It's rare that you come across a film that accurately documents the transformative power of modern mythology. It's even more rare to find a film whose touch can extend beyond the edges of the screen and can make an impact on the lives of people in the real world. Legends of the Knight is that kind of film.
Director Brett Culp embarked on a three year journey documenting the impact of Batman in the lives of real people and how that impact went on to inspire individuals to be even greater than they ever could imagine. In his feature film debut, Culp crafts a documentary with an unbelievable amount of truthfulness and sincerity. Culp's background as a wedding videographer masterfully complements his ability to capture the honesty and beauty in everyday people.
Culp's passion for the character of Batman and for making a difference in the community is evident from the first frame of his film and the first words that he speaks. Culp has conducted over 90 screenings of his documentary and through the Rising Heroes Project, these showings have raised money for over 60 charities including the Boys & Girls Club, Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House, the Special Olympics and so many more.
The Point of Geeks was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to Culp about his film Legends of the Knight and the power of Batman.
The cinematography of Legends of the Knight is gorgeous. Whether it is footage of a child running into the sunshine in a Batman costume or watching an artist create the next interpretation of Batman, there is a beating pulse behind all of the camera work. When asked how the project evolved into it's final form Culp explains:
[The film] started going from something that was more academic to something that had more heart. I guess that's where my background as a wedding filmmaker comes in. Capturing those moments of heart really comes from that background.
Culp nails what separates his documentary from the other fluff pieces out there. Culp has an innate ability to capture the true inner-emotion of his subjects. Whether the camera is focused on legendary writer Denny O'Neil or an everyday person struggling with their disabilities, he is able to capture the inner joy and love for the character of Batman, that has inspired so many people in so many different walks of life.
Clearly the love of the character bleeds out of every frame of the movie. We were interested in knowing when Culp first felt a personal connection to Caped Crusader.
I have always had a relationship with Batman. It's like what (was said in the film), "I don't remember my very first memory of the sky, it was always just there." I can remember having a Batman birthday party as a child. I guess I would have to say one of my first memories was of Superfriends. Then reruns of the 1960's TV show...When I was thirteen the '89 Batman movie came out and it really took a hold of me in another way. I began buying Danny Elfman soundtracks and really getting absorbed. That led to me making my own stop-motion movies... Then eventually the Justice League, I guess from Superfriends. I really enjoyed seeing all the interpretations.
The movie is jam-packed with personal stories of people who were impacted by Batman. Culp managed to fill his film with subjects who were inspired by the character to get out and do even greater good then they thought was possible, in their own lives and communities. His interview subjects range from Batman movie producer Michael Uslan, to a courageous woman with muscular dystrophy, who are equally motivated by the spirit of the Dark Knight. How Culp's journey began was actually rather simple, he explains:
So I started off initially by Googling "inspired by Batman." And I begun to come across blogs and writings of people who had been touched by Batman. Once I got about four solid ones, I knew I was on to something...Before I knew it, we had more stories then we could include, so unfortunately we couldn't include many of them. We had more than 200 stories! We had the trailer before we were finished. The response to the trailer, a year and a half ago, showed me that we were really on to something.
It is almost like the spirit of Batman helped to bring the production together. While watching the movie, you can see the tangible evidence of the lives that were improved by what is now considered, one of the lead icons of our modern mythology.
There are numerous fictional heroes in today's society that people look up to. But there is something about the character of Batman that has seemed to tap into a part of our popular subconscious. Culp manages to put his finger on why the character manages to endure throughout the ages, while others fall to the wayside
I think the thing about Batman is that he is transcendent in a way that other fictional characters aren't. I can show my kids the Brave and the Bold. Then run around and play with them. And they can be introduced that way. While a thirty year old man can enjoy Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight on a different level for its political and social intricacies. That is what makes the character so special in a way others can't be. Sherlock Holmes doesn't speak to kids the same way as he does to adults.
Legends of the Knight really tackles the transcendent nature of the Caped Crusader in ways that have rarely been filmed before. Throughout the film, Culp includes shots of children dressed up as Batman playing in the park. To these kids, they are truly saving the world. It exemplifies the notion that putting on the cape and cowl to protect others is something in all of us. It also shows that at whatever developmental stage we are at, Batman's mission still speaks to us all. These shots are frequently juxtaposed with adults personal tales of adversity and triumph. It is a visual reminder of how we have an innate need to be heroic, not only for ourselves but for the world around us.
Culp is a huge fan of the character and he talked briefly about the next incarnation of the Caped Crusader to hit the big-screen in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I don't really know what to expect to from the upcoming Zack Snyder films, but I know that it is going to be something great. I will say I don't really like the new interpretation of Superman as much. It seems they are trying to make him a little more "Batman"..I do think that Ben Affleck will be great. I think they have something specific in mind for the role and that is the reason he was cast...However, I'm always optimistic when it comes to the character of Batman...
You are not alone Mr. Culp... There truly is something about the character that has the potential to bring the best out of all of us.
Legends of the Knight doesn't simply explore the impact of Batman in popular culture. Legends of the Knight explores the impact of Batman in our hearts and communities. This is not only must-see viewing for fans of the character, but a must-see documentary for anyone who has faced insurmountable odds and attacked them head on. People question if the current comic book craze will ever die down. It probably will. However, this film proves that the legend of Batman will continue to live on in our mythology and will continue to inspire lives forever.
Source: Point of Geeks