Fans of Christopher Nolan are generally in awe of his intellectual approach to modern cinema. Be it experimenting with chronology to dizzying effect in Memento or trusting broad audiences to follow the complicated machinations of Inception, Nolan seems to bring a bit of class to genres that are often overrun by crass commercialism. So, we really shouldn't be so surprised that he and his screenwriting brother Jonathan Nolan have found inspiration for the finale of their Dark Knight cycle in a work of classic literature.
Coming Soon reports Nolan has confessed that nothing less than Charles Dickens' classic novel A Tale of Two Cities influenced the development of The Dark Knight Rises. If you haven't read this hallmark of high school assigned reading, don't worry, neither had Christopher Nolan. That is until Jonathan—or Jonah as his brother calls him—handed him the first draft of The Dark Knight Rises, which came in around 400 pages and told the director, "You've got to think of A Tale of Two Cities which, of course, you've read." Christopher responded, "Absolutely," but as he read the script and was "a little baffled," he realized he actually hadn't ever read the classic. "Then I got it, read it and absolutely loved it and got completely what he was talking about... When I did my draft on the script, it was all about A Tale of Two Cities."
Speaking on particulars, Jonathan explained he was attracted to Dickens' portrayal of a society in upheaval over class warfare. "A Tale of Two Cities was, to me, one of the most harrowing portrait of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris in France in that period. It's hard to imagine that things can go that badly wrong."
For those unfamiliar, A Tale of Two Cities split its focus between London and Paris, exploring the social injustice that led to the French Revolution and paralleling it with life in England. To give a thorough insight, the book follows several characters, and it seems so will The Dark Knight Rises as Nolan has confessed, "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."
Does this mean true Dark Knight devotees should brush up on the novel? Probably not. Don't get me wrong, doing so could provide a unique insight into Nolan's filmmaking process, but it's highly unlikely more casual moviegoers would be lost if they don't delve into the Nolan brothers' literary inspirations. Still, I'll be curious to see what sort of meme response will come from the super specific band of fans who adore both Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and the works of Charles Dickens. Seriously, bookworms, tweet at me.
The Dark Knight Rises opens in theaters on July 20th.