The Amazing Spider-Man’s Marc Webb isn’t the only director quoting Charles Dickens this summer (he finds the whole notion of these kids having a generosity of spirit yet distrust for the world around them very provocative). In The Dark Knight Rises (July 20), there’s a crucial moment in which A Tale of Two Cities is cited, which is appropriate considering the dark ambiguity, the theme of orphans, and the destruction of Gotham.
At Sunday’s press conference in Beverly Hills, Christopher Nolan was asked about the Dickens reference. At first, he admitted that he’d never read the literary masterpiece and wanted to understand what his brother, Jonathan Nolan, was referring to in his draft. Then the director read it and got what his brother meant about “the most harrowing portrait of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris.” It was very much like Inception since they finally turned Gotham inside out “so it collapses on itself.”
“When I did my draft on the script, it was all about A Tale of Two Cities,” the director explained. “What Dickens does in that book in terms of having all his characters come together in one unified story with all these thematic elements and all this great emotionalism and drama, it was exactly the tone we were looking for.”
At the same time, Christian Bale said he was amazed at how topical The Dark Knight Rises script was. When they were shooting the terrorist attack on the Stock Exchange in New York, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration was happening a couple of blocks away. But Nolan underplayed the prescience. He maintained that it was purely metaphorical and that what he’s interested in is myth making. “These are larger than life characters and I very much enjoy tapping into this operatic sensibility of that: I really try to push the audience and the emotions in extreme directions using those characters, and I think naturally from that you’re aiming for mythic status. And there’s a nice correspondence between that impulse in why you want to make the film and why audiences hopefully want to enjoy the film.”