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Christopher Nolan Talks The Politics & Influences Of 'The Dark Knight Rises' & More From the Film's Press Tour

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 24, 2012 10:00 AM
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Dark Knight Rises Batman Bale Fight
Batman uses a different fighting style in this film to take down Bane.
The realistic fight style of Batman in the two films to date has been derived from a form of self-defence called the Keysei Fighting Method. But this time, with his most intimidating physical opponent so far, he had to change things up, according to Buster Reeves, who was fight co-ordinator on the movie, as well as doubling for Tom Hardy (having been Bale's stunt double in the first two films). "This time they wanted me purely as an outside eye to make sure the fights were exactly as Chris Nolan wanted them to look," Reeves told The Guardian. "It's not the same fighting style as the last two, he wanted to go in a whole different direction. Because Bane's his biggest adversary yet, Chris wanted Batman to evolve his fighting style. We've added a bit of Jeet Kun Do, some Silat [an Indonesian martial art], a bit of Thai boxing. Bane's a big brute, and it takes about 15 shots to deliver what he can do in one blow, so Batman had to be less aggressive, more clever. I had to think about how he could be a bit like Muhammad Ali, hit and not get hit. Mike Tyson versus Floyd Mayweather was what I had in mind."

Surprisingly, Nolan has never done a reshoot on one of his films.
Recently, films like "World War Z" have made headlines for extensive reshoots, and almost every movie over a certain budget will schedule some time for pick-ups or reshoots in case something needs fixing. But not Christopher Nolan, who says he writes deliberately so he won't need to. "I’ve never done a re-shoot, knock on wood," he told the DGA earlier in the year. "It all comes down to editing, just craft, just hammering it with my editor every day, trying radical cuts, pulling things out, abandoning bits of exposition, saying, ‘OK, does the audience really need to understand this? What if they don’t?’ I always overwrite the exposition in my scripts so that I’ve got multiple ways to get a point across. If you tell the audience something three times they won’t understand it, but if you tell them only once, they will. It’s an odd thing. So a lot of cutting for time is, for me, cutting for clarity. It’s finding where you can just pull dialogue out that you have overwritten, so you can find that one simple way an audience can get the right point."

Christopher Nolan
The director doesn't believe he's making a particular political message with the film.
After the examination of privacy and its links to George W. Bush's war on terror in "The Dark Knight," the new film sees Batman dip his toe into political waters again, already receiving attacks from both sides of the aisle. Nolan likes that it inspires debate, but claims the film itself has no particular viewpoint, telling Rolling Stone

"I've had as many conversations with people who have seen the film the other way round. We throw a lot of things against the wall to see if it sticks. We put a lot of interesting questions in the air, but that's simply a backdrop for the story. What we're really trying to do is show the cracks of society, show the conflicts that somebody would try to wedge open. We're going to get wildly different interpretations of what the film is supporting and not supporting, but it's not doing any of those things. It's just telling a story. If you're saying, 'Have you made a film that's supposed to be criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement?' – well, obviously, that's not true... If the populist movement is manipulated by somebody who is evil, that surely is a criticism of the evil person. You could also say the conditions the evil person is exploiting are problematic and should be addressed... I've got all sorts of opinions, but this isn't what we're doing here," he explained. "I love when people get interested in the politics of it, when they see something in it that moves them in some way. But I'm not being disingenuous when I say that we write from a place of 'What's the worst thing our villain Bane can do? What are we most afraid of?' He's going to come in and turn our world upside down. That has happened to other societies throughout history, many times, so why not here? Why not Gotham? We want something that moves people and gets under the skin."

Nolan doesn't have a cellphone, or use email, because he likes talking in person.
The director famously admitted a few years back that he's never owned a cellphone, and he says that he finds he's never really needed them. "It's not that I'm a Luddite and don't like technology," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I've just never been interested. When I moved to L.A. in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path. And I'm in a slightly unique position because when I'm working -- and I've been working pretty much continuously for the last 10 years -- I'm never more than five feet from somebody who has a phone... A lot of the things people amuse themselves with really are just toys for grown-ups, and it eats your time and pulls your concentration." He did have an email address set up for him by Warner Bros at one stage, but by the time he checked it, he says, "There were thousands of emails in this account -- some from quite important people, actually. I had them take it down, so people didn't think they were getting in touch with me." So, if you've been waiting for a reply from Nolan for the last decade or so, don't take it personally...

There is a map that gives you the exact geography of Gotham City.
Gotham City's been as much a character across the trilogy as Batman, but the geography's sometimes been a bit unclear, in part because of the sheer number of cities it was filmed in across the three films -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, even London. Fortunately, "The Dark Knight Manual," a tie-in book, has printed an exact map of the city, which you can see over at EW. You know, for the next time you're planning a trip.

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  • tristan eldritch | July 24, 2012 2:13 PMReply

    "Have you made a film that's supposed to be criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement?' – well, obviously, that's not true... If the populist movement is manipulated by somebody who is evil, that surely is a criticism of the evil person."

    This is disingenuous. Bane blows up a football stadium, and shots a scientist before their eyes, and yet the people of Gotham still happily follow him. They are shown to be a stupid and destructive mob, who rush to loot and terrorize the rich, and cheer on a sadistic kangaroo court. The people of Gotham are never shown to oppose the obviously psychopathic Bane - only the traditional authoritarian forces, Batman and the police, do this. At the very least, this suggests an extremely negative vision of the people, and of the potential consequences of public unrest and revolutionary spirit. In The Dark Knight, Batman used invasive surveillance technology to save Gotham from the menace of the Joker - and his heroism in this regard is eventually recognized and celebrated in DKR - this would seem less like examining the issue of privacy, and more like simplified cheer-leading for the efficacy of police-state surveillance.

  • Fanboys make me sad | July 28, 2012 2:08 PM

    @Buntu: "anti-Nolan brigade" - seriously? You fanboys are pathetic. There are plenty of critics, commenters etc. (myself included) who like the movies but can see that there is a blatant right-wing bent running through them. The trilogy is undeniably right wing. When Nolan says that wasn't his intention he's either lying or he's an idiot. A great film-maker maybe, but an in terms of politics and semiotics, an idiot.

    As a fanboy I'd expect you to at least realize how often the inherent right-wing themes of the batman concept cropped up, and were explored in depth, in the comics. See for example everything featuring Anarky. Nolan's films don't contain any critical examination of the muddle of aristocratic and right-wing ideology that informs the main character's actions.

    When you point to the fact that Gothamites are hiding as evidence that this isn't right-wing propaganda, you miss the point completely. Portraying the "good" Gothamites as cowering sheeple, devoid of agency, waiting for a strong leader to come and lead the forces of authority (cops) to save them, is as right-wing as you can get.

    What's idiotic about the reaction to this film is everything written and uttered by pathetic fanboys who feel they have to defend a director backed by a massive studio with a marketing machine in its corner.

  • Zack | July 25, 2012 9:58 AM

    I'm kind of with Buntu. The only real hint of mass civilian collusion with Bane that we see is that one shot of a mob during Bane's speech, and they're just walking down the street looking disgruntled. They clearly didn't all join his army, or it wouldn't be noticeably smaller than the police force.

  • buntu | July 25, 2012 9:31 AM

    Bullshit. There's the suggestion that the underclasses and criminals rally behind Bane, but the ordinary Gotham citizens are too afraid to stand up to him. Empty streets, the comment that Gordon made about Modine sending his wife to open the door, etc. It's made clear most Gothamites are hiding. This anti-Nolan brigade are really tying themselves in knots trying to smear him as some sort of Rush Limbaugh-esque right-wing loon. It's idiotic.

  • James | July 24, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    I love this! Thanks for putting it together.

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