You know how it is. Those nice people from Abrams & Chronicle send me a selection of books and glancing through them, deciding which to read first, when I got to ‘The Art And Making Of The Dark Knight Trilogy’, I started to read first rather than just look at all the pictures. It then took a hefty week of reading to digest all the information about the three recent Batman films.
Interestingly, authors Jody Duncan Jesser and Janine Pourroy don’t deal with the trilogy in film order, but breakdown the eleven chapters into pre-production with screenplay, cast and design, before splitting into each film and then back to individual chapters on special effects, music and marketing. As long as you keep it right in your head, then it shouldn’t confuse you too much in that the early and final chapters span eight years.
Interesting facts learnt is how Wayne Manor was sourced in the UK using Mentmore Towers. Gotham City was also built here inside a giant hanger here so they could film during the day. Considering the hanger being made film-worthy, one can only hope that the space will be used for other film productions. His choice of Chicago for exterior filming of Gotham City isn’t unusual as in comicbook circles, it was always assumed that was the original template, contrary to comments later in the book because we always saw Metropolis as being a thinly disguised New York. The authors point out all the locations, especially in the UK, and I can see fans using this book as a basis to look them over.
Christian Bale chose the gruff voice for Batman, although I have to confess it growled too much for me to always make out what he was saying. Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are comicbook fans from different eras. Director Christopher Nolan is also taller than Tom Hardy aka Bane as witnessed by a photograph on page 104!!
Speaking of photos, it goes without saying that these showing the designs and innards of the Tumbler and Bat-pod, from scratch-build model to full-size prop are jaw-dropping. Uniquely, for a stunt-car, it survives all possible crashes with barely a scratch, although it only had one driver so doubt if it’ll be in a car showroom any time soon.
It might have made more sense to have had the two major Bat-costume designs placed together as a comparison but the evolution between the two is fascinating and I’m sure designers involved in future Bat-films will ensure lessons learnt from the second Bat-suit will be used to ensure the actor is more comfortable when disguised. It was also interesting to learn that modern technology like laser scanning is being used to make face castings and 3D printing to make small props and masks or, as with Two-Face, establishing a CGI half-face.
Something I hadn’t realised was that Chris Nolan didn’t require a second unit director but wanted to work up close with the action, giving instruction to stunt driver George Cottle passing direction as he drove the Tumbler and probably saved a lot of re-takes that way in the first film. I wonder how many other directors will follow his lead in this in future?
I think my enthusiasm for this book should point out that if you’re a fan of these three Batman films then you’ll want to have this book in your collection. It really does have it all. If you’re not thrilled by the detail the text presents, then the photos from behind the scenes in pre-production to on-set will certainly do. Nothing is wasted in this book. Excuse me, I have to watch the first two films again so I’m ready and waiting for the third release on DVD.
(pub: Abrams & Chronicle Books. 303 page illustrated large hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $40.00 (US), $45.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-0369-0)
check out website: www.abramsandchronicles.co.uk