Well, what where you expecting? Did you really think Nolan could afford to send the production for Japan for location shooting? Or afford to have a Japanese castle set built? If he had that kind of money, he wouldn’t be shooting this kind of movie.
He asked for a proposal on having a partial Japanese castle set erected, just to see how far the budget he could manage to scrape together would get him there. And, basically, he could have gotten a piece of the outer wall. Full height! But only about two feet wide. They tried to storyboard what a siege scene would look like if you had to shoot it from an extreme angle to fill the whole width of the frame with only two feet of wall. It was…interesting, but not really anything like a spectacular battlescape.
So they went with the alternative the budget far more readily allowed for: blatant exposition, reliably provided by the Professor. And then Nolan was really generous and wasted a whole five bucks on an actual facsimile of an actual Japanese woodblock print depicting and actual castle siege from the actual era the plot is set in. Five bucks doesn’t sound like much, but if you consider that Nolan orginally wanted to go with the placemat from his favorite Chinese restaurant*, which would have been free, it’s quite a concession.
And a point that more internal to the plot: yes, binoculars really are that long. Obviously – after all, how else could you see far-away things up close with their help? That they appear shorter when you look at them from the outside can clearly be nothing else than an optical illusion.
*The placemat has some sort of icon of a pagoda-like structure in one corner, and the rows of text could perhaps look like rows of samurai from a distance, so it really was almost good enough.
More on Thursday.