The art of filmmaking is one of those fields that is inconceivable to most. There's so much to it, such as writing the screenplay, storyboarding, casting the actors, setting up a film crew, directing, producing, composing the music, shooting, post-production, working to budget, marketing etc. Even if you've got the gist of it, this is an art-field of such magnitude where it's so easy to forget and overlook all the talent, preperation and sheer hard work that goes into producing films/blockbusters of all styles.
This is what went through my mind all the time I was reading The Art & Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy. To even make ONE absolutely excellent Batman film (Batman Begins) is an outstanding achievement, but to surpass that with an unmissable, Oscar-winning sequel (The Dark Knight) and then conclude the saga with an excellent third part (The Dark Knight Rises) is an incredible (and remarkable) achievement. One that leaves you reeling so much, that you're left forgetting that it's not JUST Christopher Nolan (or the likes of Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine etc) we have to thank for such greatness...it's ALL involved.
IN - EVERYTHING.
The Art & Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy is a truly MAMMOTH book, one that makes the reader realise they had little-to-no idea of the full extent of just what went into making Christopher Nolan's vision of Batman the revolutionary triumph it became. It covers all the essentials in wonderful, engaging detail; everything from conception, screenplay, design & casting to shooting the films themselves, directing, producing, post-production, scoring, campaigning & the impact the trilogy has made.
The book (published by Abrams) is a collaboration by Jody Duncan Jesser and Janine Pourroy, and together they've produced something which they should be proud of. It's a whopping great hardback that's absolutely packed with gorgeous colour photos of all sizes (from filming to still captures of the films), all manner of costume/vehicle/set designs, storyboards, sculptures, model miniatures, testing and snippets of the original comics which provided inspiration.
This tapestry of beautiful imagery is counter-balanced by Jesser & Pourroy's very well-written account, which is composed of quotes and discussions from cast members and crews, improvisation techniques, the amazing efforts of Christian Bale, Tom Hardy etc, working with Heath Ledger, the use of special effects and real-life stunts, filming in IMAX, and all manner of fascinating short-stories and various anecdotes. The story provides a truly inspirational insight into what a highly creative mind Nolan has, as well as shedding light on the contributions of not just the cast, but the stunt teams and extras as well. It all gets the message across; it was a herculean effort to produce something of this magnitude. And to hear of just how much everyone put into this reboot of the Batman film-franchise is nothing short of impressive.
Of course, all this is a given. Fans of the films and Batman in general are obviously going to want to purchase this book to know just how much time, work and money Nolan and the gang put in to this trilogy. But what particularly serves The Art & Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy well is how the authors (and Abrams) have put the whole book together. The layout is impeccable, with the image use being hugely impressive, yet not dominating the hardback. It doesn't detract anything from the text or the story that Jesser and Pourroy are telling. The pacing of the writing is excellent, nothing's wasted, and those who've yet to see The Dark Knight Rises will be pleased to know that there are no major spoilers. And yet, the writers are still able to apply and generate the same level of fascination in the relevant chapters as they do for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which speaks highly of the calibre of the work. The type-setting, the picture captions, the impressive two-page photo spreads, the binding, the dust-jacket...everything about this book just reeks of professionalism.
The only things about the product that you may have problems with are being careful not to crease the beautiful dust-jacket and the sheer weight of the hardback might make it tough to handle. A LOT has been packed into this book, which isn't surprising given the subject matter. And at twenty-five quid, it's obviously pricy, but in my honest opinion, it's worthy every penny. The Art & Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy is the ideal coffee-table companion for all fans and will certainly whet fans' appetites long enough for The Dark Knight Rises to come out on DVD.
Mr. Nolan and everyone else...THANK YOU.