In 2005, director Christopher Nolan reinvigorated Warner Bros.’ blundering Batman film franchise with Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as Gotham’s caped crusader.
A dark, realistic reboot of DC’s brooding avenger, Batman Begins explored the comic book hero’s origins and his evolution from billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne to watchful protector, combating crime and corruption in Gotham City.
A 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, took the intriguing, character-driven premise and raised the stakes, pitting Batman in an all-out war against the Joker (Heath Ledger), a sinister agent of chaos who killed Bruce Wayne’s greatest love and transformed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into the vengeful Two-Face.
2012’s The Dark Knight Rises provided a definitive conclusion to the Dark Knight legend as masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) held Gotham City hostage under the fear of nuclear annihilation, forcing the Dark Knight to resurface and save a city that branded him an enemy.
Designed by world-renowned graphic designer Chip Kidd, The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy tells the complete behind-the-scenes story of these influential films. Based on in-depth interviews with Nolan and all of the films’ key cast and crew — including co-writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, cinematographer Wally Pfister, and more — this hardcover coffee table book reveals the creative process behind the epic Dark Knight Trilogy, accented by beautiful artwork and never-before-seen set photography.
Writers Janine Pourroy and Jody Duncan Jesser are no strangers to the inner-workings of blockbuster cinema. As a writer for Cinefex magazine, Pourroy has covered special and visual effects in film since 1985, while Jesser has served as editor of Cinefex since 1992. She is the author of 10 books covering the making of films, including Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Jurassic Park, and Avatar.
Every aspect of Nolan’s filmmaking process is detailed in Jesser and Pourroy’s fantastic, gorgeous book, accompanied by hundreds of high-quality photographs and illustrations. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in this epic tome of awesomeness:
Chapter 1. Screenplay – The first chapter details how the initial concepts were conceived by Nolan and Goyer and discusses the writing process for all three scripts. The filmmakers talk at length about their inspirations and specific comic book stories they pulled from in crafting their story.
Chapter 2. Production Design – A complete look at the design of the films, including creating Wayne Manor and Gotham’s slum-of-all-slums, the Narrows. There’s lots of fantastic information (and conceptual art) that covers the scouting and dressing of locations as well as Batman’s vehicles and gadgets.
Chapter 3. Cast – The filmmakers discuss casting the iconic characters of Batman, Alfred, Gordon, and the Dark Knight’s villains. While a majority of this chapter is dedicated to talking about Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, practically every cast member from the trilogy is featured and discusses the process they took in bringing their characters to life.
Chapter 4. Costumes & Makeup – A fantastic look at the costumes of the trilogy, complete with tons of wardrobe sketches. You’ll see how the Joker’s makeup was created, as well as the painstaking process of creating Bane’s mask and how Harvey Dent’s horrifying Two-Face was brought to life. This chapter also chronicles the design of Batman’s iconic costume and the modifications that were made for each film.
Chapter 5. The Shoot: Batman Begins – The production of the first film, from the 129-day shoot, to Nolan’s directorial style is covered, as well as the logistics of filming on locating and shooting the film’s epic Tumbler chase, where Batman’s tank-like Batmobile scrambles and rockets over Gotham’s rooftops.
Chapter 6. The Shoot: The Dark Knight – The filmmakers talk about filming in Chicago and the natural progression of Gotham City as a less romantic, more modern location. There’s also lots of information about the Gotham General Hospital demolition and how IMAX cameras informed the cinematography of the film.
Chapter 7. The Shoot: The Dark Knight Rises – This chapter highlights filming in the stadium sequences in Pittsburgh and the prison scenes in India, as well as the film’s opening plane sequence (which was shot practically). For most, this chapter will prove to be the most intriguing, being as most of the other making-of information from the previous two films has been documented on home video releases. This is no doubt a sneak preview of what we might get on the upcoming Blu-Ray release.
Chapter 8. Special Effects & Stunts – There’s lots of information about the insane amount of stunt work with effects coordinator Chris Corbould. You’ll also get an extensive look at the fight choreography of the Batman and Bane’s battles, as well as the massive war between Gotham’s finest and Bane’s minions.
Chapter 9. Editing, Music, and Sound – Lee Smith talks extensively on editing the Dark Knight Trilogy, detailing the process of how to cut effectively between parallel storylines and action sequences. The films’ music is covered, including quotes from composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Sound Designers discuss the trilogy’s sounds and mixing them effectively with the music. You’ll probably be most interested to read about Bane’s voice, as they address initial concerns with being able to understand the masked, muffled villain.
Chapter 10. Visual Effects – Every method of visual effect was used in creating Nolan’s Batman films From models and miniatures to computer-generated cityscapes and flying machines, this chapter illustrates the painstaking work that went into bringing Gotham City and its characters to life. You’ll see how the digital bats were created in Batman Begins, as well as the monorail crash, and the stadium explosion from The Dark Knight Rises.
Chapter 11. Marketing – Full coverage of each film’s promotional materials, including tons of poster designs to the unique “viral marketing” that emphasized social media to get the audience to participate in the film’s release.
The Art and Making Of The Dark Knight Trilogy also includes a foreword by Christopher Nolan (his farewell letter to the franchise) and an introduction by Michael Caine. Printed at the end of the book is a tribute that Nolan wrote about the late Heath Ledger, titled “Charisma as Natural as Gravity,” which was originally published in Newsweek shortly after the actor’s death in 2008.
I’ve got to say, I own several huge coffee table books about movies and pop culture – and several books on the making-of such films – and The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy is by far one of the most in-depth, all-encompassing books of its kind. If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan, Batman, or filmmaking in general, you should own this book.
You can currently pick up The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy on Amazon for the insanely low price of $26.40, and while this 304-page hardcover has a suggest retail price of $40.00, I could easily see it selling for $60-$75 because of the crazy amount of Bat-tastic geeky goodness within. BUY. THIS. BOOK.