Batman: The Dark Knight
Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week we examine The Dark Knight, a film directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Aaron Eckhart.
Batman: The Dark Knight (2008) | Directed by: Christopher Nolan| Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Batman: The Dark Knight Analyzed By Aliens
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is The Dark Knight, co-written by visionary auteur Jonathan Nolan and directed by his brother.
The Dark Knight tells the story of Bruce Wayne, a run-of-the-mill billionaire playboy who suffers from a brain disease that makes him pretend to be a rodent. Which is good, because he lives in the most mentally disturbed city in America. Wayne uses his limitless wealth to buy expensive armor, then goes around punching lots of people who aren’t wearing any armor, such as Baghead [Scarecrow], these mob guys, and an unemployed clown named the Joker.
The Joker decides he wants to get to know this “Bat-man” a little better, so he offers to not kill a bunch of people in exchange for Bat- man’s identity. Bat-man catches him instead, but not before the Joker sets up a tasty little trap: District Attorney Harvey Dent and perennial love interest Rachel Dawes are trapped in two different rooms filled with barrels, which are deadly to humans. Rachel is killed and Dent changes his name to Two-Face, even though Half-Face is probably more accurate.
The Joker escapes, and Bat-man uses his Bluetooth to track him down and finally spend some quality time together [Joker: “You and I are destined to do this forever”]. Two- Face starts throwing a hissy fit, so Bat-man silences him with a big hug, then takes the blame for everything so he can take a much- needed vacation.
The Dark Knight is a film permeated by duality. Bat-man (a.k.a. the Dark Knight) yearns for a world where he can be replaced by Harvey Dent, the White Knight. Except in Rachel’s bed, that is. When Dent becomes Two-Face, he embodies this duality, from the two sides of his face to the two sides of his coin to his two perfectly intact eyeballs that never dry out, even with prolonged exposure to air.
Another duality is order versus chaos [”This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object”]. This concept is presented visually at Harvey Dent’s super sweet sixteen [TC 49:20]. While Bruce Wayne is shot with a smooth, controlled camera, the Joker is shot with a handheld camera and erratic zooms. The Joker seeks to show the people of Gotham that underneath the facade of an orderly society is existential chaos. Kind of like how underneath my eyebrows is another, crazier set of eyebrows.
The Joker is a nihilist, one who believes in nothing, not even the concept of nihilism. When asked directly [bank manager: “What do you believe in, huh? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?”], the joker’s response is meaningless [“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stranger” TC 5:30]. So too is the grenade he puts in the manager’s mouth — it’s just an empty scare tactic that emits a floral perfume. My guess is Chanel number 5000. The Joker offers several different stories about the source of his scars, but they are all lies. It doesn’t matter how he got the scars. The Joker jokes because everything is trivial.
But unlike this picture of a cat on a skateboard, the Joker’s terrorist acts aren’t random. They try to prove a point: morality is a sham.
Take away humans’ physical comforts
or safety and they will turn into wild animals [Animal from the muppets]. Not literally, like we can. I’m talking metaphors here. The Joker exploits the innate, base lawlessness of humanity: “Their rules, their code, it a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble” [TC 1:28:00]. Like the proverbial heated potato. The Joker has the bank robbers kill each other in order to increase their share of the loot. He gives three “friends” a weapon, telling them whoever survives gets to join his team. He threatens to blow up hospitals if people don’t do his bidding, causing cops to turn corrupt and citizens to attempt murder. Pretty good for a guy who can’t even put on his makeup correctly.
The Joker’s pièce de résistance, pardon my French, is the corruption of District Attorney Harvey Dent. Harvey’s double-sided coin represents his rigid adherence to the ideas of justice, morality, and order, not to mention his firm commitment to the U.S. Mint. He leaves nothing to chance [“I make my own luck”]. But after he becomes Two-Face, the coin is scarred on one side, turning it into a regular coin: 50/50. Or if you’re really good at coin-flipping, 60/60. Just like the coin, Dent has been infected by the Joker’s vision: a reality ruled only by cosmic anarchy [2:18:00- “The only Morality in a cruel world is chance”].
At the beginning of the film, Dent is a Christ figure [2:21:02] whose campaign slogan has religious intonations [“I believe in Harvey Dent”], as well as rock and roll connotations [song: I Believe in a Thing Called Love].
But whereas most films use Christ imagery to suggest that the character has sacrificed himself for an ideal, or for the good of humanity, The Dark Knight shows us a daring and modern interpretation of the Christ image [picture of Jesus as an alien]. No, only kidding. It shows a Christ without resurrection. In other words, just a dead dude with a righteous beard. A false Ideal, but one that must be upheld as a beacon of hope for mankind. Bat-man takes it upon himself to uphold that facade, thus maintaining order.
But unlike Dent, who represents order through idealism, Bat-man represents order through force [from Spaceballs: “May the Schwartz be with you”]. He is a fascist — like my father-in-law — a necessary evil to tame the beastly side of mankind [Caesar discussion at dinner]. As the ferry scene proves, the democratic method is not enough. A simple vote would have them do the amoral thing, destroying the other boat to ensure their survival. It takes tyrannical power to ultimately uphold justice [big guy throwing the detonator out the window], which is why Gerald Ford kept being elected president. When Bat-man creates the sonar machine, it is a tremendous violation of privacy, bordering on morally bankrupt. But as Alfred tells him, sometimes the only way to catch a jewel thief is to “burn the forest down.” Another way is a cage with a piece of cheese inside.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. To apprehend the world’s most dangerous criminals, click the subscribe button.