Mehrangarh: Maverick filmmaker Christopher Nolan says The Dark Knight Rises is the biggest story he has ever told. And filling an arid expanse of his vast canvas is India‘s spectacularly desolate Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur. A year ago, Nolan shot a prison scene here that features among the opening scenes of the finale to his epic Batman trilogy.
Actor Christian Bale, Josh Pence and Nolan were in Jodhpur during the summer of 2011 shooting inside the Mehrangarh Fort for a couple of days. Pence plays young Ra’s al Ghul which in Arabic means ‘Demon’s Head’. He is one of Batman’s deadliest enemies.
The imposing fort is situated 400 feet above Jodhpur and overlooks the city with palaces and courtyards dotting the inside of the fort. This was the first leg of the shooting. Hollywood has increasingly sought India’s widely varying landscape as setting for its epic adventures. It chose India as the setting for The Avengers.
Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk is shown hiding out in what is supposedly a slum in erstwhile Calcutta in what is now seen as history’s biggest hit superhero action movie. The Calcutta scene was shot in New Mexico. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a retirement haven for British pensioners, was shot in Jaipur.
In an interview Nolan said the locals at Mehrangarh thought the team “was nuts shooting in 120-degree (Fahrenheit) heat.”
The film is the last in a celebrated trilogy that elevated comic-book movies to operatic proportion. It has the weight and scope – and then some – of 2008’s ‘The Dark Knight,’ the ‘Batman Begins’ sequel whose snub in the best-picture field helped prod the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to expand the category to more than five nominees.
Nolan, one of modern Hollywood’s true innovators, has given a film that is gorgeous, sharply written, briskly paced despite an epic running time approaching three hours. The characters have depth and pathos, and the drama feels far richer than the usual hero-saving-the-world saga. The action reflects our own hard times as a masked terrorist lays siege to the masses in a sort of perverse Occupy Gotham City movement that pits the comic-book world’s 99 percenters against the rich and rapacious.