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New Batman film draws inspiration from Dickens

Director Christopher Nolan, director of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest Batman film, says filmmakers must be sincere about fears.
by Matthew Price Published: July 20, 2012

Fans know that the Batman character dates to 1939's “Detective Comics” No. 27. But the literary inspiration for this summer's “The Dark Knight Rises” goes back even further — about 80 years further.

At a recent news conference discussing the film, director Christopher Nolan said the final film in his Batman trilogy draws inspiration from the Charles Dickens classic novel “A Tale of Two Cities.” His brother, Jonathan Nolan, shared writing credits on the extensive screenplay with the director.

“When (Jonathan Nolan) showed me his first draft of his screenplay — and it was 400 pages long or something and had all this crazy stuff in it — when he handed it to me, he was like, ‘You've got to think of “A Tale of Two Cities,” which of course you've read.' I said, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely.' I read the script and was a little baffled by a few things and then realized I had never read ‘A Tale of Two Cities.'”

Christopher Nolan's next stop: to immerse himself in the classic novel.

“So I then got the book, read it, absolutely loved it, got completely what he was talking about,” Christopher Nolan said. “Then when I did my draft of the script, it was all about ‘A Tale of Two Cities' and really just trying to follow that, because it just felt exactly the right thing for the world we were dealing with, and what Dickens does in that book in terms of having all of these different characters come together in one unified story with all of these great thematic elements and all of this great emotionalism and drama.”

Jonathan Nolan said he looked at the Dickens novel as an exploration of what can happen when a society is turned inside out.

“Chris and David (Goyer) started developing the story in 2008, right after the second film came out,” Jonathan Nolan said. “Before the recession. Before Occupy Wall Street or any of that. Rather than being influenced by that, I was looking to old good books and good movies, good literature for inspiration. ... What I always felt like we needed to do in a third film was, for lack of a better term, ‘go there.' All of these films have threatened to turn Gotham inside out and to collapse it on itself. None of them have actually achieved that until this film. ‘A Tale of Two Cities' was, to me, one of the most harrowing portraits of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris in France in that period. It's hard to imagine that things can go that badly wrong.”

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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