Not a Movie Snob - BOF: The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy

Posted on Thursday, January 03, 2013 at 05:00 PM

Books On Film Book Review:

The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy
by Jody Duncan Jesser and Janine Pourroy

'Making of' books for major Hollywood films are a dime a dozen and you often have to really dig around on the shelves to find one that's not only more informative than what you could find on the special features of the DVD, but is the worth the often steep price tag stamped on the back cover.

The first time I saw The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy nestled in between a plethora of similarly titled Nolan Batman books, I didn't even pick it up, thinking it was another in a long line of quick produced movie tie-in cash grabs that had been flooding bookstores since Batman Begins came out and made Warner Bros. a mint back in 2005. One day something compelled me to pick it up though and as my kids created imaginary disasters of epic proportions for the poor passengers of the Thomas train set in the kids section, I leafed through the hefty tome...and began to drool.

More than anything else, this book is absolutely gorgeous. The heavy, glossy pages are filled with beautiful photography from the sets of the films, as well as still photos from the movies themselves. There are hundreds of conceptual photos, early production sketches and candid shots of the filmmakers and performers on and off the set. I've already gone back a few times to flip through the pages and marvel at some of the striking images provided within, or to show off the images to other people when they come over.

The book is filled with text too though. Some of it explaining the photos and the rest separated into eleven chapters and three sections entitled 'Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.' There is also a Forword and an Afterword by Christopher Nolan and an introduction by Michael Caine. The book also features many quotes culled from interviews of the entire cast and crew throughout, so you know this puppy's legit. The authors have been working for Cinefex magazine and writing making of books for high profile films for years and know how to write and how to inform.

As for the information on the films themselves; let's just say that by the time you reach the final stages of Post-Production, you'll feel like you were there alongside Chris for the making of the entire trilogy. There is not one tiny corner of the making of these films that is not uncovered and explained, sometimes in great depth and it truly makes you feel like you're part of the action.

A few interesting tidbits from each film:

In Batman Begins, when Bruce is being trained by Ducard on the ice near the beginning, it was an unseasonably warm week in Iceland where the scene was filmed and the ice was quickly melting and breaking up and there were times when the actors would shoot a few seconds of film and then have to book it back off the pond to avoid falling into the icy waters below. In The Dark Knight, the infamous truck flip was accomplished practically and completely in-camera (without CGI) with a full sized semi in downtown Chicago, using a giant piston fixed into the street. In The Dark Knight Rises, the opening plane hijack sequence was filmed in real planes in the skies above Scotland with only the part where the smaller plane's wings are blown off being filmed with miniatures on a controlled set in London.

To be fair, a lot of the information found within the book can probably be found by watching the special features on the DVD's or Blu-Ray's of the films, but this book is so intricate and big, physically and informatively, there's no doubt there will be things regarding the production that can only be found here. Once you read the book through though, you'll probably only return to it for the photos, which is fine as, again, they are amazing.

If you're a huge Dark Knight trilogy fan, it goes without saying that this is the one book on the trilogy that you should own. If you're interested in the filmmaking process or how Christopher Nolan works, it goes without saying that this is the book you should own to learn all you need to know in regards to both. It's well written, well researched, beautiful looking and beautifully put together.

As a film fan, your coffee table just wouldn't be the same without it.

Rating: ****½



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