In Theatres Now: The Dark Knight Rises

  • 07/23/2012
  • Terelle Jerricks


Directed: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman

On Friday night, I anxiously peered through the movie theatre dim for a gun totting psychopath. I scanned the exits, though doubtless, I would’ve been powerless to protect myself or anyone around me from harm. Call it irrational paranoia or rational cautiousness, I feared that a copy cat or a conspirator in league with James Eagan Holmes would visit death upon the audience. We see movies to temporarily escape the realities of our lives yet, while we share the director’s vision, we are terribly vulnerable to acts of violent lunacy. As the trailers rolled by, I wondered how this hadn’t happened before and how long before it will happen again.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after Batman is blamed for the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent, who, in memoriam, is credited with ending the reign of organized crime in Gotham City. Suffering survivors guilt over the deaths of Dent and Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne wastes away in self-imposed exile that only ends when he is summoned to don the cape and cowl to battle a seemingly new evil gestating in Gotham’s bowels. Batman is propelled into action by the familiar urge to be a tool of justice, but believing he has lost the only chance at a normal life, Wayne takes flight to find an honorable release from his suffering.

Taken as a whole, the trilogy tells a complex story of personal responsibility and the social contract that binds society together. Batman Begins explores an individual’s confrontation with fanaticism, as Batman thwarts the plans of the League of Shadows who believe that Gotham’s salvation can only be found in its destruction. The Dark Knight chronicles an individual’s confrontation with madness both within himself and his adversary, as Batman loses his soul and saves Gotham from the Joker’s psychopathic pyromania. The Dark Knight Rises largely eschews the individual and focuses upon a society on the brink of annihilation, as Batman again fights the League of Shadows, he does so in the company of unmasked citizens who believe that society is worth preserving.

In the four years since the release of The Dark Knight, we have witnessed political revolution fueled by increasing global economic disparity. Evidently, director Christopher Nolan and screenwriters Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer were paying attention and soberly wove their hopes and fears into their creation. It’s impossible to yet taste the fruit of the Arab Spring or to test the long term heft of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movements. But by invoking the bloody imagery of the Terror of the French Revolution, the creators seem intent upon transmitting a message to would be enthusiastic populists of all stripes: take care in what you wish for, as the tides of revolution may sweep away both the guilty and the innocent.

Christopher Nolan is unlikely to not win an Oscar for this film, but he should. Nolan is an exceptional storyteller, a grand magician really, who fundamentally understands the potential of cinema to transport the audience to a distant reality, albeit in this case a reality just as disturbing, but with the consolation of a happy ending.

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