The Dark Knight Rises: An Obsession and Analysis
[Editor's note: This is a lengthy analysis of The Dark Knight Rises. Obviously, there will be spoilers, many and myriad. If you haven't seen the movie but think you might want to, read at your own risk. Also, what's wrong with you? Just see the movie.]
Restless in bed, my eyes stare into the darkness. Black. He matches my gaze, mask and cape barely visible, but his call echoes loudly, “Once more…”
“Honey, go to sleep,” she says, “you have work tomorrow.”
But even restrained, my mind’s eye paints portraits with persistence, complex paintings of a summer concluded. Haunting scores boom beneath them, mocking my insomnia: “Rise.”
So I do.
The theater knows my face; it welcomes me with open doors, my desired seat always available. And then he comes. Just as captivating as before. He asks me to venture into his world one more time. “Surely, this will be the last,” I say, but he snickers before me. He knows better. He understands obsession.
Five viewings of The Dark Knight Rises and it’s still not enough. So at the risk of being excessive, here’s another freaking article about it. It seems I catch something new every time, some tiny, subtle nuance. For some showings, I went into the theater just hoping to escape from life’s trivialities. Others were analytical undertakings, and boy, do I have stuff to tell you.
Sure, when you go to a big-budget film like this, you just want to be wowed. Many of us don’t care much for the message, especially in our first viewing. But uncovering clever conveyances adds a completely new dimension of enjoyment. Like, um… You remember the Joker (Heath Ledger) scene in which he lights his substantial load of cash on fire in The Dark Knight? He talks about how he likes dynamite, gunpowder, and gasoline. Then he boils them down to one hard fact: “They’re cheap.” Juxtaposing said scene with Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) expensive crusade against injustice, we have some interesting, albeit pessimistic, commentary.
Crime is Cheap + Justice is Expensive = A sad truth (both in Gotham and in today’s society)
Stop it, Alfred… You’re gonna make me cry!
It’s always fun (a subjective concept, or so I’m told) to deconstruct a character and just as quickly reconstruct him with his supporting cast. Of course, you can say that Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is Bruce’s brains and Alfred (Michael Caine) his heart. But more than anything, it’s amusing to look upon them as the father figures they are. Something that I forget as much as anyone, no matter how popular or well-known the Caped Crusader’s origin, is that Bruce Wayne is an orphan.
Obsession, as some may know, is not strictly linked to watching the film itself. So, predictably, I scoured the internet for every interview/behind-the-scenes video I could find. And in one such clip, Michael Caine provided an excellent insight: Alfred is the viewer living in that universe. We are embodied in his character. And I couldn’t argue with that. It’s why Pennyworth is so sympathetic. He basically says everything we want to. Except for the whole abandonment thing, you know. Not sure I would’ve done that.
Expectedly, masks played a prominent role in the flick. We remember Katie Holmes talking about how Batman was Bruce Wayne’s true identity in Batman Begins. In the latest installment, we see the man’s billionaire playboy personality all but destroyed, with brooding becoming a full-time gig. Instead, Alfred highlights another antithesis: the mind against the body. As Bruce Wayne has allowed his past as Batman to consume him, the only discrepancy between the two identities is that Batman (the myth, the legend) was in better shape, stronger, younger. So now, the character known for his theatricality and deception has undergone a complete reversal. By hiding away for years, he wears his essence on his sleeve: sadness and disappointment.
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