Feature by: Jack Foley
HARD as it is to believe, but the origins of Christopher Nolan's
Batman Begins actually lie within another super-hero movie - namely,
Having become attached to the project, Nolan confessed to using
Richard Donner's 1978 classic as the template for how to re-imagine
the ailing Batman franchise.
"I was looking back to a great era of blockbuster filmmaking
from the late 70s where, I think, Hollywood films were doing some
really marvellous escapist entertainment on a grand scale,"
he told the London press conference.
"All of those films, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, the
first Star Wars, Superman, etc, were done over here [in England].
"And the model I’d particularly been looking at was
the 1978 Superman that Richard Donner made.
"They did a certain amount of location shooting in New York
for that film but everything else was done over here at Pinewood
"Similarly, what really makes a film have that marvellous
scale is having a wonderful cast of the finest actors and recognisable
faces playing even some of the smallest roles.
"In Superman, Donner had Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman and
Glenn Ford, an extraordinary ensemble, so that was very much what
we were aspiring to.
"We sort of dared to ask some of the finest actors to take
on these roles and I was able to put together a dream cast. It's
no less than Batman deserves, really."
Batman Begins arguably boasts an even better cast than Superman,
featuring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Katie Holmes,
Sir Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and
Tom Wilkinson to name but a few.
And it dares to explore a far darker
story than any of the previous films, including Tim Burton's much-loved
original, starring Michael Keaton.
But Nolan remains unapologetic, stating: "I always knew
that in making a Batman film, I wanted it to appeal to a wide
range of ages, although I think what we’ve done is probably
a bit intense for the youngest kids.
"The producers were looking for a fresh approach and it
seemed to me that to tell the origin of the story would be pretty
fascinating because it’s a story that’s never been
told on-screen and hasn’t really even definitively been
addressed in any of the comics.
"It’s a story that’s always been treated in
kind of montage and flashback in the past. We wanted to flesh
that out and tell the whole story."
As a result, he cast Christian Bale as the Dark Knight, having
been impressed with the intensity of the actor's work in films
like American Psycho and The Machinist.
"I chose Christian to play Batman based on the idea that
in trying to create a realistic version of the story you need
an actor like Christian who has sufficient intensity and focus
in his eyes to make you believe in the idea that somebody without
superpowers - and Bruce Wayne has no superpowers - could, through
sheer force of will, change himself into a superhero.
"It was very clear to me, from his other performances and
from meeting him in person, that Christian has the ability to
project that kind of intensity and that’s why I asked him
to do the role."
The result is a film that's sure to strike a chord with audiences,
as they embrace a new, more character-driven super-hero experience.
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