Warner Bros.' new action adventure The Dark Knightreunites several members of ensemble cast members from 2005's Batman Begins withChristian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The Hollywood actor says he welcomed the opportunity to onceagain inhabit the solitary figure, who in the new film has had to relinquishmuch of his personal identity for the greater good. He offers, "Bruce is certainly sacrificing, both mentally andphysically, as a consequence of Batman whom he has unleashed and now is unableto rein in anymore. More than apersona, he has created a symbol, and that symbol can't have limits. He can't show weakness ever. So you have the conflict between what isgood for Bruce Wayne and what is the right thing for Batman to do, because thetwo of them are not always compatible."
Director Christopher Nolan admits, "Working with Christian is a joy and just a lot of fun. He is a very engaging presence to have onthe set . He also has an intensity about him; he is incredibly focused on tappinginto the psychological reality of whatever character he's playing. He applies the same disciplined approach tofinding the truth of that character and sticks to it. That is a great help to me as a filmmakerbecause I know he is prepared and has a handle on how his character is going tomove through the story. In fact, he hasa lot of the same qualities that Bruce Wayne brings to bear in changing himselffrom an ordinary man into this extraordinary crime-fighting figure."
Christopher adds that although Christian portrays the samecharacter in The Dark Knight that he did in Batman Begins, thetwo films presented the actor with very different challenges.
"On Batman Begins, it was a lot ofphysical effort—he had to get himself in terrific shape and learn all kinds ofskills in terms of the way Batman fights, the way he moves. On this film, I would say it required moreof an internal process because Bruce is realizing the personal toll of livingthis double life and is questioning the choices he's made. Christian conveys that emotional strugglevery convincingly, often without saying a word."
Nevertheless, the role of Batman has an inherentphysicality, so Christian immersed himself in a refresher course on the KeysiFighting Method (KFM) that Batman employs against his enemies. A relatively young martial arts discipline,KFM is an intuitive fighting method with a strong emphasis on mental focus, butthe lead star also had to be in peak physical condition. He trained with Keysi fight coordinatorsAndy Norman and Justo Dieguez for two to three hours every day.
"In KFM, you learn to develop every part ofyour body as a weapon, and it's not easy," relates the director. "We worked Christian extremely hard, and itwas fantastic how quickly he absorbed everything. There was a definite progression in his training since the firstfilm. He understands KFM a lot better,so he was more powerful and his movement was incredible."
"It's a fascinating fighting method," says Christian,"because it uses the adrenaline that everyone feels entering into a threateningor violent situation. It really comesfrom the gut. Rather than the kind ofZen calm that some martial arts call on, KFM is based on animal instinct andhoning those instincts to be lethal, so it's perfect for Batman."
But The Dark Knight is about to confront a singularcriminal called The Joker (played by the late Heath Ledger), who has littleregard for Keysi or any other fighting method. In a fair fight, "Batman would obliterate him," asserts Christian, "butThe Joker doesn't fight fair. He hasother tricks up his sleeve, so it's more of a mind game. But he finds in Batman a very worthyopponent, and I think he enjoys that.
"The Joker is somebody without any rules whatsoever," hecontinues. "How do you fight somebodywho is bent on destruction, even if it means self-destruction? That's a formidable foe."
The actor goes on to say that The Joker'stotal lack of morality is one of his most potent weapons in his war with Batmanbecause, conversely, "Batman has a very strict moral code for what he will andwon't do, and The Joker can use that to his advantage. Batman still has this huge reserve of angerand pain and knows he could easily go too far, so he must not cross thatline. He has to be sure that in chasinga monster, he doesn't become a monster himself."
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, July 17, TheDark Knight will be distributed worldwide in theatres and IMAX by WarnerBros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.