We’re a couple of weeks on from the height of Bat-fever, during which lines were firmly drawn in the digital sands of the internet and a war of words waged between those who enjoyed the film and the naysayers with their lists of 50 flaws. Achingly bored of such quibbling we actually sat back and ignored the fireworks, instead choosing to spend some time with this ambitious volume that attempts to uncover not only the art and making of The Dark Knight Rises, but the story behind the entire Christopher Nolan directed series of Batman films (a series which, curiously appears to be going by the official title of The Dark Knight Trilogy). 

Text is informative if not exhaustive in tone (this is very much “The Nolan Story”, no mention is made of the long road to the reinvigorated Batflick), and the volume is accessible and clearly intended for as wide an audience as possible. That isn’t to say that it’s all PR fluff and no depth though, and while the focus might be purely on the films as they are, in that area it’s coverage is certainly comprehensive. Split in to three sections, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, and eleven chapters, every area of the films path from scripting through to marketing is covered in great depth. Interviews and access to all of the main players across the production feature, which in turn lead to a number of interesting revelations. 

The story behind Stan Stearns’s iconic photograph of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his deceased father’s coffin being the great inspiration of the early section of Batman Begins is fascinating, and was a genuine revelation to this reader, while elsewhere the genesis of the character of the Joker from The Dark Knight makes for a fascinating sub-chapter: early concept art reveals a figure far more in keeping with the traditional look of the character seen in comic-books and early adaptations of the source material than the creature that Heath Ledger would eventually bring to the screen in 2008. Speaking of Ledger it’s perhaps appropriate that this rather celebratory tome closes with Christopher Nolan’s heartfelt tribute to the actor, ‘Charisma as Natural as Gravity’, originally published in Newsweek magazine just days after Ledger’s untimely death in January 2008. 

The Art & Making Of The Dark Knight Trilogy is the ideal companion piece to a series of films surprisingly under-exposed when it comes to insight in to their production methodology, and it’s done so in a very attractive manner (the book itself is a very handsome coffee-table style unit). Recommended. 

The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy is published by Abrams, and is available now.

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