There’s a really interesting interview with Christopher Nolan that’s popped up over at the Directors Guild Of America (DGA) website. In it, he talks about why he’s still shooting on film when virtually everyone else has gone digital, why he doesn’t shoot with a second unit, how he works with actors, and why he barely storyboards anything unless he absolutely needs to.
And, inevitably, he talks quite a bit about this summer’s new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, too.
At first, he talks about the movie in the context of the IMAX format, of which he’s a massive fan. He shot some sequences of The Dark Knight, of course, using IMAX, and he’s done the same again with The Dark Knight Rises. But why?
Well, “For The Dark Knight Rises we were on Wall Street with a thousand extras, and you can see everybody’s face in the frame. In some ways, I feel it takes me back almost to the silent film era, when they had those huge cameras. Trying to do things in more of a tableau fashion, it changes the way I direct a film, it changes the way I block the camera movement because of the size of the thing. The resulting image has so much power that you don’t need to cut in the same way, you can frame the shot slightly differently, you wind up with a slightly different feel.”
He went on to add that “We didn’t shoot IMAX for Inception because we were trying to portray the reality of dreams rather than their extraordinary nature, so we used a handheld camera and shot it in a more spontaneous way. Whereas the operatic quality of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises felt very well suited to IMAX’s larger canvas.”
“So it’s different depending on what film you want to do. But, in each case, as a filmmaker who’s been given sizable budgets with which to work, I feel a responsibility to the audience to be shooting with the absolute highest quality technology that I can and make the film in a way that I want.”
So where does that leave 3D? Was there ever any pressure to adopt that for The Dark Knight Rises?
“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. I find stereoscopic imaging too small scale and intimate in its effect. 3D is a misnomer. Films are 3D. 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. So the effect of it, and the relationship of the image to the audience, has to be very carefully considered. And I feel that in the initial wave to embrace it, that wasn’t considered in the slightest.”
It’s a really interesting piece, and well worth reading. You can find the interview in full right here.