The Dark Knight Rises: When hope is all it takes

What do I like most from this depressive movie? Depressive, as Bruce Wayne thinks Batman doesn’t exist anymore, that the hero is pointless. Depressive, as Bruce witnesses Ras Al Ghul’s in action, turning Gotham into ‘ashes’. Bruce does refers to Gotham as « his city ».

So how is depressive pictured in the context of Gotham? Buildings in debris, rich people being denied their privilege and luxury, advanced technology for saving the environment falls to the wrong hand, trapped police officers, CIA not being able to interfere, laws going toward anarchy and, surely, valueless money. Depression is not only a mental state, but also economic.

Depressive… as Bruce/Batman is a liminal character, being an orphan, a billionaire, and a lost lover. But we see that Bane is even more liminal. He is born and grows up in the dark, the pit, the hell on earth. Although the pit reminds me of the pit at the back of Wayne’s Manor, where little Bruce falls and first encounters the bats.

Depressive… as we see the bloodless fight between Bane and Batman. In ‘The Dark Knight’, Batman is in a one-on-one fight with Joker. But this has nothing to do with muscles. It’s all about intelligence. Joker makes schemes, although he doesn’t want to admit it. Watching the movie, we have no idea about what he is going to do next. We’re being led like sheep. In ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the fight is more physical. I could barely see how Batman is beaten by Bane like a little boy. His distraction weapon is like a toy (Remember Ras Al Ghul’s lesson « theatricality and deception are powerful agents »?). And Batman’s crushed mask says it all.

Alright, alright. I have to tell you. I watched Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Why did I feel I needed to (re-)watch the first two of the trilogy? To answer these questions:

  1. Who is Ra’s Al Ghul and what does he want regarding Gotham?
  2. What did Alfred actually do to Rachel’s letter? Rachel prefers Harvey’s to Bruce’s love?
  3. Does Gordon know who Batman is?
  4. What happened between Gordon and Harvey Dent involving Gordon’s son?

Maybe you are wondering why the judge under Bane’s rule, Dr. Jonathan Crane looks familiar. You can find out in Batman Begins 🙂 I also found a goof. In Batman Begins, I learned that Ras Al Ghul is, I assume, actually a Chinese played by Ken Watanabe. I, maybe speaking on behalf of some audience, had mistaken Liam Neeson for Ras. Liam in The Dark Knight is actually named Ducard. So he’s not Thalia’s father. But he does have a bitter love story.

In the Batman Begins, we also learn how Bruce has complicated relationship with Ras Al Ghul. He stands between Gotham and Ras. Why Ras hates and desperate to destroy Gotham, as it is, according to Ras, the symbol of corruption, injustice. And how Bruce wants (to be) a symbol as it is incorruptible. Batman is a symbol of justice and anti-corruption, and he can be anybody in flesh and blood.

Overall, what I like about Nolan’s Batman trilogy is how everything is always turned upside down. Harvey Dent, Gotham’s white knight, becomes Two Face. On the other hand, Batman the vigilante becomes a fugitive. For a while, I felt the movie is like a film noir, with the pessimism tone. Also the little details. How ugly Joker’s make-up is, how he sometimes sticks out his tongue like a lizard. The tremble, when Bane announces chaos over Gotham, or when Talia dies. Or Bane’s shedding a tear.

When my friend said, just before watching the movie, said how she had been excited to see Tom Hardy, the name didn’t ring a bell. Only after she said Bane, I shared her excitement. Bane… the charming humped villain. Listen to his voice, how his tone is rising at the end of the sentence. So distinguished, yet so alien. Sometimes his lines are poetic, as he says, « Behold, the instrument of your liberation! Identify yourself to the world! » or « … then I will break you. » Breaking is something more than killing, it can apply to soul and body. I always expect strings of poems coming out whenever Bane opens his mouth 😛

The ending, Batman flies away from Gotham, with the nuclear bomb tail. Close-up, he closes his eyes. I remember when I first saw Bale, in Empire of the Sun (1987). Yep, he, Jim ‘Jamie’ Graham, was the little boy talking about ‘a white light in the sky’.

The fight, the great show, the live behind a mask, the individual hero or idol responsible for humankind. You think you have enough of Hollywood?