Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

Warning: There are major spoilers throughout this post.

So, desiring to attend a movie premiere for the first time in my life, and preferring to attend a good movie and a fantastic sold-out show, I went to see "The Dark Knight" last night. And it happened to be fabulous. What is it that made "The Dark Knight" so good? In very short, the movie has managed to redefine the meaning of the word hero, which I believe is a very valuable contribution to our society nowadays. The hero is not always the one who does something for which he is publically acclaimed or recognized; in fact, it is far more difficult to be a quiet hero, an anonymous hero, or to give up one's glory for the sake of the people. And yet, in a trend which I personally adore (see my other post, true heroes, for elaboration) Batman sacrifices his own glory by sullying his reputation in order to save that of a friend.

This raises many questions, because the idea seems to echo that of our dear Colonel Jessep, that people cannot handle the truth. People need to believe in something greater than themselves, the hero with a face, the martyr for a greater cause, and therefore everyone must cover up the evil things a different man (the fallen person, who changed from supporting good to becoming evil himself) did and pretend instead that he was a great man who lived well, and whom everyone ought to respect. All this while Batman takes the fall for this man's crimes. (Now, in the movie, Batman's taking the fall is made less strong because this man originally takes the fall for Batman at the beginning of the film. So it seems to come full circle.) But this too is an ethical dilemma and question- what is more important, the people's morale and belief, or the truth? And this is a question that can apply to Judaism as a whole, in addition to our world as a whole, in terms of what people are taught or fed- is it more important to give people something to believe in, or to tell them the truth...

The movie contains many ethical dilemmas; the problem is that they are major rather than being subtle. One of the clearest is a situation where there are two ships at sea, each of them wired with bombs. One ship is filled with criminals, while the other one is filled with civilians. The Joker has given a person onboard the ship the detonator to the other ship. So the civilians can blow up the criminals, and the criminals can blow up the civilians. The caveat is that if neither group chooses to blow up the other, the Joker will blow up both of the ships, whereas whomever blows up the other ship will be allowed to stay alive. Now, in such a situation, there would be mass panic, and whoever could push the button first definitely would. However, in the movie we allow for an organized vote where finally people find something good within themselves and refrain from killing each other.

I'm a fan of all the psychological problems or moral questions, so I also loved the scene where the SWAT team is originally aiming at the wrong people, because the hostages (from a hospital- Gotham had to clear out all their hospitals due to a threat from the Joker) have been given Joker masks while the criminals are walking around wearing doctors' uniforms. I love that Batman beating up the SWAT teams makes him seem like the villain when of course he is not the villain at all.

As for the Joker himself, and the great debate- who makes a better joker, Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson? I have to say that Heath Ledger does not have Jack Nicholson's distinctive, scary, high-pitched laugh, or his casually elegant portrayal. Nicholson is less brutal and more entertaining; Ledger is clearly unhinged. And since I truly love Nicholson's laugh, that's something I missed. But Ledger's portrayal is definitely psychotic and brilliant, and one gets the sense that this man really is a person who would just like to see "the world burn" for the hell of it, and who does not want anything out of the game. He enjoys anarchy and chaos, without any rhyme or reason to it...

Highly recommended- go see it, and then we can discuss all the ethical dilemmas and other fun situations.


Anonymous said...

Were the criminals subject to the death penalty?
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Chana,you are having a good time in NY! But the show started @midnight,too bad I wasn't your by your side.
Glad you enjoyed.

Moshe said...

I watched it last night (Thursday night/Friday morning) at a 1:30AM showing.

It was amazing.

And Heath Ledger was unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you change your screen name to "uptown stalker"?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:43,
I mean no harm.I really would've liked to get to know Chana,she is such a polished and cultured person. Very smart, too. She made it clear to me that it's not an option.
You sound jealous.Why?

Anonymous said...

>You sound jealous.

Jealous, no.


Because you don't shut up with childish personal comments, email Chana and stop sharing your fantasy's with all of us. And grow up. Pretty weird after she made her disinterest in you known, you still stalker her. So next time you share with us another of your fairy tale comments, please use the screen name uptown stalker.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think that this "uptown guy" is not even a guy...

Anonymous said...

"In very short, the movie has managed to redefine the meaning of the word hero, which I believe is a very valuable contribution to our society nowadays."

I don't know about you but when I think of batman i also think of the "superhero" called Jesus. Both are fictional (to a large extent) and both sacrifice so much for the good of the people just to be scorned.

My view of the movie is similar to this review:

"The Dark Knight is a film one can respect, it is very difficult to enjoy."

Anonymous said...

Chana, an interesting post.
Did see the movie and found it disturbing,although the acting is great.

CJ Srullowitz said...

I predict, lulei demistafina, that Heath Ledger will win an Oscar for this role.

The Rashblog said...

"The Dark Knight" is quite possibly my favorite movie ever.

Yes, even more so than "Batman Begins," which I believe you watched at my recommendation (after I watched "Ordinary People" at yours).

In my opinion, Ledger's Joker was more true to the character, so I liked him much, much more. Truth be told, I was never a fan of Nicholson's Joker (blasphemy?), and I thought Ledger was utterly astounding in that role.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your post about Jack Nicholson Being a better joker Whole-Heartedly i believe Heath Ledger is a total inconsistent faker who when you hear the name joker heath ledger and his minimal laughter and craziness does nothing good by me
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Jack Steiner said...

I thought that Ledger was outstanding.

Holy Hyrax said...

I think its pretty simple. When you look at the Joker in the comics, he IS a guy that wants to watch things burn just for the sport of it. Heath Ledger all the way

Anonymous said...

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I've been screwed over by some ridiculous price drops in the past... especially this one time when I bought a Micro SD for my R4 gaming flash card at what was apparently a steal, only to later see that it fell five bucks in a week's time.

(Posted on BB for R4i Nintendo DS.)