Christopher Nolan has always been known to be a fan of Michael Mann’s work. One such work of his that really inspired Nolan’s masterpiece ‘The Dark Knight’ is the 1995 crime-drama Heat. The idea of creating the ultimate protagonist and the ultimate antagonist who are both extremely opposite yet possess a certain defining similar characteristic comes from Heat.
Take some time and think about it. The Batman and the Joker. Beneath all the nobility of The Batman and the viciousness and madness of The Joker, there is one defining similar quality that makes them extremists, a characteristic that separates each from the rest of society. This has been originated from Heat. Al Pacino, a detective in the hunt for Robert De Niro, a thief. A storyline that’s built on the most basic foundation of cop chase thief yet the movie is a masterpiece for the very reason as to how Pacino’s and De Niro’s characters are defined.
Nolan in an interview with director Michael Mann, De Niro and Pacino questioned about what went into the making of the famous coffee shop scene which happens to be the first time the protagonist and antagonist sit down and meet for a cup of coffee in the movie. Mann then surprised us telling how he kept doing takes despite knowing some were good, realizing there were some tiny elements that he knew would come off naturally by the characters in each take. He explained how during the shooting of the scene, De Niro and Pacino were so involved with their characters, that if either one of them did some movement during a scene, the other would automatically do a counteracting movement. Heat has to be Mann’s best work, shot so stylistic and natural at the same time.
Here’s a video by The Glass Distortion proving how from composition to certain scenes, The Dark Knight was actually inspired by the movie Heat.
Fun Fact: Heat is actually a very special movie. For the first time in their acting careers, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were going to be in the same frame. The crew recalls how Mann had so brilliantly placed the shooting of the scene right in the middle of production. They were all so thrilled thinking it was going to be an ultimate showdown but to their disbelief, the historic scene with both the legendary actors turned out to be just over a cup of coffee!