Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The Dark Knight

From: Sandra Ruttan (
Date: 23 Jul 2008

  • Next message: Steve Novak: "RARA-AVIS: Noir SH?"

    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, Sandra

    WHAT BURNS WITHIN May 08 Dorchester
    THE FRAILTY OF FLESH Nov 08 Dorchester

    On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 10:42 AM, William <> 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 <>, > "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): > > >

    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 23 Jul 2008 EDT