Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who is this Batman you speak of?

Gary Oldman

Last night I watched Gary Oldman on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I knew I'd be in for a great time, as he is an engaging and very funny individual. It's nice to see such an accomplished actor have some fun and for Gary, it seems very natural. He was introduced during Kimmel's monologue in which he read an excerpt from R. Kelly's new book (a masterpiece, I'm sure); Oldman put as much effort into his role as narrator of this text as he would have if he were performing in one of Shakespeare's tragedies.

As for the interview with Kimmel, Oldman was there to talk about his new film, The Dark Knight Rises, in which he portrays Commissioner Gordon. This is the latest effort in the hugely successful Batman series, directed with great flair and gusto by Christopher Nolan.

The best part of Oldman's interview was his story about the script. He related the story of the first time he saw it; he received a phone call at his home in England from a studio representative, just to make sure he was home. Then when the rep showed up at his door, Oldman recalled that he was given the script much in the manner of being served a summons to appear in court.

He also recalled an incident in Pittsburgh, where part of the filming took place. He said that he forgot where he put the script in his hotel room and had a cold sweat for about thirty minutes until he could finally locate it. He mentioned that each copy of the script has a serial number as well as a personal watermark. He added that the script is on red paper, so it can't be copied.

Oldman then mentioned that the same thing was done for the Harry Potter script. He got off the best line of the night, when he wondered why these precautions were put in place for a Harry Potter screenplay. "Everyone's read the book!"

This got me to thinking about the attention paid by the studio about the latest Batman script. This is obviously a huge production and the writers certainly don't want anyone stealing it. Given all the hackers and mischievous characters out there, I can't say I blame them. If the script was stolen, anyone could post the thing on a website; there's enough intellectual property that is out there in the public domain and I certainly sympathize to some degree with writers, composers and others about this situation.

But really, this is a script for a Batman movie. No offense to Nolan and the others that developed the story and screenplay, but people are going to see this film for its action scenes, pure and simple. This isn't Chinatown or Wall Street, movies that had a beautifully crafted screenplay at their core, this is a film where the movement on the screen, the costumes, sets, photography and editing are what will excite people. That's not to say there won't be some good lines in there - in fact, I'm sure this will be a clever script, but come on.

I wonder what independent filmmakers who write their own scripts think about the seriousness of protecting a script such as this. The mind boggles.

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