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Christopher Nolan: 'Dark Knight Rises' Isn’t Political

Despite echoes of Occupy Wall Street in finale of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, director argues he has no particular message

July 20, 2012 10:00 AM ET
christopher nolan
Christopher Nolan attends the European premiere of 'Dark Knight Rises' at Odeon Leicester Square in London.
Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

In the new issue of Rolling Stone on newsstands today, Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan denies that his film is intended to convey an anti-Occupy Wall Street message – and insists that none of his Batman films are intended to be political.  Here's an excerpt from Brian Hiatt's interview with the filmmaker.

In the new movie, you have Bane more or less trick Gotham's 99 percent into rising up against the rich – is that intended as an anti-Occupy Wall Street statement?
I've had as many conversations with people who have seen the film the other way round. We throw a lot of things against the wall to see if it sticks. We put a lot of interesting questions in the air, but that's simply a backdrop for the story. What we're really trying to do is show the cracks of society, show the conflicts that somebody would try to wedge open. We're going to get wildly different interpretations of what the film is supporting and not supporting, but it's not doing any of those things. It's just telling a story. If you're saying, “Have you made a film that's supposed to be criticizing the Occupy Wall Street movement?” – well, obviously, that's not true.

But the movie certainly suggests that there's a great danger of populist movements being pushed too far.
If the populist movement is manipulated by somebody who is evil, that surely is a criticism of the evil person. You could also say the conditions the evil person is exploiting are problematic and should be addressed.

You must have your own opinions on all this.
Oh, I've got all sorts of opinions, but this isn't what we're doing here. I love when people get interested in the politics of it, when they see something in it that moves them in some way. But I'm not being disingenuous when I say that we write from a place of “What's the worst thing our villain Bane can do? What are we most afraid of?” He's going to come in and turn our world upside down. That has happened to other societies throughout history, many times, so why not here? Why not Gotham? We want something that moves people and gets under the skin.

Some people would say, inherently, from the beginning, that Batman is a right-wing character, who establishes law and order by pummeling criminals with his fists.
Yes, if you assume Gotham is the same as a place like New York City, but that's not the case. The corruption that drives Bruce Wayne to become Batman is very extreme. So, you know, your concept of “Does the end justify the means?” shifts according to the backdrop. And so the challenge of Batman Begins was to make us OK with the idea of vigilantism. The films genuinely aren't intended to be political. You don't want to alienate people, you want to create a universal story.

A lot of people would argue that all art is political.
But what's politics?

So would Bruce Wayne vote for Mitt Romney?
Before or after Bruce goes broke?

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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