Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

I saw "Dark Knight" last night.

The build up to this latest Batman film was unparalleled due to the untimely death of Heath Ledger who played one of the main characters. But even without the passing of Ledger, this film promised to be good if it stayed in line with the first Batman movie (Batman Begins, 2005) of the Christopher Nolan variety.

The movie did not disappoint and Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker may well be one of the greatest villain performances in film history. Classic villains of films gone by have nothing on Heath Ledger's Joker. Margaret Hamilton (Witch in Wizard of Oz), Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs), James Earl Jones voice (Darth Vader in Star Wars saga), John Malkovich (Mitch Leary/In the Line of Fire), Dennis Hopper (Howard Payne in Speed), Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates in Psycho), Linda Blair (Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist), and the Shark (Jaws) are among the greatest villain portrayals. I believe Heath Ledger's Joker will be quickly added to this list.

Dark Knight is not for children or most teens. If a teenager is permitted to view it, I would suggest it be done with parents who have already viewed the movie and can preface before and debrief after. It's dark and violent, however not gratuitously so. It carries clear philosophical messages, most of which are explicitly post modern (conflicting presentation of the innate "goodness" of man, the situational ethic of vigilante justice, everyone has their unique standards, no one standard can be deemed absolutely right-it all depends on the particular situation, an extremely fine line between sanity and insanity, the seeming primacy of chance, what is a true "hero"? etc). Nevertheless, the movie is a cultural landmark that can evoke much good discussion for Christians. It will be the talk for some time to come, being conversant regarding such a phenomena can be a helpful witnessing tool for believers. I'm not in the practice of recommending films, so don't go run out and see it on my account. I'm just telling you what I think. It's always safest to wait for the DVD which allows for turning it off or fast forwarding. For what it's worth, I think the rash of postmodern-type films we are now witnessing presents a tremendous opportunity for the truth of Scripture to be applied to flawed and fallen thinking.

Obviously Ledger's death helped promote the popularity of the film and make it the number one weekend box office opener in American film history. Still, if Ledger had lived, the opening wouldn't have been as big, but I assure you his performance would have still gained the notice it deserves. Ledger was a so-called "method actor". He gets so in to this role it's scary. Some even suggest this depressive role contributed to his death (accidental overdose on an assortment of prescription meds). I don't see how the role could be played better- a true villainous masterpiece.


Anonymous said...

Atticus Finch a villain? Or are you just testing to see if anyone is reading?

Reepicheep said...

Wow, that was fast. Inside joke...my bad.

rgmann said...

I didn't really like the movie overall -- not sure why, but I just didn't. But I agree that Heath Ledger's performance was superb, with some of the best acting I've seen in a long time!

Frontier Forest said...

Sorry Tony, just can’t see you as a “Bat-Man” kind of guy! You are more of a “Robin” or maybe just the “Hood”.

dbusenitz said...

Excellent Movie. I agree, Ledger takes the movie from average to above average. Good acting, great storyline, good action, it has it all.
The thing that stuck out to me was the costant push and even climax of the whole movie for the "right thing" for Batman to do, even when it had such terrible implications. Morality is certainly screwed up in hollywood, but somehow movies that tend to do well often involve the main character doing the "right" thing. And not too many people question the "right" thing.
In a postmodern world, that is a great example of the still remaining (probably lessening) absolute truth.