Saturday, October 22, 2005

Interview w/ Christopher Nolan

Box Office Mojo has a really good interview with Christopher Nolan, the director of Batman Begins, Insomnia, and Memento. This is an extremely thorough interview. A few things really stood out:
BOM: Is it too long at two hours and 17 minutes? Nolan: It's 2:20. 2:17 has been printed, but 2:20 is accurate. Three years ago, I went to the studio, and I told them roughly what the film was going to be, and I told them it would be two hours and 20 minutes long. The reason is that to me the epic scope of the story we were aiming for, combined with the fact that, in dealing with the origins of the story, you have to spend a lot of time before you even get to Batman. And you want a number of action scenes—you basically want a two-hour blockbuster movie plus an extra movement to the piece at the end with credits—which comes out at two hours and 20 minutes as opposed to two hours and five minutes. We had to start at the very beginning of the story, treating [Bruce Wayne] as a child—and spend time doing that, not just a montage, but really embrace the story—you need that extra room. When you look at the highest grossing movies, they're really long films, whether it's Titanic or The Sound of Music or Gone with the Wind. I always want a film I work on to be as short as it possibly can, and it took a while because there's a lot of story here to cram in. There aren't any deleted scenes on the DVD, because we never removed story; we just compressed it. So it's a furiously paced film, and we're very fortunate that musicians helped us achieve a unity with the right tempo.
Again, Mr. Nolan I applaud as I did in my review sticking to the 2:20 running time. Here is another Q & A that gives me a lot of hope for the sequel, which I underhyped a bit in my review:
Nolan: ...Yet the immediate response to Batman's standing up for what's good is a proportional escalation of evil, and that's not philosophical—it's not that it will always be that way—it's about how bad things have to get before things become good. Batman is positive, but I believe that, in the first couple of years, he's going to find an increasingly negative response from society, because the truth is that, when you have a powerful, negative city like Gotham, it didn't become corrupt by accident, and those entrenched people are going to respond very vigorously. BOM: Sounds like a good sequel.
A good sequel indeed. And one last thing, which I hadn't quite thought of:
BOM: Since Batman is a means to an end, are you rooting for Batman so he can get back to being Bruce Wayne? Nolan: No, I think you're rooting for Batman at the expense of Bruce Wayne. The feeling of the end of the film is the ending, or postponement, of the relationship with Rachel [the character played by Katie Holmes]—it's the ending of the Bruce Wayne story and the beginning of Batman—Batman begins.
This is one of those times where I think my previous exposure to Batman mythology has either led me astray, or I just didn't get it. I had always conceived Bruce Wayne as using Batman as a means to balance justice in the injust Gotham that took his parents lives. Gotham had reached a point where it was so corrupt, the system itself was broken and needed a new catalyst to help restore balance. On a psychological level, I had never really thought that the persona of Bruce Wayne was the facade, instead Batman was the identity assumed to help combat evil, the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman's natural state is Bruce Wayne. That's not what Mr. Nolan is saying. Watch Batman Begins and you can see this woven through the story, Bruce's journey is from grief stricken child, to anger/remorse stricken young adult, to an adult that has assembled all the pieces he needs (identity, company, friends) to do the job of restoring justice to Gotham, to try and achieve justice. By the end of the movie, Bruce has completed his transformation into Batman, he has no emotional capacity to accept love because Bruce Wayne is either buried or no longer exists. Thinking about this reading the interview, Mr. Nolan is right and I am sure glad he was the director on Batman Begins, because he understands this material, treats it with respect, and wants to do it right. Above all, he is committed to doing the best job he can and he has the tools to make it happen. Bravo Mr. Nolan!