Friday, December 12, 2008
The Dark Knight
One of my favorite things about The Dark Knight is the script itself; everything about this movie begins with such a well written script. It has been hard to place what is my favorite moment in The Dark Knight but waiting for it to come out for me to own, and watching it again I realized what it was. There is one image, one scene that has stuck in my head since the my first viewing. [Do not read if you do not want to be spoiled.]
Batman is in the high rise building with the Joker pinning him down, he manages to turn the tables and flip Joker off the ledge to what you assume will mean he is plummeting to his death; instead Batman fires one of his handy grappling devices and catches Joker by the feet hauling him back to the ledge and suspending him upside down. Joker blows in the breeze and laughs maniacally. What makes this scene work for me so well is the synchronicity of the dialogue and camera work that comes next as Joker delivers a speech that sums up the relationship of Batman & Joker perfectly starting with “this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object”.
Verbally every line that is delivered in this monologue is perfect and succinct. Joker will never give up and he loves having an opponent like Batman to fight, he knows Batman will never give up because he can’t have peace in a world where someone like Joker exists but he will not cross the line that it takes to defeat men like Joker. Joker & Batman know that to defeat Joker, Batman would have to become like Joker. This speech is hook, line and sinker the perfect summary of everything Joker is an always has been in any serious form of the story – he is a psychotic, conscious-free villain to the very core who doesn’t wreak havoc for the profit but for the joy of it.
While this beautiful bit of writing is going on visually Chris Nolan clues his audience into the meaning of this exchange. Batman strong and powerful is consistently large and visible in his shots, but Joker goes on a visual journey. When Batman first hoists him up he is portrayed visually as powerless – upside down and swaying, he has no control. However, as he verbally defeats Batman the camera begins to turn until Joker is right side up, visually this is a more powerful and dominant position to be in. When you combine the visuals with the monologue it becomes incredibly obvious – Batman has won the battle, but Joker is fighting the war.
Joker’s speech is a perfect one from an intellectual stand point. I have been sitting and wondering for quite awhile between Joker and Batman who is the “unstoppable force” and who is the “immovable object”. Immediate evidence would suggest that Joker is the former and Batman the latter, but when you really sit down I am pretty sure you could come up with evidence for the other side as well.
For all the people clamoring for the follow-up film I have one thing to say. Be patient. There was about three years between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight but it was worth waiting for wasn’t it? Nolan & Bale’s next movie’s won’t be Batman movies, but this doesn’t mean they won’t make another; both of these men are seriously committed to their craft and don’t want to make a movie just to make some money. So ignore the rumors about who’s been cast as Catwoman, Riddler, etc – they are fake – and just let the men work at their own pace otherwise you’ll end up with a movie more like Spiderman 3 and less like a genuine tale worth telling.
The Joker: You just couldn't let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won't kill you, because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Batman: You'll be in a padded cell forever.
The Joker: Maybe we can share one. They'll be doubling up, the rate this city's inhabitants are losing their minds.