Production designer Barbara Ling created nearly 60 sets for BATMAN FOREVER, assisted by a talented staff of set designers, illustrators, model makers and computer graphics artists. While there are respectful nods in the design of the new Gotham City to the marvelous work done by Anton Furst for BATMAN and Bo Welch for BATMAN RETURNS, Ling and Joel Schumacher decided from day one to avoid any deliberate sense of deja-vu in their version of the legend. Everything - from the Batcave to the Batmobile - would be different.
"I'm a very big fan of Anton's and Bo's work," says Ling, "but I think it's exciting to use new people and ideas on everything you do. The Batman comics do not reflect any one thing. What's kept them alive, I think, is that with each illustrator and each new art director, it all changes. It's always exciting and different."
"When I first approached the design of Gotham," says Ling, "my mind always went to the World's Fair idea of buildings and statues being so overscaled that man is stunted. Gotham City is designed to be three times the height of New York, with everything on a monumental level. We examined lots of photos and films of the great World's Fairs of the '20s, '30s and '40s, which were filled with tiny people staring in awe at tremendous buildings."
Lighting would become one of the most important elements of the film, as Schumacher, cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt and Ling developed a rich, lustrous and utterly unique look for the film that called upon the most recent technical developments to capture a heightened comic-book spirit.
"Joel and I agreed that we wanted to make everything we could seem comic-book, without exception," says Goldblatt. "So there's almost nothing that I can think of in this film that's of a really ordinary nature."
Schumacher's order of the day - every day - was to push the boundaries of what had been seen before, striving for visuals and storytelling that would dazzle and delight. His willingness to try just about anything promoted a good-natured repartee throughout production with camera operator RAY DE LA MOTTE. Following one of Schumacher's suggestions for a typically unorthodox shot, de la Motte asked (tongue firmly in cheek), "Isn't that a bit over-the-top?"
Schumacher's reply: "Well, Ray, nobody pays eight bucks for under-the top!"