Interview: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN MESMERIZES OVER THE PRESTIGE
The director of the magician flick talks the challenges of making a small film and working with Christian Bale again.
Source: iF Magazine
Christopher Nolan made a big impact with the amazing re-imaging of BATMAN BEGINS with a tale of the Dark Knight the way it should have been from the beginning and luckily for everyone no Governator in sight.
THE PRESTIGE is a far cry from BATMAN BEGINS in that it focuses on two competing magicians who are so fierce in their rivalry that it leads to murder. The film is a turn-of-the-century period thriller with no spandex in site and that means no superheroes but real world representations of character and, of course, the evil within humanity.
“I think that any field where obsessive behavior and extraordinary ambition are rewarded is a place where certainly that environment becomes conducive to otherwise unacceptable behavior,” Nolan says. “I think that human society has all kinds of rationalizations and structures that allow for inhuman behavior whether it's the corporate structure that depersonalizes behavior towards other people or other institutions or whether it's the excuse of supporting a family or ambition or artistic achievement – whatever it is.”
And people behaving badly is what THE PRESTIGE is all about and for Nolan that is where the mystery and the extraordinary nature of characters in film comes into play.
The novel which THE PRESTIGE was based on presented its own challenges because squeezing down a sprawling book into a two hour movie isn’t the easiest thing to do.
“I think that the biggest challenge was probably translating some of the narrative devices that we really wanted to retain such as the use of diary's in the book and the specific resonance of that. Other things that we tried to retain like the present day framing device ultimately could not stand and we replaced them with different framing devices,” Nolan says. “So it took a long time really to whittle it down and really focus on the essential elements that would make a movie. It's a loose adaptation, but I think that it's one that's true to the spirit of the novel.”
But that was only one part of the challenge for Nolan and after having such a large budget for BATMAN BEGINS to direct a film on a much smaller scale presented challenges of there own. “I found THE PRESTIGE in technical terms to be something of a refresher course in keeping filmmaking a little looser and little more spontaneous and in going back to a more formal and bigger budget, an action film and all the rest, I would hate to not retain some of that spirit,” Nolan says. “It was a fun way to make the film and it was much more in line with my first films in terms of just the feel of the filmmaking and it was fun to get back to that, and it's certainly something that I wouldn't want to dismantle. There is no reason to.”
Nolan wasn’t afraid that using Christian Bale again would be a problem after playing BATMAN because his chracters are never written with a specific actor in mind. “I don't think of performers because I find that limiting because you start to write them as like Christian Bale in AMERICAN PSYCHO or Christian Bale in …” Nolan says. “I always try to view the characters as simply who they are in the script and so before I finished the script I certainly didn't say to him, ‘Oh, I have this great part.’ Or anything like that.”
Actually, Nolan was afraid Bale might balk at the idea of working with him because of the possibility of the two doing another BATMAN film shortly. “So that's three films in a row,” he says. “That's a very long road to walk together, but he seemed up for it which was great.”