Director Christopher Nolan Talks IMAX, Special Effects, and Why Dark Knight Rises Isn't in 3-D
04.14.12 by Chris
With a resume that includes movies like Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight, and this summer's The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan has established himself as one Hollywood's most preeminent directors.
Nolan, who doesn't give out too many interviews, did a Q&A with the the Directors Guild of America, where he talked about his unique style of filmmaking and why he makes the decisions he makes behind the camera, including only shooting with one camera.
I use multi-camera for stunts; for all the dramatic action, I use single-camera. Shooting single-camera means I've already seen every frame as it’s gone through the gate because my attention isn't divided to multi-cameras. So I see it all and I watch dailies every night. If you’re always shooting multi-camera, you shoot an enormous amount of footage, and then you have to go in and start from scratch, which is tricky time-wise
In the interview Nolan also reveals he doesn't use storyboards, has avoided re-shoots on all his movies, prefers film over digital, and thinks IMAX is the future of cinema, not 3-D.
I think IMAX is the best film format that was ever invented. It’s the gold standard and what any other technology has to match up to, but none have, in my opinion. . . 3-D is a misnomer. Films are 3-D. The whole point of photography is that it’s three-dimensional. The thing with stereoscopic imaging is it gives each audience member an individual perspective. It’s well suited to video games and other immersive technologies, but if you're looking for an audience experience, stereoscopic is hard to embrace. I prefer the big canvas, looking up at an enormous screen and at an image that feels larger than life. When you treat that stereoscopically, and we've tried a lot of tests, you shrink the size so the image becomes a much smaller window in front of you.
While Nolan said he wasn't pressured to make Dark Knight Rises in 3-D, he did say if he had, he would have made a lot of studio suits happy.
Warner Bros. would have been very happy, but I said to the guys there that I wanted it to be stylistically consistent with the first two films and we were really going to push the IMAX thing to create a very high-quality image.
Nolan is also unique in the fact that he doesn't shoot with a second-unit team, meaning he's behind the camera in every shot in his movies, from cutaways, establishing shots (usually arial shots of cities and buildings), to cutaways. Not using a second unit on smaller movies is not uncommon but for a complex, action movie like Dark Knight Rises, it's nearly unheard of.
Let me put it this way: If I don’t need to be directing the shots that go in the movie, why do I need to be there at all? The screen is the same size for every shot. The little shot of, say, a watch on someone’s wrist, will occupy the same screen size as the shot of a thousand people running down the street. Everything is equally weighted and needs to be considered with equal care, I really do believe that. I don’t understand the criteria for parceling things off. Many action films embrace a second unit taking on all of the action. For me, that’s odd because then why did you want to do an action film?
The Dark Knight Rises was written by Nolan's brother, Jonathan, from an idea conceived by Nolan and David S. Goyer. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, as do Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Sir Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Nestor Carbonell as the mayor of Gotham City, and Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. New additions to the cast include Tom Hardy as the villain Bane (pictured above), Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, Josh Pence as the younger version of Ra's al Ghul (the elder version was played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins), Marion Cotillard as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as policeman John Blake.