In anticipation of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises the finale of his Batman trilogy, my chosen iconic Film Location this time round is from the film that started it all – Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Superhero masterpiece Batman Begins.
As well as locations in Hertfordshire where Christopher Nolan went to school, Nolan has a fondness for London locations that he knows and likes. Having spent time in London studying at both the University College London and Raindance Film School. Nolan knows his way around London and certainly has favourite locations that he re-uses in a number of his films.
After training with his mentor, Batman begins his war on crime to free the crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption that the Scarecrow and the League of Shadows have cast upon it.
Bob Kane, David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman
|Christopher Nolan Batman Begins Film Poster (ZOOM)|
Back in 2005 Christopher Nolan was on the cusp of greatness making his first mega hit Batman Begins. Batman Begins not only heralded in a new age of Super Hero films by staying true to the spirit of the dark and complex comic character, it also paved the way for franchises to reboot in an intelligent way without marginalising fans as well as cementing Nolan’s bankability and blockbuster status.
Batman Begins was shot over 3 countries; Iceland, USA and United Kingdom under the name The Intimidation Game or TIG to minimise attention being drawn to the production. It did reasonably well at the box office but more importantly it was the first super hero film to garner as much critical acclaim across audiences, industry and critics alike.
The Backup scene
A memorable and favourite scene from Batman Begins is the “Backup” scene. Where Batman (Christian Bale) is trapped in Arkham Asylum along with a heavily drugged Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) on one of the higher levels.
The Batman Begins screenplay was created by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer based on a story by David S. Goyer. Whilst it has been cited that the Batman Begins storyline was influenced by; The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One, and Batman: The Long Halloween comics. The Backup scene is almost lifted frame for frame, from issue 3 of Frank Miller, and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One.
The Backup scene is visually stunning and Nolan takes what should be a completely ridiculous and un-filmable scenario and makes it seem plausible. At the same time lifting the Batman character to larger than life proportions. The setting of the scene lends a Gothic and magnificently dark tone to Arkham Asylum.
Gordon tries the elevator- it is dead. He enters the STAIRS.
180 INT. LOBBY, ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 180
The SWAT team BURSTS in- FLASHLIGHTS on RIFLES SCAN the
Arkham is surrounded by the Gotham Police Department who are waiting for the heavily armed S.W.A.T. team to arrive. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) enters the building alone and we see him move along a corridor, turn left and find a grand staircase leading up. Suddenly Batman catapults down the stairwell and lifts Gordon up in his cape.
Around this time S.W.A.T. enter the building moving quickly along the same corridor and start heading up the staircase.
|Batman Begins Arkham Asylum S.W.A.T. Stairwell Location St Pancras Chambers Kings Cross (ZOOM)|
Gordon locks down the stairwell- the way down to the disused
wing is fenced off. He heads up- and is GRABBED and SWUNG
OUT into the stairwell. Batman holds him as they ROCKET
Batman covers Gordon’s mouth- down below: the door SMASHES
OPEN- SWAT team lights CROSS the darkened stairwell. Batman
PULLS Gordon into the rafters. Gordon turns, FURIOUS- sees:
Rachel. Lying in a storage space/open attic. Twitching:
What’s happened to her?
Crane poisoned her with his toxin.
He was the third man at the docks.
Let me take her down to the medics
They can’t help her. But I can.
THE LIGHTS COME ON- bleaching the stairwell- Batman, Rachel
and Gordon are in the shadow of the attic.
Batman reaches down to his boot. Presses a SWITCH in the
heel, producing a barely audible HIGH-FREQUENCY WHINE.
I need to get her the antidote
before the damage becomes
How long does she have?
182 EXT. ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 182
A strange SQUEALING SOUND rises. Flass looks around,
curious. A dark CLOUD crosses the moon... not a regular
183 INT. STAIRWELL, ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 183
Get her downstairs, meet me in the
alley on the Narrows side.
How will you get out?
(indicates his boot)
I called for backup. Crane’s been
refining his toxin, stockpiling it.
What was he planning?
I don’t know, but he’s been working
for someone else.
Gordon frowns at the loud SQUEALING noise.
What is that?
184 EXT. ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 184
Flass SCREAMS- Cops DIVE for cover as BATS- thousands upon
thousands- DESCEND on the Asylum, HEADING for the windows-
185 INT. CORRIDOR, ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 185
Windows SHATTER INWARDS as bats POUR into the building-
186 EXT. ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 186
Gordon covers Rachel as he carries her down the steps.
187 INT. ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 187
Bats FLOOD into the bright stairwell, SOARING UP past the
cowering SWATS, a BLACK MASS RISING, DARKENING the
Batman amidst the bats. Calm. Pulls the sounder out of his
heel, leans over the stairwell and DROPS it...
Bats CYCLONE down the stairwell, FOLLOWING the signal.
Batman JUMPS into the center of the black cyclone- HIDDEN
188 INT. CORRIDOR, ARKHAM ASYLUM -- CONTINUOUS 188
Batman OPENS his cloak with a JOLT- lands HARD. He moves
calmly through the bats, slipping past COWERING SWATS,
moving past cell doors. Inmates STARE, wide-eyed out their
windows as he passes. Batman turns to a cell door, pulls a
small package out of his utility belt...
Forcing Batman into activating a sensor in his boot which sends an ultrasonic tone out designed to attract bats. And when they arrive they arrive en mass and swarm in causing chaos. Using the bats as cover Batman glides down the stairwell distracting S.W.A.T allowing Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to escape with Dawes.
|Batman Begins Backup Arkham Asylum Scene St Pancras Chambers Kings Cross (ZOOM)|
|Batman Begins Christopher Nolan tests the Backup Bat flying mechanism Arkham Asylum Stairwell Location St Pancras Chambers Kings Cross (ZOOM)|
The St Pancras Chambers are a grand Victorian and iconic architectural landmark which escaped demolition in the 80s to make a comeback this year after a £200m makeover as part of the new St. Pancras Renaissance Marriott Hotel.
The St Pancras Chambers have also been used in other films such as; The Colin Firth starrer - Trauma, The Secret Garden, Richard III, Chaplin and in 1989 The Midland Hotel was used in another Batman film. For Tim Buron’s Batman a room in the hotel was used to double as a Gotham Globe newsroom.
St Pancras Chambers, St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR, London
The Establishing Shot: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN'S BATMAN BEGINS "BACKUP" ARKHAM ASYLUM STAIRWELL FILM LOCATION - FILM LOCATION
|Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.|
When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, mentally storyboards the greatest film ever made & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime.
A list of his 133 favourite films can be found here! If you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: