Academy Awards 1989 -
Best Art Direction - Set Decoration
Los Angeles Times - 06/23/1989
"...Nicholson keeps things moving higher and higher..."
Tim Burton's BATMAN, inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novel THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, is a Gothic, Wagnerian treatment of the Batman mythos that explains the origins of Batman (Michael Keaton) and his nemesis, the maniacal Joker (a ripe Jack Nicholson).
Gotham City is a sunless, ominous haven for criminals, held in the corrupt grip of crime boss Carl Grissom (the ever-magnetic Jack Palance), and terrorized by a sadistic vandal and murderer known as The Joker. But it isn't long before a dark, mysterious caped crusader, who goes by the name of BATMAN, is on their trail and trying to thwart their evil doings. In this darkly entertaining retelling of the Marvel comic classic, ace photojournalist Vicki Vale (warmly and sympathetically played by Kim Basinger) is also on the trail--she wants to find out who Batman really is. Based on the popular comic book character created by Bob Kane for DC Comics; the story and tone have nothing in common with the popular TV series of the 1960s. Imaginative special effects and imposing, Gothic architectural sets dominate this visually graphic, stylish film. Keaton gives a brooding performance as the Caped Crusader and his interestingly understated alter-ego Bruce Wane. But is it Nicholson's Joker that steals the show, with his unnerving, brilliantly maniacal portrayal, especially in the context of his twisted relationship with Grissom's gal Alicia (a lanky, disquieting Jerry Hall).
In gloomy Gotham City the caped crusader must engage in a battle-to-the-death with the villainous Joker--a madman orchestrating a wave of crime and murder that has paralyzed the town. During the course of the struggle, Batman learns the truth about his own mysterious past, and the role played by the Joker in shaping his life when he was a boy.
Big City |
Character Study |
Comic Book |
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical release: 1989.
It was shot at the Pinewood Studios in England where renowned director Stanley Kubrick shot almost all of his films.
The ad campaign and trailers for BATMAN used no tag lines or clips from the film, but instead merely showed the darkly glowing bat logo on a black background.
The film was based on the DC comics character but was also inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novel THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, which is about a darker, moodier Batman than the traditional character.
BATMAN won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
The film was released in the United States on the character's 50th anniversary.
Actor Robin Williams was reportedly considered for the role of The Joker before it was offered to Jack Nicholson.
This was not the first version of BATMAN put on the silver screen: In 1943, Lambert Hilyer directed a 15-episode serialization of the comic strip, followed in 1948 by Spencer Bennet's BATMAN AND ROBIN serial. In 1966, a film based on the 1960s television series was released featuring the show's stars Adam West and Burt Ward.
In Great Britain, the release of this film required the introduction of a new British Board of Film Classification rating, BBFC 12. This rating indicates that children under the age of twelve are not allowed to see the film, even with parental consent.
Linda Henrikson designed the costumes for Kim Basinger's character; Rick Provenzano was Ms. Basinger's hairdresser; Nick Dudman designed the makeup for the Joker.