buys an expensive car during his midlife crisis. A temporary way of dealing with things.

That's not Batman.
Jimdlux - 11/28/2012, 4:30 PM
Mechanical knee brace that makes foot strong enough to kick through stone, back surgery in a prison with a brick, world's greatest detective is so stupid that he doesn't realize someone stole his fingerprints to rob him and that the tunnel he was in was right underneath the R&D of Wayne Industries...yes I can easily relate to a looney tunes cartoon...
Spider-Fan - 11/28/2012, 4:32 PM
I like the idea of Batman being anybody but I want to believe in the sense that anybody can do good and do their part. Not that anybody can actually be Batman. Bruce Wayne is Batman. Inspiring people to do good and inspiring people to be Batman are two different things, they should have just had that philosophical aspect of it because I rolled my eyes when JGL found the batcave.
95 - 11/28/2012, 4:32 PM
@StarkAnthony I agree to certain degree. Bane wanted to shake up Gotham City. Bane causes destruction by undoing the "noble lie of The Dark Knight. Rises was the oppurtunity for the characters to confess to the truth.
webheaded - 11/28/2012, 4:35 PM
Best CBM trilogy ever. One of the best trilogies in all of film, period. Thank you Nolan!
95 - 11/28/2012, 4:37 PM
@TheYoungMan I still haven't seen all of the Following... feels a lot like Inception. I need the Blu-ray.
gillri - 11/28/2012, 4:38 PM
after a second viewing its my favourite in the Trilogy,

The Prestige is still my favourite nolan film though
Mego - 11/28/2012, 4:45 PM
@TheYoungMan Those were indeed flaws in the film-like it or not.
Even outlandish comedies such as 'Hangover' wouldn't have the mysterious come and go injuries or contradicting details in a film.
Nolan painted a realistic picture and then added details that did not fit into that picture.
The story needed more work. It needed more life and a bit of humor. Even the ultra realistic 'Saving Private Ryan' which dealt with some pretty dark issues and events managed to entertain. Even if TDKR did not have holes in the story it still lacked entertainment.
In theaters everywhere there were no reactions until Alfred saw Wayne.
No laughs, no applause, no excitement. That in itself was a flaw. And it was the films greatest flaw of all.
95 - 11/28/2012, 4:45 PM
@StarkAnthony And are you referring to the time Batman told the "copycats" to stop being like him? Batman didn't want his successor(s) to be gun-wielders. That's not what I meant when I said I wanted to inspire people". John Blake actively showed a disgust to shooting (ex. bullet ricochets and hits the construction worker).
MisterBabadook - 11/28/2012, 4:48 PM
I think the only problem is Nolan refuses to make a part 4 with Bruce realizing that NOT anyone can be Batman.

It takes discipline and training. Bruce Wayne was Batman the moment his parents died. He just didn't have the mask, but mentally he knew. Power corrupts and I think that's what the next should really be about. Bruce Wayne's story never ends. I forgot what it was, but I remember watching TDKR and seeing contradictions that could come to play in a 4th. I'll remember after this next Tuesday.

Stay tuned.
LegacyFilms - 11/28/2012, 4:50 PM
The film was great to me. There were some wtf parts, but what movie doesn't have flaws. And to people who say, Blake was called a hothead too many times, he was called a hothead twice, by the same guy who was clearly just a dick so gtfoh. Also, Batman didn't want untrained overweight gun-wielding idiots to try to be Batman
Sanderman - 11/28/2012, 4:51 PM
the more i watched TDKR the more i like it. The only two things i wished they would've changed was Bane and Talia's death
Tainted87 - 11/28/2012, 4:52 PM
Hahaha, Yossarin gave me a funny idea.

Joker comes out dressed up like Batman, taps a microphone, and asks: "will the real Batman please stand?"
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