"The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan gave a deep dissection of his single favorite scene in the movie, the intense interrogation sequence. Here are the shots from that scene with Nolan’s description of how things went behind the scenes:
"The scene starts between Gary Oldman and Heath with the lights out, and [director of photography] Wally Pfister literally just lit the scene with the desk lamp, the table lamp, and nothing else."
"And then when the lights come on, Batman is revealed, and the rest of the scene plays out with a massive overexposure."
The scene was of the utmost importance in the movie and they had decided on Heath Ledger’s insistence to tackle it earlier in the filming routine:
"On the set, we shot it fairly early on. It was actually one of the first things that Heath had to do as the Joker. He told me he was actually pretty excited to tear off a big chunk early on, really get one of the Joker’s key scenes up in the first three weeks of a seven-month shoot. He and I both liked the idea of just diving in, as did Christian."
The Joker does an impressive job of getting under Batman’s skin.
Then the Joker does a little more than getting under the superhero’s skin.
And Batman loses it.
"Neither of them wanted to go too far with it in rehearsal. They had to rehearse some of the fight choreography, but even with that, we tried to keep it loose and improvisational. They wanted to save it all."
"Then there’s a point where it spills over into real physicality and he drags the Joker across the table. We go handheld at that point and shot the rest of the scene with handheld to be very spontaneous in its movement."
Here’s how Nolan recounted the end of the sequence: "Originally, at the end of that scene, once the Joker reveals his information, Christian dropped him and then, almost as an afterthought, he kicked him in the head as he walked out of the room. We wound up removing that bit. It seemed a little too petulant for Batman in a way. And really, more than that, what it was is that I liked how Christian played it: When he drops the Joker, he has realized the futility of what he’s done. You see it in his eyes. How do you fight someone who thrives on conflict? It’s a very loose end to be left with."
Brilliant isn’t it? The intensity and reality of the aggressive relation of the Joker and Batman after all these years lingers and one can feel it in the bones while revisiting the shots from the iconic scene.