Director Christopher Nolan Talks About ‘The Dark Knight’

Director Christopher Nolan Talks About 'The Dark Knight' 1Producer David Goyer said Batman Begins writer/director Christopher Nolan wasn’t willing to jump into a second Batman movie without first being convinced there was a compelling reason to a sequel. After tossing around ideas as to where the story would go, Goyer, Christopher Nolan and his screenwriting partner/brother Jonathan came up with the basic ideas of ground to cover in The Dark Knight. The second film introduces politician Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and one of the most recognizable villains in films and comics, The Joker (Heath Ledger), and takes the franchise down an even darker path than the one tread in Batman Begins.

“I think the big challenge really in doing a sequel is to build on what you’ve done in the first film, but not abandon the characters, the logic, the tone of the world that you created for the first film,” explained Nolan. “So there are elements the audience will expect you to bring back that you need to bring back. You also have to balance that with the need to see something new and to see something different, and that’s been the challenge through the whole of making the film.”

Tim Burton’s Batman Returns was typical of Burton’s quirky, dark style of filmmaking but with The Dark Knight Nolan outdoes Burton, taking the Batman franchise into even more disturbing territory. “You certainly can push it too far, but interestingly there are different ways to be disturbing,” offered Nolan. ” I mean, I don’t talk a lot about the previous films because I didn’t make them and they’re not mine to talk about, but certainly if you look at Batman Returns with Danny DeVito as The Penguin, eating the fish and everything, there are some extraordinarily disturbing images in that movie. But they’re coming at it from a surreal point of view.”

“I think the ways in which this film is disturbing are different. We try to ground it a little more in reality and so I suppose there’s a sense there that might get under your skin a little more, if it relates to the world that we live in. As I say though, there are different tones that can be taken with adapting this character to the movies. Indeed, in the comics, one of the things that Paul Levitz at DC Comics first talked about when I first came onboard for Batman Begins is that Batman is a character who traditionally is interpreted in very different ways by the different artists and writers who’ve worked on it over the years. So there’s a freedom, and an expectation even, that you will actually put something new into it, that it’ll be interpreted in some different way. I think of any of the superheroes Batman is the darkest. There is an expectation that you’re going to be dealing with more disturbing elements of the psyche. That’s the place that he comes from as a character, so it feels appropriate to this character.”

It’s impossible to discuss The Dark Knight without bringing up Heath Ledger. Ledger’s performance as The Joker is the first performance of 2008 to gather Oscar buzz. If in fact Ledger is honored by the Academy for his portrayal of the twisted character, then he would be the first actor to receive an Academy Award posthumously since Peter Finch won for Best Actor in 1976’s Network.

Nolan says Ledger talked to him throughout the process of getting into the character of The Joker. “Yeah, to a degree. When I was working on the script and he’d gone off to think about what he was going to do with the character, he would call me from time to time and talk about the things that he was working on. But the truth is that when you’re outside that process before you get to set it’s all a bit abstract. So he was talking to me about how he’d been studying the way that ventriloquist dummies talk and things like that. I’d be sitting on the other end of the phone going, ‘Well, that’s a bit peculiar.’ But what I’m really hearing is an actor really invested in trying to come up with something very unique,” explained Nolan. “Then when I saw it all come together, the conversations we’d had kind of made sense. I could see where he was coming from with that with the pitch of the voice.”

“He would talk about having it change pitch dramatically in very sudden ways and things like that. That helps the unpredictability of the character. When we were mixing the sound for the film, we let his voice – normally you’re sort of flattening out voices to make them clearer, evening out the volume at which they speak – but with The Joker we felt that you had to let it be a little bit out of control in the way that he performed it.”

Director Christopher Nolan Talks About 'The Dark Knight' 2

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