Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Dark Knight Rises


contains spoilers

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Gothic, the romantic horrific, the dark powerful majestic. Today's Batman and his Gotham aren't Gothic but Goth: listless, cynical and unimaginative.

Gotham used to be different, a black world of fear. Now Gotham looks like our world : we are black.

Batman the superhero used to give you a frisson of fear-tinged excitement. Bruce the man used to be an enigma, he used to be impressive.

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The Dark Knight Rises, sometimes badly edited and wrongly accented, makes you realise how hard it is to make a film, especially one of such scope.

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The film feels like a perfunctory ticking off of scenes, as if the film already exists in Christopher Nolan's mind and the filming process is book-keeping, information-sharing and joining the dots.

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Bruce climbs out of imprisonment (a dark passage with a brilliant light at the exit) after abandoning the rope which is the umbilical cord still linking him to his mother and father and their deaths. It is also a rebirth out of himself.


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Selina Kyle, curious and opinionated, a woman in an improvised dance with morality, is the most insightful (and interesting) of all. She sees Batman for what he is, sees people for what they are good or ill and, despite being a cat burglar and despite her disdain for the fat cat capitalists who "live so large" learns to see  Communism for what it is :

Selina: "This used to be someone's house"
 Jen: "It's everyone's house now".

She has a strong mind and she is not afraid to change it.


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Bane plays with the populace and buys their passivity by namechecking the latest fashionable grievances - rich people, corrupt institutions, hierarchies built on lies. He has no (at least easily ascribed) political position. He is power-hungry and murderous. He is a showman with a scary/playful voice. It's unsurprising that to defeat Bane the inspirational rabble-rouser you have to punch him in the mouth.

What marks Bane, Batman and Selina out is attitude. It is will. Batman and Bane's final fight on the steps of the city hall is devoid of trickery, theatricality, martial artistry. It is a brawl of pure rage and willpower.

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Where are the normal people who would fall victim to Bane and Talia? The neutron bomb is the perfect refuge for the uncreative scriptwriter and film-maker because it is as impersonal as it gets.

The most heinous act of killing is the one that will move us the least.

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A story of the poor and criminal underclass vs the rich and powerful may have worked better without Bane.

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The statue of Batman erected in Wayne Manor makes no distinction between Bruce and the costume, between man and symbol. They are of the same bronze. Is Wayne subsumed by Batman for all eternity? Has the costume become Bruce's skin?

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Batman and Catwoman are outcasts who humanise one another by cancelling out their animal halves. The cat elopes with the bat and Selina hightails it with Bruce.

In the end the bomb isn't a clean slate for Gotham but for Bruce and Selina.

The climactic shot of Selina and Bruce in Florence recalls a paparazzi shot, catching them having abandoned character, out of the world in which they made their name. They look completely and utterly relaxed. Selina is unaware that she is being looked at. The feeling of freedom and contentment is lovely.


6 comments:

  1. Great approach here Stephen! I did like the film, but I won't go to the mat for it. I think the focus was rightly placed on Batman, and the visual design as expected was arresting.

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  2. Cheers Sam. I liked it a little more than The Dark Knight, which was pretty bad. There were a couple of impressive moments but the film as a whole didn't grip me.

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  3. Wow these look seriously good, Great recipe!

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