Watch: ‘The Dark Knight’: Mapping Out the Action

Watch: ‘The Dark Knight’: Mapping Out the Action

As complex and, in a sense, limitless as Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight‘ might be, with its heady urbane mood, its panic-inducing sense of foreboding, and the presence of Heath Ledger in the role that may have driven him over the edge, there is also a pre-ordained quality to it that slows one down. You wouldn’t necessarily be curious where its characters go after they step off-screen; you wouldn’t wonder what they’re thinking; you probably wouldn’t speculate on their past lives. The world of the film is laid out within the limits of the screen. This partially due to the film’s previous life as a comic, a work in a form in which frame after frame after frame sends a louder and louder message: Look in here. Don’t look out there. All of the information you need is right here. Because the comic upon which this film is based is better than average, the film itself is superior; other films based around frames, not always so much. This brief but densely packed piece by "Glass Distortion" places the storyboards for ‘The Dark Knight’ up against the actual film for an examination of an especially fraught chase scene, a move which reminds us how carefully the film was deliberated. It’s hard to say if the film’s over-planning works in its favor, or if it’s merely a horse for the director to hang good performances on. Whatever the case, this 49-second piece will give you a unique and revitalizing look at the way movies can be made.

Watch: For Christopher Nolan, Hands Are a Locus of Power

Watch: For Christopher Nolan, Hands Are a Locus of Power

In the work of Christopher Nolan, hands shape the world, reclaim it, destroy it, ameliorate it, keep in order, drive it to a state of chaos, hold it back, steer us through. And in so being, how is Nolan’s work any different from any other filmmaker, you ask? It’s that Nolan gently nudges us with the idea of the hands’ supremacy. For a director who at times seems to be bursting with florid bombast, he also relishes in quiet moments, so much so that a detail like recurring use of hand close-ups might be the last thing you would notice and yet, simultaneously, the most important thing of all. This video essay by Jorge Luengo moves us through Nolan’s filmography, drawing our attention to the quiet primacy these appendages can obtain.

Watch: For Christopher Nolan, The Image Comes First, Then the Film

Watch: For Christopher Nolan, The Image Comes First, Then the Film

To say that Christopher Nolan’s films emphasize the importance of the image is not a tautology. Some filmmakers might take us on a thrill ride, filled with jumpcuts, closeups, and other visual grace notes that cause us to focus on action or plot events more than the images moving across the screen. Nolan, though, wants viewers to linger. Think of these things: Robin Williams running across logs in the water in ‘Insomnia.’ Heath Ledger’s Joker standing at a corner, head down, mask in hand, facing us as Ledger faces away in ‘The Dark Knight.’ The collapsing landscapes and cityscapes in ‘Inception’–any of them. The beauty of these moments is that they move you through the film but they also hold you in place. This excellent new Art of the Film video essay casts a new light on an extremelywell-covered director, but one from whom attention may not diverge for a long, long time.

Watch: How Did Batman’s Gotham City Develop?

Watch: How Did Batman’s Gotham City Develop?

In his latest video essay, Evan Puschak, aka "NerdWriter," has taken on a potentially unwieldy subject: Gotham City. When we casually refer to "Gotham," we tend to mean a whole world of things, all centering around the crucial idea of urban corruption through political machinery. As Puschak indicates, though, the concept of Gotham City has gone through many changes from its earliest days in the Batman comic books to its re-imaginings in the hands of Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and the Fox Network, and at this point, if we say that Gotham City is itself a living, breathing character, we’re not necessarily spouting a cliche; the city Puschak describes here has drawn the imaginations of many for decades, and will probably continue to grow as films, books, and television shows proliferate. We just can’t get enough of it.