I do not question the film's censors over the pencil trick. What I question
is the decision of any parent to take a five-year-old child to this movie.
Our seven-year-old is begging to go, and we said no. The film was appropriately rated, imho. My SO works for Diamond Comics (and the owner actually provided a free showing of this movie for DC staff) and the subject of classification isn't one I'm keen to have with him, because he can pretty well mop the floor with me on comic tropes and history. One can question the superhero classification for Batman itself, because Batman is not a superhero. He has no magical powers. He has trained and equipped himself with what he needs to do what he does, but he can't fly like Superman, or send laser beams out of his eyes or shoot webs. However, he does exist in a superhero setting, so it's an argument that can play out from both sides.
The real question is whether or not it's noir. I saw another comment, from
someone who didn't understand the idea of superhero noir, but if there is
such a thing, in my opinion THE DARK KNIGHT is it.
What follows may or may not constitute spoilers for some people. Read at
your own discretion.
If you look at the deeper themes in the movie, one of the critical aspects
of it is turning the ideas of right and wrong on their heads. Bruce Wayne
is struggling with an alter-ego that he can no longer control. In that
respect, Batman has become more than he intended. Batman is clearly
portrayed within this movie as both hero and villain. The question is
whether two wrongs make a right, and it is pointed out repeatedly that
Batman is, in fact, a criminal. He just commits his crimes against other
criminals, which is why he is tolerated and yes, even needed, but they're
very clear on the fact that he's not simply heroic.
Think of the moment when he says to Alfred that Batman has no limits. This
is exactly what Rachel has concluded - she realizes that even if a day comes
when Gotham doesn't need Batman, Bruce Wayne needs him, and probably won't
be able to let him go. It could be argued that Batman is killing Bruce.
There are other themes about moral issues. Commentary on the war on terror
is prevalent. The cell phone scenario represents wire-tapping and invasion
of privacy. Do we act for the greater good and give up our freedoms in the
process? Look at the choices characters are forced to make - Rachel or
Dent, one boat or the other. The brilliance of the screenwriting is shown
in the fact that there are no easy answers offered. A typical superhero
movie usually has some rallying cry, some moment when good triumphs over
evil. In THE DARK KNIGHT, the victories are overshadowed. The ending was
completely appropriate in my opinion, and I feel it got by test audiences
because it left the door wide open for another movie. It was possible to
stand up and leave with the expectation of more - the same way that the end
of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is not a positive one but it gives viewers the
clear assurance that the story isn't over.
There are many things in the movie that are mirrored, and I consider Bruce
Wayne's inability to comprehend the Joker to be one of them. He couldn't
fathom an adversary that wasn't motivated by money or greed or power. The
Joker had no weakness because he had no motivation that Bruce could
understand. The Joker is purely mad.
However, I think madness lurks at the door for Bruce. His justifications
run the risk of running him in circles and contradicting each other. We're
seeing him cross lines that his closest advisors find repulsive. There is
the possibility his values are shifting, and that with the loss he's
suffered that he's losing sight of what's right, and as I've already said,
he's losing himself to Batman.
Debating whether or not THE DARK KNIGHT is noir could rekindle debates about
what noir is, but from the simplest definitions some hold (dark) to the more
complex definitions, I think TDK qualifies, because my impression is that in
the end of TDK Bruce Wayne has almost died, and may well have died. He's
made choices, he's let go of what Bruce would choose and put Batman first,
and I think the events of TDK have possibly pushed him beyond caring. He's
already lost the most important thing in the world, and now he's willing to
sacrifice truth for what he believes is the greater good, but it's possible
doing so could be his downfall and that the devastation that will follow as
a result will be worse than what would have happened if he'd let Dent take
the fall. I think that depends on whether or not Two-Face is coming back in
the next movie, but if he is, the choices Batman made could not only haunt
him but destroy him, and everything he's worked for that he's used to
justify his choices.
It's hard to look ahead and envision a happy ending for Batman.
Just my 2 cents,
-- WHAT BURNS WITHIN May 08 Dorchester THE FRAILTY OF FLESH Nov 08 Dorchester http://www.sandraruttan.com/
On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 10:42 AM, William <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I was a little dazzled that the "disappearing pencil" trick got past > censors in a film that was guaranteed to attract kids (I saw > 5-year-olds at my showing). > > I think Batman has always been superhero noir. The character's roots > are a mish-mash of gothic novel tropes with a Dick Tracy rogue's > gallery. Then the works that redefined him in the 80s-90s (Dark Knight > Returns, Year One, Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum, The Animated Series) > were all heavily influenced by classic crime fiction and existentialism. > > That's a pretty good noir pedigree if you ask me and Nolan has been > very smart at pulling all this together. > > --- In email@example.com <rara-avis-l%40yahoogroups.com>, > "Nathan Cain" <IndieCrime@...> wrote: > > > > Has anyone else seen The Dark Knight? Would anyone else say it's a > > superhero noir? This was a rather surprising movie, especially for a > > summer blockbuster because of the villain's utter lack of motive > > beyond a desire to cause chaos and because (Spoiler Ahead): > > >
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