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Why So Serious…? July 22, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, Films, hollywood, Movies, Personal, Reviews, Writing.
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We go to the movies to be entertained. The entire package consists of the movie itself, the snacks, the drinks and the over-rated pack of popcorn. The collective consciousness of the crowd willingly submits itself to the unfolding story in the darkened room and generally experiences a collective catharsis driven by tragedy, comedy and its various sub-sects. We pay to be pleased.


More so in films that have super-heroes as their linchpin. They, who can spin webs, face bullets and save the day with a display of physical prowess and cap it with a smart one-liner to an eager, adulating crowd. No matter what the threat the super-hero promised light at the end of the tunnel. The super-hero exists because of the super-ordinary; one who is assailed by fears, insecurities, helplessness and loss of faith.


For children, a Super – hero is God made visible – a person who makes a last-minute entry and saves the world on screen and possibly giving a similar hope that a hidden, last-second entry is possible even in his/her life. The super – hero is also the God of adults – who refuse to grow up. Emaciated by the world and its wile ways we close our eyes, pray and beseech – and our prayers are answered.


No more.


The Dark Knight, the latest Batman edition is bleak. It is a hopeless world, inhabited by an extremely serious criminal called the Joker. The Joker has no reasons. Imagine a love that exists without pre-conditions and excuses and reasons – we would be flattered and over-whelmed. Now, imagine ‘evil’ without any excuse, reason, bias. Heath Ledger’s terrifying performance (RIP) as evil incarnate envelops the film in its malevolent grip. A callous and focused villain, Ledger imbues the role with a primal hate that has no history, no journey or destination. He just hates.


This is the current state of the world Nolan seems to say. Super-heroes are not all-powerful, all-conquering, divinely ordained beings who can set any and everything right. They are fallible. And more importantly they are fallible only because they have morals. Their veins carry the milk of human kindness in them which makes them vulnerable.


Can we understand or negotiate with someone with whom we don’t share any common human qualities and traits? In that sense Batman and Joker are not equals – Joker is superior to Batman because he has no qualms or uncertainties. The world is subservient to the Joker’s whim, desire and agenda. He wiggles his tongue at the world and asks – why so serious? and leaves a trail of death and destruction behind.


Is Joker a realist or a nihilist then? A man reviled as a comic relief hell-bent on proving otherwise in a world that has lost all center and doomed to self-destruct. Joker is also not ‘part’ of anything organized. He is outside the parameters of organized crime and also of society. He is a pariah and is his own ideal, inspiration and messiah – and unfortunately, in today’s world, an idol, both for the powerful and the weak, to seek retribution.



1. dogstail - July 22, 2008

Hmmm….Thoughtfull and thought provoking. Sometimes I wonder whether things are simple or are they complex?

2. beylee - July 23, 2008

the joker is called terrorists a few times in the film, his use of video footage too is meant to establish that concept; only he’s more a psychopath.. a villain homegrown rather than imported from the east.. nearly all superhero films deal with the concept of pure good versus pure evil.. its taken to a deeper level in dark knight.. very realistic, gritty and bleak, very bleak..

3. astralwicks - July 24, 2008

ya beylee – the terrorist still has a cause, even if it is wrong or perverted; the joker doesn’t seem to have any – he is a psychopath as you describe. would be interesting to see if both ‘Batman’ and the ‘Joker’ unveil their faces. the joker too has a mask of make-up. it could also be read as Batman representing America – upright and standing for the world, powerful and armed setting things right in the world (Iraq, Iran etc) suddenly coming face to face with a greater power (Osama) that plays as bad and violent a game. So, is the vigilante (Batman) being equalled to the terrorist / psychopath (Joker)? at least from the joker’s POV

4. beylee - July 25, 2008

yeah.. two sides of the coin two-face carries eh? but yaar sahi picture hai.. 2 baar aur dekhunga..

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