Knight of Darkness

Last week, as a birthday present, my son took me to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. He thought it a motion picture masterpiece, and has razzed me on occasion for not going to see action movies anymore.

So we took an afternoon off from work to see it in Imax. My son was overawed by the Imax presentation, but for me, it was just a movie on a really big screen.

In terms of execution, it was, indeed, a cinematic masterpiece. It was photographed beautifully, was rich in detail, with excellent performances. Heath Ledger, in particular, was chilling as the Joker, perhaps too chilling.

But, in brief, I just didn’t like it. Gotham City is a tired, corrupt place, where all the trappings of civilization are still there, but the underlying premise of civilization–that others have integrity and can be trusted, at least enough to maintain civil order and enable commerce and the exchange of information–has rotted away. There are what appear to be flaming non sequiturs where events simply don’t make sense, until you realize that someone was probably bribed.

And the Joker is a vicious madman. There are some things that I simply don’t understand, and the modern fascination with psychosis as a subject for motion pictures is one of them.  Part of me wonders if Heath Ledger took the character too seriously, to the point where he became the Joker, went mad, and killed himself. Oops: I’m not supposed to say that, for we know that Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose, having taken five different kinds of pain killers at the same time.

I don’t like movies whose main characters are criminals, unless they commit some extraordinarily clever crime, and I don’t like movies with vicious madmen. And now I wonder if our fascination with such characters has led to the death of a fine young actor.

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