Press interviews with the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises began in earnest this past weekend, and one of the first things to emerge from the junket rounds is a connection between Christopher Nolan‘s final Batman film and a classic piece of literature that most of us read in high school.

The link between The Dark Knight Rises and the novel in question isn’t particularly obscure. The social and economic strife that we’ve seen in photos and footage from the film really suggest that Gotham City is about to crumble in the same way that Paris was in the days before the Revolution, as chronicled by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. That connection was quite intentional, as the director and his brother discussed over the weekend.

Christopher Nolan thinks the connection to A Tale of Two Cities is perfect for Batman’s final chapter, but told ComingSoon that he had to go back to the novel before really coming to terms with it:

When Jonah showed me his first draft of his screenplay, it was 400 pages long or something. It had all this crazy stuff in it. As part of a primer when he handed it to me, he said, ‘You’ve got to think of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which, of course, you’ve read.’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I read the script and was a little baffled by a few things and realized that I’d never read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. It was just one of those things that I thought I had done. Then I got it, read it and absolutely loved it and got completely what he was talking about… When I did my draft on the script, it was all about ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

You can commence your intense desire to read that massive Jonah Nolan first draft of the film… now.  Jonathan Nolan elaborates on the connection:

Chris and David started developing the story in 2008 right after the second film came out. Before the recession. Before Occupy Wall Street or any of that. Rather than being influenced by that, I was looking to old good books and good movies. Good literature for inspiration… What I always felt like we needed to do in a third film was, for lack of a better term, go there. All of these films have threatened to turn Gotham inside out and to collapse it on itself. None of them have actually achieved that until this film. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ was, to me, one of the most harrowing portrait of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris in France in that period. It’s hard to imagine that things can go that badly wrong.

So there you go; time to dig out that old dog-eared copy of Dickens’ tome that has been gathering dust ever since that final English exam. You’ve got less than two weeks to tear through the book before The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20.

(And I’d like to take this moment to apologize in advance to all the teachers that are now going to be forced to wade through papers comparing Nolan’s work to Dickens.)

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