Like mas movies are bout story telling and in great stories like great mas mas there are many layers too what your looking at. It is those layers and the meanings within them both seen and unseen that make the great movies , great narratives and in mas great mas presentations.
|The Dark Knight Rises |
(Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity
and Live Music Photographer)
In The Dark Knight series, an elected official suggests that the city intends to arrest Batman. A female cop watching the television turns to a middle-aged detective and says something like, “The man says you’re closing in on the Batman.” The detective says that they’ve got some suspects, balls up a piece of paper and throws the wad up against a bulletin board which has photos of Elvis Presley, Bigfoot, and Abraham Lincoln. They are the political messages of the series in a nutshell:
1. Elvis: Fame is powerful, useful and destructive. Mortal men can become immortal symbols, but they still remain mortal in reality.
2. Bigfoot: Man is also a beast. He walks on two legs, but is he really different than an animal?
3. Lincoln: Sometimes you have to lie, break the law and otherwise enter into temporary evils in order to do good. But it might not work for the long term and it might cost you your life.
The first film focused on the first theme. Bruce Wayne begins to conceive of Batman during his lessons about theatricality from the League of Shadows (so that you become “more than just a man” in the eyes of your opponent). The idea takes further form during his conversation with Alfred about the nature of symbols on the private plane back to America (as a symbol, he can be “incorruptible”). Bruce Wayne would not be able to rescue Gotham City, but some symbol into which Wayne could step might be able to.
Symbols have independent existence from the occupant of the symbol. This is all very 20th century philosophy and we would be surprised if did not have a reasonably thorough philosophical education. Modern philosophy is obsessed with symbols, or what they call ‘signifiers.’ This is understandable given the fact that for the most part, academic philosophy in the 20th century tended to give up on truth. What’s left after truth? The symbols that used to convey truth.
Bruce Wayne creates what we now call a personal brand. He creates a brand logo and it is literally written on the sky. Media gladly distribute and magnify the story, enhancing the fame. It’s a reality show. Batman is a Kardashian, but with a little less padding. Criminals are terrified of this image (Batman, I mean), which is inherently terrifying, and comes from a traumatic childhood experience in a cave.
The problem in the second film is that the Joker seems better at it. His personal brand is even more compelling. His mugging for the camera is more open and explicit. He covers himself in layers of makeup (another Kardashian parallel?). He captures hostages, videotapes their executions, and calls on Batman to reveal himself in order to avoid further death. He has a Masters in Marketing that trumps Batman’s MBA. The Joker succeeds and the city largely turns against Batman. By the end of the film, Batman is forced to surrender entirely to this inversion of his ‘approval rating’ and take on the persona of villain. The Joker wins the P/R battle. He (being a villain) is the better publicist.
The fact that the symbol is a splice of man and animal feeds into the series’ focus on the dual nature of man, especially in the second movie. “What’s with all the growling?” the critics asked. Answer: Batman growls (and so does the Joker, who barks, too) because Christopher Nolan is exploring human nature. Early in the movie a group of gangsters brings a pack of vicious Rottweilers to a drug deal. While the gangsters can’t seem to lay a hand on Batman, the animals actually manage to injure him. The beast, literally, is the only thing that can find the chink in his armor. The mindless, self-destructive beast is the only enemy he hadn’t prepared for.
The Joker is almost all beast: He admits that “I’m like a dog chasing cars” when he commits his atrocities. He unleashes (literally) a pack of attack dogs on Batman during their climactic confrontation at the end of The Dark Knight. The Joker is perplexing to Bruce Wayne, who keeps trying to find ways to deal with the madman rationally. But the Joker defies all rationality. He tells fake origins stories about the scarring on his face which satirize the language of recovery and therapy, suggesting and then withdrawing the suggestion that he became who he is because of an abusive, alcoholic father. Critics have been puzzling over precisely who Heath Ledger (in the last role before his death) was channeling. I’d say that’s a complex question, but at least on one level he was mocking the whole modern notion associated with developmental psychology, that evil is the result of insufficiently loving parents. But what if the Joker is what St. Paul called ‘mysterium iniquitatis’, the mystery of evil, evil for no good reason?
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