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THE DARK KNIGHT

Continuing The Story
"Continuing Batman's story, we felt it was very important to get outside and view Gotham as a major world city.” - Christopher Nolan

With "The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan sought to expand the world of Batman in a literal sense by moving the action from the confines of a soundstage to the expanse of practical locations. "We were looking for ways to expand the scope of this film, so I was determined to take the location filming much further than what we did on ‘Batman Begins,'” the director says. "The real world is built on a scale you could never reproduce in the studio.”

As it had in "Batman Begins,” the city of Chicago once again became Gotham City. "I spent some time growing up in Chicago,” Nolan offers, "so it's a city I know and love. It is famous for its architecture and it is also a very film-friendly city. We shot there for weeks on ‘Batman Begins,' but this time we were going to be there for months and the help and encouragement we got from the city was extraordinary.”

Chuck Roven confirms, "I can't say enough about Mayor Daley, the Chicago Film Office and, most importantly, the citizens of Chicago, who could not have been more excited or more welcoming to us. They gave us total cooperation and allowed us to do some unbelievable things on their streets, and we appreciated and always tried to respect that privilege.”

Inarguably, the most incredible thing the city allowed the production to do was unprecedented: flipping a 40-foot tractor-trailer, end over end, right in the heart of the city's banking district on LaSalle Street. When Chris Corbould saw the truck flip described in the script, he admits, "I tried to make compromises with Chris—like maybe the whole truck doesn't go over or maybe we could use a smaller truck—but he wasn't having any of it.”

Nolan responds, "Finally I turned to him one day and said, ‘Chris, it really ought to be an 18-wheeler. And I know you can find a way to do this because that's just who you are and that's what you do.'”

The first order of business was to make sure the stunt was even possible. "After about six weeks of calculations, we were ready to do an actual test,” Corbould recalls. "We went out to an open space, got the truck up to speed and pressed the button, and it just sailed over. I had to go to Chris Nolan and tell him it worked perfectly.”

Nevertheless, the filmmakers were aware that there was a vast difference between flipping a truck in the middle of nowhere and doing it in the middle of a city street. Before they could carry out the stunt, city engineers were called in to make sure that the tons of force necessary to send the truck end over end would not damage the infrastructure of LaSalle Street, including the various utility lines that run beneath it. Once safe parameters were determined, the production was given the green light.

When the night of the stunt came, the truck flip went like clockwork, earning applause from the assembled cast and crew. "It was an impressive thing to watch this truck fly over and land precisely where Chris said it was going to land,” Nolan remarks. "At the top of its arc, it looked almost like a skyscraper standing there, and then it just continued going over very gracefully. I've never seen anything like it.”

The film's most explosive sequence involved the implosion of an entire building, which was staged at the now-vacant Brach's Candy factory building. Corbould and his crew teamed with the company Controlled Demolition, Inc., headed by Doug Loizeaux, to create the explosion. Corbould offers, "Chris didn't want the building to go down like a deck of cards, like a conventional demolition. I worked with Doug, who came up with a system to make the building go down more like a wave, in sequence. Then we added our special effects elements to make it more spectacular.”

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