|Christopher Nolan Director||previously directed The Prestige|
Batman has to walk the thin line between hero and criminal in Christopher Nolan's second Batman film, which won an Academy Award for Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, and went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Aaron Eckhart got the role of Harvey Dent based on his performance in the movie Thank You for Smoking.21 More Trivia
The end of the film is a homage to Shane, with a small blonde boy calling out Batman's name as he rides away, injured, into the sunrise, just as Shane did into the sunset.3 More Movie References
39 More Quotes
Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. *Hit me!*
|Christopher Nolan||Screenplay & Story|
|David S. Goyer||Story|
|Michael Caine||Alfred Pennyworth|
|Gary Oldman||James Gordon|
|Maggie Gyllenhaal||Rachel Dawes|
|Morgan Freeman||Lucius Fox|
|Eric Roberts||Salvatore Maroni|
|Monique Gabriela Curnen||Anna Ramirez|
|See Full Credits|
The Dark Knight is the second film in director Christopher Nolan's update of the Batman franchise known as The Dark Knight Trilogy and is based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane. It is a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins and precedes 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. The film follows Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), his assistant Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) as they struggle to fight the evil and terror brought by The Joker (Heath Ledger).
The film was released on July 16 in Australia, July 18 in the United States and July 24 in the United Kingdom. It was met with overwhelmingly positive critical reception and went on to receive more than $1 billion worldwide, placing it as the sixth highest grossing film of all time.
The scene is Gotham City. The Joker has organized a mob bank robbery with his accomplices, who he tricks into killing one another, leaving only the Joker unscathed at the end. Meanwhile, Batman and police lieutenant James Gordon consider bringing in Harvey Dent, the new district attorney, to help with their plans to eradicate the mob. Batman is at first unsure if Harvey can be trusted. As Bruce Wayne, he later meets Rachel Dawes and Harvey, who are dating. Wayne realizes Harvey's commitment to the city, and offers to hold a fund-raiser on his behalf.
Meanwhile, mob bosses Sal Maroni, Gambol and "the Chechen" are discussing Batman and Dent's crack down on Gotham's organized crime. Lau, a Chinese Triad accountant, appears via video link and tells them he has hidden their money and fled to Hong Kong in an attempt to stop Gordon's plan to seize the funds. The Joker appears in the meeting with a warning that Batman will be after Lau. He offers to kill Batman for half of the mob's money, but they refuse and Gambol instead places a bounty on the Joker - who shortly thereafter proceeds to kill Gambol and take control of his men.
As Joker predicted, Batman captures Lau and delivers him to the Gotham City police where Lau agrees to testify against the mob. When Gordon and Harvey arrest the mob, the Joker issues a message that he will kill people each day until Batman's identity is revealed. Commissioner Gillian Loeb and the judge overseeing the mob trials are both murdered, leading the public to blame Batman for not outing himself. At Loeb's memorial service, Gordon is shot and killed by the Joker when he stops an attempt to assassinate the mayor. Feeling guilty for all the deaths he's indirectly caused, Bruce plans to reveal his identity at a press conference, but instead, to protect the truth, Harvey announces he is Batman and is taken into protective custody. While he is being escorted in an armored truck, the Joker pursues him in an attempt to murder him. Batman manages to stop him, and Gordon, who'd faked his death to lure the Joker into the open, arrests him.
Batman interrogates the Joker and learns that he'd bought Harvey's drivers. The Joker explains that Harvey and Rachel have been taken to buildings on opposite sides of town; both are set to explode at the same time. Batman goes after Rachel while the police go for Harvey. During this, the Joker escapes custody with Lau by detonating a bomb placed under a convict's skin. When Batman arrives at the building he instead finds Harvey and rescues him, despite Harvey's pleading that he should have saved Rachel instead. The buildings explode and Rachel dies, while half of Harvey's face is burnt.
The Joker kills Lau and the Chechen, then takes over his men. Meanwhile, Coleman Reese, a stockbroker working at Wayne Enterprises, has discovered Batman's identity. He fails to blackmail the company and decides to go public. The Joker then issues an ultimatum, stating that he underestimated how much 'fun' Batman was, and that he no longer wishes to know his identity. He then threatens to destroy a hospital if Reese is not killed within the hour. Bruce saves Reese from an attempted murder, without even putting on the suit. Meanwhile, Harvey, in a hospital ward and fueled by trauma and vengeance, is paid a visit by the Joker. Harvey is convinced that it was nothing more than chance that lead to Rachel's death, and that he should give a 50/50 chance of survival or death to each of those who played a part in Rachel's death, as well as Gordon and Batman. First on the list is the Joker himself, who is given a pass by fate. The mad clown then blows up the hospital and exits on a bus of hostages.
Dent deals with Maroni and the corrupt cops one by one. Now with complete control over the mob, the Joker issues a message that anyone left in Gotham by nightfall will be under his command. Later that night, as civilians of Gotham are being evacuated from the city on ferries, the Joker reveals he has placed explosives on two of the ferries - one full of citizens and another with convicts from Gotham prison - and tells them that the only way to survive is to trigger the explosion of the other ferry, otherwise he'll blow them both at midnight. Gordon sends S.W.A.T. teams in order to take out the Joker, but Batman is forced to stop them when he discovers that the Joker has disguised the hostages as his own men, and vice-versa. Ultimately, neither ferry decides to kill the other and the Joker is captured. He reveals that, unlike Batman's incorruptibility, he has changed Harvey.
Batman finds Harvey at the remains of the building where Rachel was killed, holding Gordon and his family at gunpoint. Dent determines the fate of Batman, himself and Gordon's son - which would punish Gordon far more than his own death - with three tosses of his coin. As a result of the first two flips he shoots Batman and spares himself. Before Harvey can find out the fate of Gordon's son, Batman, who was wearing protective body armor, tackles him over the side of the building. Batman clings to the bottom of the ledge, but Harvey falls to the ground and dies. Knowing that the citizens of Gotham will lose hope if Harvey's sudden rampage becomes public knowledge, Batman convinces Gordon to tell people that Batman was responsible for the murders. The police begin a hunt for Batman and Gordon smashes the Bat-Signal.
Before the release of Batman Begins, screenwriter David S. Goyer said that his plan for The Dark Knight was to involve Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent bringing down the Joker, with the third film seeing the Joker going on trial and scarring Dent in the process.
In October 2006, film location manager Robin Higgs visited Liverpool to scope out the city and the waterfront. He also went to see Yorkshire, Glasgow and parts of London. Principal photography was originally due to start in March 2007, but filming was then pushed back to April.
The Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago was used as the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises. Other locations in Chicago included 330 North Wabash, LaSalle Street, Wacker Drive, Navy Pier, The Berghoff and Millennium Station. Nolan chose to shoot in Chicago for thirteen weeks after having a "truly remarkable experience" there when filming Batman Begins. The film was given the title Rory's First Kiss to try and draw attention away from production, but local media quickly reported on the reality of the filming. The Dark Knight's production in Chicago generated thousands of jobs and $45 million for the city's economy. Elsewhere, Pinewood Studios, near London, was used as the primary studio space.
Director Christopher Nolan shot four sequences using IMAX cameras to make them more immersion for the audience. Although he wished he could film the entirety in IMAX, the cameras are quite expensive and loud. Nolan said they had to find a way to eliminate the sound to be able to shoot dialogue and cope with the weight of the actual camera and short length of the loads. One of the scenes shot in IMAX was the Joker's entrance in order to make sure he had a grand opening. However, not all IMAX scenes were action-packed, as they were also used for quieter scenes which Nolan thought would be pictorially interesting.
In September 2007, special effects technician Conway Wickliffe was killed during a test run-through with the Batmobile in Chertsey, Surrey. The film is dedicated to Ledger and Wickliffe. The following month in London, some local residents rang the police fearing a terrorist attack after a 200-foot fireball flew up from the Battersea Power Station, a defunct electricity generating plant. It was reported that the stunt was to be used in the opening sequence of the film, though no such fireball exists in the introduction. A similar event occurred in Chicago during the demolition of an abandoned Brach's Confections factory.
From November 6 to November 11, 2007, filming took place in Hong Kong at locations including the International Finance Centre and Peninsula Hotel. City officials expressed concern over the noise pollution and traffic. In response, The Dark Knight's production company sent thousands of letters to residents explaining that a C130 aircraft will be used in downtown areas to film the city's evening skyline. They also stated the sound level will be similar to that of buses. However, environmentalists complained of the wasted energy when the filmmakers' requested the waterfront skyscrapers to keep their lights on all night for cinematographic enhancements. Cinematographer Wally Pfister described the Chinese government as "a nightmare" as they wanted to limit the amount of helicopter activity over the city. Ultimately, Nolan had to create Batman's skyscraper jump digitally.
The Dark Knight's film score was composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and was recorded in April 2008. The soundtrack was released on July 15, 2008, and came in three editions: CD, a limited edition CD digipak and digital download. A limited edition 180-gram vinyl LP was released on August 12, 2008. A special edition featuring two discs was released on December 9, 2008.
Zimmer and Howard purposely set out to create a theme that couldn't be hummed. They didn't want to write a traditional, conventional superhero theme as it can mislead about that character and would falsely define emotions. Their theme is more about the implications and the menace behind it. Zimmer says that he doesn't see Batman as a superhero, saying that the "complex agenda" through Batman's philosophy meant he wanted to take out "anything that is super" from the score. A heroic theme does appear early on, and ultimately twice, which Zimmer says is to "highlight the red herring of the Batman."
Zimmer mainly focused on composing the Joker's score, drawing comparisons to German electronic music band Kraftwerk and English gothic punk band The Damned. Zimmer described it as "very industrial music," with Howard calling it "untethered" and existing "somewhere in the cracks." On hearing of Heath Ledger's death, Zimmer considered scrapping all the music he'd written for the Joker and start from scratch. However, he realized that would be exactly the wrong thing to do and that he couldn't compromise the evil Ledger's character projects in order to be sentimental. Howard took on Harvey Dent, contrasting the Joker theme with "something really elegant and beautiful."
The soundtrack sold around 25,000 copies in its first week and debuted in position 20 on the United States Billboard 200. It fell to 23 in the second week, selling an estimated 20,000 copies. The third week saw its drop from the Top 100, managing to hold in at 192 with 2,100 sales, before falling out of the Top 200 in the fourth week.
The soundtrack received mostly positive reviews from critics. IGN highly praised the opening track 'Why So Serious?', saying it "may be the most daring and jarring music either composer has ever laid to tape," summing the soundtrack up as "glowering," "intense" and "persistently nerve-wracking." SoundtrackNet commended Zimmer and Howard on pushing "the boundaries between score and sound design" with impressive creativity. However, Filmtracks calls Hans Zimmer's scoring methods "predictable" and his theme for the Joker as "unlistenable." The review goes on to say the score is carried solely on the quality of the film and criticizes the simplistic style and lack of creativity to the music, summed up by stating that "Zimmer can't be let off the hook for his tiring self-references and over-thought attempts at innovation."
On February 8, 2009, the soundtrack won the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album. It was also awarded a Classic BRIT Award for Best Soundtrack in May 2009.
The world premiere for The Dark Knight was held on July 14, 2008 in New York and was screened in an IMAX theatre. Once inside, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, the film's composers, played part of the film's score live, complete with a light show featuring a Batman signal. Crowd turnout was such that people overflowed from the theatre on Manhattan's 68th street to Broadway, shutting down traffic over one block during rush hour. In memory of Heath Ledger, the stars walked down a black carpet instead of the traditional red. The Hollywood Reporter noted that there were several mid-screening ovations for the late actor. At the after party, memorabilia from the film such as Joker masks and the Batman costume were on display. The bar was also decorated with Joker writing and the Bat symbol hanging down from above.
The UK premiere was held in London at the Odeon Leicester Square on July 21, 2008. Along with stars from the film, the Batmobile was also on the red carpet and raced up and down to crowd cheers.
The Dark Knight was met with intense praise from critics on release. A collection of 274 reviews on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes lists the film as "certified fresh" with an approval rating of 93% and an average score of 8.7/10. Among the top critics, a hand-picked selection of notable and reliable outlets, the film has received 100% from twelve "fresh" reviews. The general consensus is described as "Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga." By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating from mainstream critics, calculated an average of 82% based on 39 reviews.
Mark Dinning, writing for Empire magazine, described the film as a "spectacular, visionary blockbuster entertainment: pretty much everything you could hope for and then some," citing Heath Ledger's "monumental" performance and claiming that "The Dark Knight is Ledger’s movie." Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times praised the "powerful" acting for creating characters to care about and the deep, emotional drama, though not being overshadowed by it's "spectacular special effects." Ebert sums the film up as being "a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy," later going on to place it in his twenty favorite films of 2008. In The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, Peter Bradshow writes of Heath Ledger's "tremendously" twisted and quirky portrayal of the Joker and describes how the audience was in disbelief at the huge and awe-inspiring action sequences. Bradshow says that The Dark Knight is "dark, grandiose and mad" and that it is much better than other recent super-hero movies. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says that Christian Bale is "electrifying" in the lead role and that Aaron Eckhart's portrayal of Harvey Dent is "scarily moving." He also praises Wally Pfister's cinematography in creating a "gritty reality" with a "raw and elemental" feeling to it. Justin Chang in Variety says that despite more linearity than some of Nolan's other movies, like Memento or The Prestige, The Dark Knight still "pivots with similar ingenuity on a breathless series of twists and turns."
On the other hand, Chang thinks that the film's subplot is the weakest link, saying that there is not enough screen time available to make the psychological motivation "entirely credible." In The New Yorker, David Denby speaks mainly negative criticism, saying that Warner Bros. has drained "the poetry, fantasy, and comedy" that was found in Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Denby says that due to the lighting and editing, it is hard to make out or enjoy any of the fight scenes. He goes on to say that "only half the team can act," calling out Christian Bale for a "placid" Bruce Wayne. Denby speaks praise only for Heath Ledger, calling him "mesmerizing" and citing his performance as "a heroic, unsettling final act." He summarizes by calling The Dark Knight "jammed together," lacking a shaped narrative and blaming the frenzied pace causing the film to be in a "constant climax" and discarding characters with "a casual nod."
On The Dark Knight's opening day of July 18, 2008 it set a new midnight record of $18.5 million, topping the previous $16.9 achieved by 2005's Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. However, this record was broken again a year later by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's grossing of over $22 million.
The film grossed a total of $67,165,092 on its opening day in the domestic office, beating the previous $59.8 million by Spider-Man 3 in 2007. Again, a year later, this record was beat by The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which grossed nearly £73 million.
Heath Ledger was by far the most prominently awarded, taking over twenty awards for his acting. These included the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The film also received nominations from the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. The American Film Institute named the film as one of the top ten films of 2008.
At the 81st Ceremony of the Academy Awards, The Dark Knight was nominated for eight awards. This broke the record of the most nominations received by a film based on a comic book, strip or graphic novel, previously held by Dick Tracy's seven. The Dark Knight won Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger and Best Sound Editing for Richard King (his second Academy Award in this last category, the first being for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). Ledger was the first posthumous winner of Best Supporting Actor and the second posthumous acting winner ever (the first being Peter Finch for Network). Additionally, Ledger's win marked the first time a superhero-based film had won in any of the major Oscar categories.
A novelization of The Dark Knight was published on July 18, 2008. It is written by comic book writer and editor Dennis O'Neil and expands upon the canon laid out in the film. Some of the additions include a backstory for Harvey Dent, Joker Venom being utilized and a short scene of the Joker contemplating Batman's relationship with Rachel after invading Bruce Wayne's charity event.
At one time there was a video game based around The Dark Knight in development by Pandemic Studios and to be published by EA. Its existence was unofficially confirmed by actor Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) in an interview with G4. He discussed how the developers were trying to get Batman's gliding to feel like a seamless gameplay transition. It was rumored to be an open world experience using the engine that Pandemic had made use of on their previous game The Saboteur.
Despite the speculation, no announcement was ever made. The game was thought to be cancelled after a December 2008 deadline was missed by Pandemic. The studio's office in Brisbane, Australia was shut down in February 2009 and the company fully closed in November 2009. 228 employees were laid off and 35 were absorbed into EA's internal development. Judging from Oldman's description, it is possible the game in question was actually, or at least became, Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was released in 2009.
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|Name||The Dark Knight|
|US Release||July 18, 2008|
|UK Release||July 24, 2008|
|AUS Release||July 16, 2008|
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