I told anyone who would listen that I was going to enjoy The Dark Knight on opening night, July 18. It was the highlight of a back-to-back week of meetings and “I’m awake, I’m awake, I’m awake.” My boy bought the tickets one week ahead of time but somehow managed to secure seats in the very BACK of the theater. No matter, I thought, I can still see the entire screen and everyone knows that too close up is much worse than too far back. It wasn’t until during the previews, which were pretty interesting, that I realized I couldn’t hear the characters speak on-screen if the action was too loud in the background because we were sitting directly below the surround sound speakers. But, like a good friend, I resisted the urge to choke my boy who’d picked the seats. After all, it was admirable of him to purchase the tickets and stand in line for the seats, etc. **SPOILER ALERT: I’m discussing actual scenes in The Dark Knight so if you haven’t seen it yet, and don’t want to know- stop reading now**
Now, onto the actual film. This is one time that YouTube almost ruined my much anticipated viewing pleasure. Why? Because I saw a bootleg cut of the film’s opening scene on the ‘Tube in like February. Lol…Curiosity got me, I admit it, so I was a bit bored during that scene. But the robbery was just the introduction to Ledger’s full glory as the Joker. In addition to his really scary looking make-up, Ledger’s portrayl gave the comic book character a desperation mixed with reckless abandonment that was pure joy and a bit too realistic. I really believed that no. 1) dude was CRAZY, no. 2) maybe I didn’t want the Joker to lose and no. 3) what does this depiction/twisting of good and evil mean about life in 2008? I took it to mean we’re a pretty cynical bunch.
Instead of the greed which 1989’s Batman really played up (by dumping thousands of dollars on Gotham-ites while gassing them with Prince songs and green smoke during that parade), The Dark Knight grappled with humanity’s tenuous relationship with hope. Hope that life can be better, hope that our world/city can be better, which lends itself to real world’s issues like will the economy get better and will wars like Operation Freedom (are we still calling it that?) ever end, or are we just trying to beat out the other boat before they blow us up first?
In the scene where the Joker was hanging upside down, awaiting the trapped people on the boats to blow each other up for fear they might end up dead first, it reminded me of a lot of things, namely the world’s continuous collection of weapons. Not that I’m going Rodney King (“why can’t we all get along?”), I just think it’s an interesting comparison. Think about it, what’s the last nuclear explosion the world’s suffered and I’m not talking about bombs that people carry on their person and destroy grocery stores in the Middle East. I’m talking about carnage on the level of Hiroshima. I can’t think of anything, (please correct me if I’m wrong) yet the world’s countries with enough money keep stock-piling. Like the people on the boats, it’s the uncertainty that forces you to kill the other person, not necessarily anything that the other person’s actually done. I am now stepping off of my hippie soap box.
I also thought the transition of Two-face was interesting. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how he journeyed from perfectly handsome Harvey Dent to gruesome Two-Face. But when he was tied up in the gas barrel-filled room, it hit me. Here we go with this hope theme again. Batman has a choice to either save his own salvation, Maggie Gynlenhall’s character, Rachel, or save Gotham’s salvation (or so he thought), Harvey Dent. Either way, Batman lost. If Rachel died, he lost the love of his life. If Dent died, then Gotham lost the last shred of hope that their sordid city could be wonderful again. Back to the scene where the Joker’s hanging from the building awaiting the boat explosions, I thought to myself, he was an amazingly intelligent villan. He attacked people’s hopes rather than any one person specifically and that’s so much more terrifying because the loss of hope can kill a person while he or she is still breathing.
The Dent/Two-Face cover up was also interesting. The Commissioner and Batman decide to blame Two-Face’s vigilante justice on Batty even though he’s only been trying to save crazy Gotham for the last 2 1/2 hours. But isn’t that the way of the public sector in most cities? When something wildly unjust happens, people want to see justice even if it’s not accurate or even makes sense. It’s all about closure and blame, that’s why black folks in NYC are still so upset about the Sean Bell verdict. It just doesn’t seem like enough justice. ANYWAY…
Do you think Batman should have saved Rachel or Harvey? Did you think the film was about hope or something else? Do you think Ledger was a better Joker than Jack Nicholson’s OG turn in 1989?
Steely D’s fan-out moments:
When Batman flips over the 18 wheeler that the Joker is driving like a crazed maniac and flips his own motorcycle over like a transformer. Awesome.
When Christian Bale snubs Dent, crashes his romantic dinner with Rachel (in the restaurant Batman owns) and sons him by throwing him a fundraiser. Then he arrives to the fundraiser in his own apt late, in a helicopter with three models in tow. Ha!
The Joker appearing in Dent’s hospital room in a nurse outfit, talks off the wig and says “hi” as flatly as a crazy person can.
The Joker walking awkwardly out of the hospital as he blows up every wing in the building and eventually levels the whole thing.
Why so serious?
The Joker busting into the underworld meeting with a jacket full of grenades.
The Scarecrow showing up period. Cillian Murphy rocks.
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