The Dark Knight Rises, Joker

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.

Catwoman, Dark Knight Rises
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?"