Batman Begins turned ten this year, and whether you believe Christopher Nolan is a cinematic saint or a heavy-handed overachiever, you can't deny the filmmaker's earnest dedication to his craft. In an exclusive new interview with Forbes, Nolan discusses his creative process with David Goyer writing the screenplay for Batman Begins, emulating the production design and neo-noir style of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and Batman becoming a transcending symbol and catalyst for change for the good people of Gotham.
Swoop on in and tell us if your opinion of Nolan has been confirmed or crushed.
On creating a real-world psychological arena for Bruce Wayne:
I think the idea that Bruce Wayne perceived of Batman as a symbol that could rally the good people of Gotham was something that very much came to David Goyer and myself as we explored the logic behind his actions. We were setting out to try and tell a more realistic version of the story, and of the origin story, than had been done. The origin story had never been addressed in films. What Tim Burton had done very brilliantly with his very Gothic, very idiosyncratic version of Batman, didn’t necessarily address the idea of a more real world and coming up with more real world explanations for what Batman is.
As we started analyzing that and really thinking about the logic of it, and what that would be in the real world, we came to the realization that for us, for our interpretation of Bruce Wayne and Batman in the real world, it should be a symbol. It should be something he sees as a catalyst for change. And we always presented it, and were consistent with it in the three films of mine, as a finite mission in his mind. Which I know is a controversial aspect of the character, but it made the most sense to us to say he sees it as a lever for improving things in Gotham, for getting the good to take back their city from evil, and that at a point that mission will be finished.
On Batman Begins as a Blade Runner homage:
It’s hard to say what was conscious homage, and what was my analysis of why Blade Runner was so convincing in its production design and in the way it uses its sets. From a pragmatic point of view, Blade Runner is actually one of the most successful films of all time in terms of constructing that reality using sets. On Batman Begins, unlike The Dark Knight, we found ourselves having to build the streets of Gotham in large part. So I immediately gravitated toward the visual treatment that Ridley Scott had come up with, in terms of how you shoot these massive sets to make them feel real and not like impressive sets. And immediately we started looking at the rain, the handheld cameras, the longer lenses…
So myself, my designer Nathan Crowley, and my cinematographer Wally Pfister, we started to throw all of that into the mix of how you can help the look of something, how you can create texture, as Ridley Scott has always been the absolute master of. Creating a texture to a shooting style that maximizes the impact of the set, and minimizes the artifice — the feeling that this world has edges to it that you would see at the edge of the frame. Blade Runner is one of the examples of how you can take a camera and get down and dirty… and really envelop your audience in the atmosphere of the world you’re trying to create. We definitely tried to emulate that style, and I think in doing so we actually created homage, particularly where we used the rain very much.
On the ultimate legacy of Batman Begins:
When we first came to the film and as we started to make it, it was very clear to us that we had found a gap in pop culture, that this great iconic figure — Batman — had been treated incredibly successfully in the past in film, particular the Tim Burton 1989 film which was a phenomenon. But he had never been given the origin story, it had never been told. The idea of building a hyper-real character in a real world, and sharing patiently how the character joined that world, seeing where the Batmobile comes from and the Batcave — it had never been done. We felt a great sense of opportunity. We also felt a great sense of responsibility, because if you find a gap like that in pop culture, you know you have to do right by it.
As soon as we started showing people the film, it became clear we had something that seemed to exceed people’s expectations in the right way, and defied expectations in certain ways… By the end of the film, they seemed to really appreciated why we told the story the way we had. So we were very, very happy with it, and with the response to the film.
For the entire Forbes' interview with Christopher Nolan and his creative intentions for Batman Begins, head on over to their official site here.