The Dark Knight

July 30th, 2008 by Potato

I really, really liked The Dark Knight. If you want a gritty superhero movie, it really doesn’t get any better. On some level I did miss the Joker flourishes: this Joker was very utilitarian, with detonators that were little more than circuit boards with keys, bombs that were just drums of gasoline with car batteries and TNT, grenades that were right off the shelf. There were no smiley faces, no canned laughter… but all in all, a really excellent movie in my opinion. I don’t know what else to say since just about every other review has already sung the Dark Knight’s praises; I can’t really add to that.

Spoiler warning!

Orson Scott Card also liked it, but I have to wonder if maybe one of us is remembering the movie wrong or if they sent a different version to Canada.

“There are two key moments in the film where the Joker poses terrible choices. First is the time when he puts Batman’s true love, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and her new love, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), in another [sic]. Both are tied up, surrounded by explosives. Batman has just enough time to save one of them, but not both.

We are deliberately not told — perhaps even misled — about which one Batman is rushing to save. It is assumed — because of the romantic conventions of American movies and comic books and western culture — that he will save the girl.

But it has been established that Batman believes that Harvey Dent is a true hero, vital to the survival of Gotham City as a civil society. So his choice is, at least in his mind, between saving the city and saving the love of his life.

He chooses the city.

And this is the morally right choice. It is exactly the choice that parents make when they send their children off to war, or into the police force or the fire department. If anything, the love of parents for children is greater than the love mates have for each other. Yet, when the needs of the overall society — the city, the nation — require it, parents make the choice to permit it, even to honor and embrace letting their children go into harm’s way. “

You know, that’s a lovely analysis and all… but as I remember it, we were told that Batman was going to save Rachel. He grumbled to Gordon “Rachel” and Gordon yelled to the other cops “We’ve got Dent!” and then Batman was surprised to find Harvey Dent at the building he arrived at. It was this switcheroo that added to the tension for the boat scene — would the Joker switch the detonators again, so that if the citizens did try to blow up the criminals, they’d just end up sinking themselves? The switch was part of the Joker’s whole “break the rules” thing. Even when the rules are terrible (kill this dude, or I blow up a hospital; choose which one dies), people can get used to rules, to not panic as much even though it may cost them their life one day. So the Joker sets up his terrible choices and devious scenarios, and then breaks the rules anyway. He makes Batman choose between Harvey and Rachel, but switches the addresses. He threatens to blow up a hospital unless a lawyer is killed — but even though the guy wasn’t killed, it sure looked to me like he was going to blow it up anyway, since at no point did we see him check to see if the deed was done. He warned people not to take the bridges or the tunnels, but it was the ferries that were rigged to blow.

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