Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight Deconstructed

First, let me preface this blog by stating that I did like The Dark Knight. I thought it was a good movie with lots of intricacies for which it deserves many kudos. My overall rating of the movie is an A-. I do have a few problems with it that I think could've been easily rectified. I've tried to write this deconstruction in somewhat of an organized way.

Blatant Character Problems:
1. Beginning scene where the Joker places the smoke bomb into the bank manager/hero's mouth--why didn't he remove the smoke bomb from his mouth? His arms weren't paralyzed.....he'd been shot but was still able to move his arms and hands. Our natural human reaction would be to remove the obstruction from our mouth. (This character was played by William Fichtner.)

2. When Two-Face is in the car with Maroni and he gives Maroni a chance with fate with the flip of the coin, the first coin toss is heads--rewarding Maroni with his life. But then Two-Face flips the coin again and it comes up on the dark side, which Two-Face used as a reason to shoot Maroni's driver. This action fails because it breaks the character's behavior and code. The whole idea of chance (used by the Harvey Dent character) has always been given to the recipient....the person making the choice. The driver here is robbed of the chance and Two-Face made the choice for the driver, although he tried to pass the blame off to Maroni.

I do like the symbolism of the double-headed coin prior to the accident and Dent still using the coin flip as though he's leaving things up to chance (all the while knowing it will always come up heads--always being the winning recipient, especially over whomever plays along with his game), and then the coin changing after Rachel's death (thereby illustrating that we can only control actions/reactions and not the fate/actions of other people).

3. After the interrogation of the Joker, when Batman lied to the police about which person he was going after (Harvey Dent or Rachel Dawes), he actively contributed to her death. It's supposed to be against Batman's moral code to not kill, but this act of lying was a kill by omission. The Joker had given Batman two addresses, even taking into account the possibility of an address switch, Batman and the officers appear to show up at the same location (albeit at different times)--where Dent was being held.

As a student and lover of philosophy, I absolutely loved the many philosophical questions packed inside the movie. There was the classic Prisoner's Dilemma, Ethics vs. Utilitarianism, Taoism, Existentialism, Kant's Categorical Imperative, Game Theory, and quite a bit more. For all of that, thank you, Mr. Nolan!! Each of those are individual blogs in and of themselves.

The Joker
I seriously hope Heath Ledger gets an Oscar for his performance. Ledger played the part perfectly. From the first moment the audience is introduced to the Joker, it is clear that he is a fully developed character. Ledger added just the right amount of creepily insane mannerisms (ie: tongue slithers, lip smacking, walking oddly in a nurse's outfit, etc.). A great example of how Ledger fully embodied the character of the Joker was during his crashing of the fund raiser thrown by Bruce Wayne for Harvey Dent. After the Joker crashes the event, Rachel Dawes steps up and instructs him to stop tormenting people (not her words, but it's the sentiment). The Joker, liking what he sees as he turns to her voice, tries to be a bit lascivious and straightens his hair as he walks toward her. He delivers all of his lines excellently--especially when he says, "Hi," after entering the den of the mobsters.

I think Christian Bale was just an okay actor for this role. This seemed like a walk-on role for him and he didn't seem to bring anything particularly special to the character. And, what was up with Batman's voice? I know his voice needs to be somewhat masked to protect his true identity, but the voice was just a little too over the top, especially in the last 1/3 of the film (which seemed even more melodramatic).

Other Characters and/or Problems
1. I think the whole subplot of the snitch was superfluous. Seriously, if that whole storyline was cut out, it could've shortened the film and the audience/story wouldn't have lost anything.

2. The ending was a bit melodramatic. After seeing it a second time I do appreciate it a little better and can forgive some of the dramatic voice-over (which is only a semi-voice over since Gordon is supposed to be talking to his son), but I still think it's kind of a cop out and a cheap way to bail out on the audience.

3. There also appeared to be a couple of times that the movie could've successfully ended. After the great street chase/truck flip scene, with the Joker and Batman, would've been an ending because the Joker had been caught and taken into custody, while Batman was saved by Gordon and is recovering. I know the problem with ending it here is because Two-Face had not yet been created, but, nonetheless, it was a natural ending. However, the movie pressed on. There was another spot it could've ended, but it's not as strong as this example.

Oscar Question
Okay, I definitely think Heath Ledger should get an Oscar for his performance. My question is, if he is nominated, for which category will it be. I'm not really sure how/who determines the particular category for the nomination. For example, could/would Heath Ledger be nominated for the Leading Male, or would it be Lead Supporting because the Joker wasn't the protagonist in the film? Is the Leading vs. Lead Supporting based on the protagonist vs. the antagonist?

That's it for now. I know I'm forgetting some parts but the movie was so long and involved. I truly liked it though.


Zain said...
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Anonymous said...

the burned side of the coin (from the accident in which dent's face burned) was equivalent to killing, while the clean side meant the person did not die.