The Dark Knight Rises is a cinematic event. It is the final instalment of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy, the epic conclusion to events first started in 2005’s Batman Begins. The franchise reached a new level of excitement with the release of The Dark Knight in 2008, a film which broke box office records and won Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award. I was at the film’s European premiere in London to talk to the cast and crew of the most anticipated film of the year.
I made my way down to London (as per usual with this sort of event), to the BFI IMAX cinema for a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. We were ushered inside into the foyer, where the Batpod was on display alongside Batman, Bane and Catwoman’s costume. We had to surrender all electronic equipment before we entered the screening.
This isn’t going to be a review piece, but the film is stunning, powerful and visceral, the perfect end to Nolan’s series. The director takes the film to the next level, not only raising the stakes action wise – but also emotionally. I’ve been a Batman fan for a quarter of a century and it’s great to see the character portrayed in this way. The film looks sumptuous. If you have the opportunity to see it on IMAX, then you should do so – some moments are truly breathtaking.
After the my way to the Odeon in Leicester Square to pick up my press pass for the screening. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I pottered about London, grabbed a coffee and started writing up my notes. I went and took my position on the press line and waited – praying that the rain would hold off (it wouldn’t). Attending the premiere for the film was Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, composer Hans Zimmer, producer Emma Thomas, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan and of course, the man who resuscitated the Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan.
There was a carnival atmosphere in the air; most of Leicester Square was filled with fans eager to catch a glimpse of the film’s stars. Some of those gathered were in costume, while others were wearing Batman themed garments. At the centre of the square stood a giant cracked Batman mask, surrounded by flame shooting jets. The premiere kicked off with ‘The Tumbler’ doing a lap of the square, and then the stars arrived –to cheers from the crowd.
Cast and crew started arriving thick and fast, with Tom Hardy getting loud cheers from the crowd – he worked them like a pro-signing autographs and taking pictures. Hardy spoke to me about what it was like joining the third film in the series:
“They’re all incredible actors and of course Nolan’s an incredible director, so it’s a dream come true.”
He also mentioned how he prepared for the role:
“I went to the gym and I put some weight on, and I put a mask on and I got on stage and I did an accent – that was it.”
Next was an opportunity to speak with the film’s composer, the genius that is Hans Zimmer, and I asked him about the challenges he faced when composing the score for this third film in the series:
“A new villain, not getting sad, that it was our last one, figuring out how not to procrastinate forever, because it was our last one. I didn’t want it to end. In one way or another Chris and I have been working together now for eight years – so it felt a little sad.”
The character of Bane brings an added dimension to this new film, so I asked Zimmer how he created a theme for the character:
“If the truth be told I wrote the Bane thing and recorded it last year, the first of July, in London; before Chris had even started shooting. It just came out of conversations with the script really. So, I just had a really insane idea and went for it and he liked it.
Alright, I’ll tell you the long story. I went to Warner Bros. and asked ‘have I earned the right yet to hire a really big orchestra and try this idea? If it goes wrong then we can chuck it away and don’t mention that I just blew have the budget”. They said go ahead. It turned out okay, and the old chant works.”
Cillian Murphy was also on hand to discuss his small, but piviotal role in the film as Jonathan Crane – the only villain to appear in all three of Nolan’s Batman films.
“I never die, I don’t know why not. It’s just nice to be back, it’s always nice to work with Chris and just nice to play a little part in the last two.”
Without a doubt, one of the most important behind the scenes personnel working on Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has been his brother Jonathan, who co-scripted this film and The Dark Knight. I asked him how he went about concluding the trilogy:
“Different writers and comic book artists have always tried to imagine how this ends, I read all of those. Chris read some, but he was really proceeding from his place with living with this character for ten years now and he’s trying to imagine what is the fitting ending for our take on this character. Chris always had a sense of where we wanted to go and you get to a fundamental moment where if it’s all working, a kind of gravity, where if you add to it, it then supports the underlying idea. I’m very happy with the ending and I certainly hope audiences are.”
The Dark Knight Rises concludes Nolan’s take on the Batman myth and the premiere event concluded with the stars taking their seats in the Odeon to watch the epic battle between Batman and Bane.
The Dark Knight Rises is now on general release, and I highly recommend that you check it out.