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'The Dark Knight Rises' Won't Reference The Joker At All, Plus More Revelations From Empire's Extensive Feature

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
June 5, 2012 11:25 AM
22 Comments
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We're now getting into the final stretch before "The Dark Knight Rises," probably the most anticipated film of a year that's had plenty of hotly anticipated pictures. After a main trailer a month or so back, we got another sneak peek of footage at Sunday's MTV Movie Awards, as well as a steady drip of posters and images that have managed to tease without giving away the whole shop.

One of the most revelatory glimpses has come from the outstanding latest issue of Empire Magazine, which carries an epic look at the making of all three of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, including interviews with most of the key personnel involved, including the director, his co-writer and brother Jonathan Nolan, stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and more. Below, you'll find some of the key highlights of the piece, but there's much more available from the magazine itself, which is on newsstands or on the iPad now.

Christopher Nolan hand delivered the script for "Batman Begins" to Michael Caine, and waited for him to read it.
Nolan has maintained a reputation for secrecy over his last few films, with remarkably few accurate leaks coming out of his production company Syncopy. And there's a reason for that: the director keeps his script on a tight, tight leash. So much so that being an acting legend with a 50-year career doesn't mean you get sent the goods. Michael Caine relates that the first time he met Nolan was when he got a knock on his door, and found the director (whose work Caine was a fan of) on his doorstep. Nolan handed him a script, and said he'd wait for the actor to read it. As Caine then relates. "He sat and had a cup of tea with my missus whilst I went to my office for about half an hour and read it. I was expecting a 'Memento'/'Insomnia'-type thriller. And I got 'Batman Begins.' Which completely took me by surprise. I thought that this was a big risk by Warner Bros. Giving this massive, expensive movie to a guy that directed two very small-budget thrillers. But I needn't have worried." Indeed.

Nolan says this is the biggest film since the silent era.
If you've ever read or seen an interview with Christopher Nolan, you know he's not a man given to boastful remarks. Quite the opposite, in fact. But it sounds like even he is a little impressed by what he's achieved with the new film. Nolan is, as ever, keen to do as much of the film practically, without CGI, and believes he's doing something on a scale that hasn't been seen since Al Jolson started crooning to movie audiences. "I think this is the biggest one I've done," he tells Empire, "The biggest one anyone's done since the silent era, in technical terms. Shooting on IMAX, you wanna justify that we've put our resources more into what we were shooting on the day than computer graphics. It's not what you're used to seeing. I don't know when someone last did a film with 11,000 extras in a real environment. It is an escalation. You want things to be justifiably bigger and more extreme than what you've done in the last film. As long as the story supports that."

Nolan's influences on the film include "A Tale of Two Cities" and Fritz Lang.
The first film was an adventure movie, in many ways, and the second was a crime picture. According to Nolan, the third is a true epic, with some pretty sweeping influences. "It's all about historical epics in conception. It's a war film. It's a revolutionary epic. It's looking back to the grand-scale epics of the past, really, and for me that goes as far back as silent films. I've been watching a lot of silent films with my kids on Blu-Ray. We've shot over a third of the movie on the IMAX format, and that naturally puts you more in the mode of staging very large events for the camera. It's my attempt to get as close to making a Fritz Lang film as I could. It's also more in the mould of 'Doctor Zhivago,' or 'A Tale Of Two Cities,' which is a historical epic with all kinds of great storytelling taking place during the French Revolution. There's an attempt to visualise certain things in this film on this large scale that are troubling and genuinely to the idea of an American city. Or, to put it another way: revolutions and the destabilising of society have happened everywhere in the world, so why not here?"

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22 Comments

  • Christopherr Nolann | July 13, 2012 7:11 AMReply

    I think you just need to calm down. I couldn't even be bothered reading the rhubarb you wrote. He's just excited about his film. Everyone who creates something that they feel very proud of will almost always speak so fondly and highly of it. Just shut up, mate.

  • Adam | July 23, 2012 3:37 PM

    "Just shut up, mate."

    That's a pathetic excuse for intelligent debate; it shows you are emotionally underdeveloped.

  • Adam | June 7, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    Why report Nolan's attempt to elevate himself to the level of Lang without comment? We are comparing Nolan, a director of comic book films, to Lang, a serious artist interested in illuminating the problems of society. One thing stands out: Lang's art was informed by his experience with the contradictions of Weimer Germany and the rising power of fascism. The original name of his truly epic police procedural, M, was Murderers Among Us, but the Nazis forced him to change it because of the thinly veiled critique of fascism. Where, in all of Nolan's work, do we see a coming to terms with the pressing issues of his day?

  • Gabe | June 16, 2012 7:49 AM

    Adam=Fag

  • Adam | June 7, 2012 3:09 PM

    I'd also like to add that when a critic like the one above takes the comparison with Lang at face value he or she greatly depreciates the bravery and vision of the latter's work. It is slanderous, reductive, and sadly, points to a growing trend hell bent on supplanting yesterday's film heroes with today's milquetoast.

    There is no d0ubt that Nolan and Co. are technical masters, but where do they stand on the issues of today? What does their "art" really amount to? Some may say art doesn't have to answer, or at least grapple with, contemporary problems. But then it's just an escape, one after another, without end.

    For sure, there are conflicts, problems, issues in his movies. But they are all infinitesimal in comparison to the forces driving social inequality. At best, the conflicts in his movies are the product of an imagination chasing its own tail, not artistic representations of real world problems which are destroying people's lives, right now, all over the world.

    Nolan's films are not important; they are mindless, overlong chunks of entertainment that extract us from our shared history, not only by ignoring how we got here but by supplanting today's problems with arbitrary ones. This approach, taken by virtually all of today's successful filmmakers, sucks all importance out of the art form thereby suspending us in a kind of cognitive formaldehyde and destroying any hope of progress toward a more equitable society.

    If we got one Nolan for every 100 Langs I'd hardly be as indignant, but the opposite is true, so I am.

    I apologize for what may amount to an incredibly disjointed argument, yet no one is discussing these issues in the film arts. We may disagree, but let's dig deeper and ask more of ourselves in our appraisal of popular art and entertainment.

  • alex | June 6, 2012 8:59 AMReply

    this, would be the movie event of the century

  • Milan | June 5, 2012 11:06 PMReply

    It would be interesting if it emulated the end of 'A Tale of Two Cities' in some capacity.

  • cirkusfolk | June 5, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    I love that Nolan himself is calling the film "an epic" an making some pretty bold statements regarding its scope. Like you mentioned, he's usually not one to toot his own horn despite having very good reason to do so considering his previous films. He never called The Dark Knight or Inception epic even though they were. By him saying this is his biggest picture yet gives me so much hope for the film. Although, I do recall an article after The Dark Knight came out that had him saying he couldn't possibly make a bigger film than it. He said a balloon can only be blown up so much and eventually the air has to come back out. This led me to believe he planned for the third batman to be smaller film but apparently he changed his mind. Again, a lot of filmmakers say pretty big things about the movies they jut made and are promoting, but I honestly think Nolan doesn't have to sell his movie and is just being genuine. Like when he said he believes they truly made te best conclusion they possibly could at the MTV awards. Can't wait!

  • ska-triumph | June 5, 2012 2:27 PMReply

    Because of this, I may actually buy an EMPIRE issue for once. Also wondering when will I get Zimmer & Co's soundtrack/score release by this very site...?

  • Colon | June 5, 2012 2:26 PMReply

    Biggest thing since silent cinema? Mhm. Quite a statement. Maybe film history is his weak spot?

    wor

  • Adam | June 7, 2012 12:11 PM

    @Razgul

    Aren't you being sycophantic? Colon is rightly scrutinizing a ridiculously broad and general statement. Also, he says it just weeks before the release, making it seem like a cynical PR attempt to generate controversy? Does Nolan really believe what he says? I think not.

  • razgul | June 5, 2012 3:50 PM

    He doesn't have a weak spot. And it's definitely not film history.

  • MatchesMalone | June 5, 2012 1:09 PMReply

    I guess this could be taken as confirmation that Bruce Wayne will NOT be dying in this film:
    "So if Chris came to me with a script and said, 'You know what? There is another story,' then I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work.'"

  • Yod | June 5, 2012 11:46 PM

    Either that or Bale's fooled some dumb people.

  • Addison | June 5, 2012 3:28 PM

    Hahaa so true, though i personally never bought into the various rumors people put out. Its christopher nolan, you think he is doing something with his movies and is the complete opposie & then some....

  • Chip | June 5, 2012 12:48 PMReply

    "Al Jonson"? Jeez.

  • rodie | June 5, 2012 12:47 PMReply

    I love that Nolan wants these films to stand on their own! I love that each one features a different look to Gotham and very different inspirations in terms of aesthetics and story.

    That said, Batman Begins ends with a big reference to the Joker that was not technically necessary to the story of Begins, but is a great scene that adds to so much to the movie and points to the theme of escalation.

    Also, The Dark Knight did include several subtle references to R'as and the events of Batman Begins:

    1. Bruce quotes R'as to Alfred: "Criminals aren't complicated," or something to that effect...
    2. Alfred mentions Wayne Manor needing to be rebuilt, which recalls R'as burning it down.
    3. There is a new Wayne Tower, which recalls the train crashing into the old one and R'as' death.
    4. And of course, Dr. Crane's appearance and arrest.

  • Chris138 | June 5, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    In all fairness, The Dark Knight didn't mention Ra's al Ghul at all in The Dark Knight and nobody seemed to be bothered by that. The only connection that movie had to the first one was the Scarecrow's brief cameo in the beginning. Nolan seems to want these movies to work as stand alone features and have Bruce Wayne try and move on with each story, so it makes sense that he wouldn't be addressing the Joker here.

  • Chris138 | June 5, 2012 12:31 PM

    God, I wasn't looking at what I was writing there. Definitely meant to say: The Dark Knight didn't mention Ra's al Ghul at all and nobody seemed to be bothered by that.

  • rodie | June 5, 2012 12:15 PMReply

    Look, I'm all for being reverent to Heath, and I'm not some Joker fanboy who is devastated that the Joker won't be seen or talked about in TDKR, but I really don't like Nolan's logic and reasoning behind outright not considering a reference or some form of appearance by the Joker in this film. It seems so un-Nolan-like. Of course its tragic on a personal level, but a storyteller of his order needs to be able to detach the actor from the character and at least creatively consider how a Joker reference or appearance in TDKR could have benefited the story he's trying to tell. Not even exploring that avenue (even if it leads to the same conclusion) is a mistake.

  • Kiriakos | June 7, 2012 1:29 AM

    I agree with RODIE-it is illogical not to at least reference the Joker in TDKR. The Joker was a very significant character in Nolan's story(he killed Wayne's childhood friend, convinced Harvey Dent to accept chaos and creating Two-Face, killed a bunch of people, and put a knife to Gotham's neck). Ledger gave us an amazing performance(one that Hardy or Hathaway could only dream of), so to not even acknowledge the Joker is really a failure on Nolan's part. It is very sad that we lost Heath Ledger, but you can't erase a key figure in a story without providing an explanation. Eight years wouldn't erase the memory of a psychotic, criminal clown blowing up a hospital in my mind if I lived in Gotham during Joker's reign of terror. I mean, really. Gordon got a job promotion because he helped catch the Joker(who escaped soon after, but anyway, lol), so Nolan-what are you thinking? It's not feasible to forget the one man who destroyed Batman's image.

  • ska-triumph | June 5, 2012 2:30 PM

    Being that the time between TDK and TDKR is around 8 years (a generation in city-movie life), it's feasible. Bane isn't about plain old anarchy; Batman is persona non grata/still on the lam.

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