It seems that a day doesn't go by without some new behind-the-scenes nugget slipping from the set of Christopher Nolan's trilogy-capping Bat-flick. Which seems weird to us, given the fact that Nolan is a historically secretive filmmaker. Is something else going on here?
Try and think back, if you can, to the ramp-up for Batman Begins. How much had we seen before the first trailer for that one? Virtually nothing. Precious little seeped out before The Dark Knight as well. Basically, Nolan and J.J. Abrams could be contestants on a Who's More Secretive? talk show, and the odds on who'd win would be even.
So, then, what's to account for the overflowing deluge of stuff we're seeing for The Dark Knight Rises? Anne Hathaway crashing a Batpod, Tom Hardy strutting his stuff, Joseph Gordon-Levitt being all Gordon-Levitty, and now this spoilery footage from Total Film of what looks like a Bat-thing blowing up some non-Bat-thing on an L.A. street:
There was a movie that Nolan directed back in 2006, between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, called The Prestige, and, in it, Michael Caine explains the structure of a grand illusion as such:
"Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called The Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course ... it probably isn't. The second act is called The Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret ... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige."
I think Nolan is staging an elaborate, expensive, unprecedented con. Explosions on the streets, Hathaway in a slinky catsuit—all shiny baubles to distract us from the real movie he's making somewhere else. If you feed the vultures what they want, then they won't look for anything else. It's costly, to be sure, to stage a whole other production—but when you're dealing with a $300 million production, it'd be kind of easy to carve out $20 million (the entire budget of some sharp low-budget thrillers) to mount a grand diversion.
And so, a year from now, we'll all go to the movies expecting one thing and be lucky to get something totally different. That's a feat worthy of being called the Prestige.