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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