Batman Context and Critical Reception

Dark Knight, Dark Ideas

definitions:
  • Ideology – a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
  • Socio-Political Context – contemporary ideologies, regulations, policies, conditions, laws, practices, traditions, and events that define America’s education. … Together with other material and concrete conditions in the society, these factors create barriers to educational progress.
  • Vigilante – a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.
  • Dominant Hegemony – Hegemony is political or cultural dominance or authority over others. The hegemony of the popular kids over the other students means that they determine what is and is not cool. … As well as the dominance of one group or nation over others, hegemony is also the term for the leading group or nation itself e.g. capitalism in USA
  • Authoritarianism – the enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others.
  • Dichotomy – a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.
Bullet Point Summary
  • Vigilantism, Justice and Vengeance: In the article it is argued that Batman “is a force for ‘good’ who fights criminals by putting on a mask, attacking them in the dark and dishing out his own vigilante justice, uninhibited by the laws, restrictions and corruption that the local police deal with”. This links in the article to Batman’s symbolism of vigilantism, justice, vengeance and even fascism. This section also states that without something to fight against, Batman is pointless.
  • By any means necessary – the tactics of Batman: in this section the article talks about Batman defeating the villain by becoming the villain, as well as good and evil becoming murky concepts as the film progresses, and links to America making it impossible to distinguish good from evil after 9/11.
  • Inequality in Gotham: this section highlights how the people of Gotham are portrayed as “corrupt, chaotic, unequal and unjust” (Douthat, 2012), and how Batman does not fight inequality or any of the other factors that might cause increases in criminality.
  • The Masses: this section of the article claims that Nolan deliberately put less faith in the masses, presenting them as docile, useless and incapable of achieving anything worthwhile. Meggs (2009) states “the film’s ideological conflict seems to centre around the fundamental worth of humanity, whether it is as truly as corruptible as the Joker thinks it is, or if it has an essential nobility as Bruce Wayne believes”.
  • Order vs Chaos: the article gives its final thoughts on the topic, reflecting on post-9/11 concerns about terrorism, justice and retribution, as well as finishing with this view from Meggs (2009) – “by not seeking to create a radically new system of government or social structure, he ensures that he will always be needed”.

9/11 and the War on Terror – Context in the Dark Knight

Harvard References

  • Turner, P., 2013. Dark Knight, Dark Ideas. The ideology of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, 37-41.
  • CrashCourse. (2014). Terrorism, War, and Bush 43: Crash Course US History #46. [Online Video]. 30 January 2014. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlsnnhn3VWE&feature=emb_logo. [Accessed: 9 December 2019].

The Ultimate Villain (The Joker)

The Ultimate Villain

What makes the ultimate Antagonist?
  • Exceptionally Good at Attacking the Hero’s Weakness: the more powerful the antagonist, the more of a struggle there is for the protagonist, which makes for a better story. Much of Batman’s power comes from his ability to intimidate, from his physical strength, and the Joker is able to create situations where he is unable to use it, for example when he has captured Rachel and Harvey Dent. The Joker doesn’t fear death, and so whatever Batman does cannot scare him, as well as the fact that Batman’s one rule is that he doesn’t kill people, so the more the Joker causes chaos and kills people, the more Batman’s morality is a weakness. The only way to stop the Joker is to kill him.
  • Pressuring the Protagonist into Difficult Choices: the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature. The Joker pressures Batman into making decisions which are extremely difficult, applying more and more pressure throughout the film. The pressure on Batman keeps increasing as people keep dying through the film. This is key in the sequence where Batman has to choose between Harvey Dent and Rachel. In choosing Rachel, Batman reveals what he’s unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good, and the Joker rewards this with switching the places of Rachel and Harvey, leading to Rachel’s death. Batman is forced to face his true self by the Joker.
  • Competing for the same Goal as the Protagonist: Both of them have their own vision for Gotham and are fighting over it in the film. Batman wants a place of law and order, while the Joker wants all hell to break loose and chaos to erupt. They are both competing for the soul of Gotham and only one of them can win.
  • The Joker enables Batman to become wiser, while learning that he alone has weaknesses, but with allies they can be stronger against the Joker. His resolve deepens and he learns that he can make difficult choices no-one else can, like becoming a criminal for the sake of Gotham, because of the Joker.
  • The Joker is a great antagonist because he has a profound and specific effect on the story and the protagonist.

The Dark Knight Narrative Analysis

Narrative Analysis of Batman: The Dark Knight

The hero’s journey is completed to a limited extent if we look at the outline detailed in the slideshow and video above, as the narrative of Batman: The Dark Knight only fits with some of the points, not all. For example, the Status Quo, Call to Adventure, Assistance, and Departure all fit well with the narrative of the film, however, Trials and Approach could be seen as being the same thing when looking at The Dark Knight. This is because there is a lack of events at this point in the film to fill these two separate events. The Crisis section does not fit completely with the narrative of the film, as yes there is a crisis, however it is not the main crisis of the film, which comes later on during the sequence with the two ships containing the civilians, criminals and two bombs. The Treasure section becomes irrelevant as Batman’s love interest is killed in the Crisis section of the film. After this, the Result and Return sections are marked by the largest climax of the film, as well as the Return not being fully fulfilled as Batman does not return the same as before, as he becomes a criminal to maintain the reputation of the now dead Harvey Dent. The New Life and Resolution sections do become relevant as Batman is forced to begin a new life, however the Status Quo that Batman is meant to return to is not fulfilled as he is on the run.

Batman Genre Analysis

Repertoire of Elements

Genre Analysis – Similarities and Differences

SImilarities
  • Setting – often set in a city, usually New York, where action takes place or character lives.
  • Death – a character who the main character is close to dies, usually at the start of the film or in the character’s backstory.
  • Good vs Evil – in Batman’s case this is good vs evil and order vs chaos, as Batman works out through the film that the Joker does not want any specific thing, just to cause chaos and ‘watch the world burn’.
Differences
  • The Girl – in most superhero films, the main incentive in the final battle against the antagonist is the hero’s love interest – in Batman’s case the girl, Rachel, is killed in the second half of the film.
  • Other worlds – Batman does not include and other-worldly battles or scenes of any kind, which is common in superhero films, and features a very human antagonist, which a lot of superhero films don’t have, as the antagonist is often from another planet.
  • Bruce Wayne – the protagonist does not have any incredible powers, like super intelligence, super strength or the ability to fly, and was not different from birth, he is simply a billionaire with a traumatic childhood.

Lighting

Lighting Basics and Three-Point Lighting

Key Light: the key light shines directly upon the subject and serves as the main illuminator; more than anything else, the strength, color and angle of the key determines the shot’s overall lighting design. This is often achieved by a specialized lamp, or in some cases a camera flash.

Fill Light: the fill light  may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene to match the dynamic range of the recording media and record the same amount of detail typically seen by eye in average lighting and considered normal.

Back Light: the back light is placed facing the camera with the subject placed between them. The effect is to produce a glow or rim on the edges of the subject at the back, and creates a more 3D feel to the shot.

Lighting Video and Page

The Impact of Lighting

Lighting can have a huge impact on a shot. If the key, fill and back lights are not put in the right place or used properly, it can have a hugely detrimental impact on the quality of the film as well as making the subject of the shot look 2D or unnatural as the lighting is wrong for the context. As well as this, lighting can have a huge impact on the meaning and atmosphere in a shot. For example, in horror films a lot of shadow is used to create a creepy atmosphere and create a sense of danger and unease, so if the horror film had a lot of well-lit scenes, and very little shadow, then the lighting would not work with the context of the film and the meaning of the shots.

Foley Sound

Foley Videos

Below are the videos we used to gain an initial insight into Foley Sound:

My Foley Video

The Importance of Foley Sound

Foley sound is incredibly important in a film. It provides sounds which could not be picked up by recording devices used when the scenes were being filmed, and provides a sense of background in a film. Foley sounds allows the audience to hear every sound as the director intended, as well as making a film seem more realistic. For example, if a character was walking up the stairs, and no sound was played when they stepped each time, this would appear odd and unnatural to the audience, so the sound must be filled in.

The Kuleshov Effect

Kuleshov Effect

The Kuleshov effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation. The video above summarises what the Kuleshov Effect is and how it is achieved. 

Kuleshov Video

I think that overall this video shows my understanding of the Kuleshov Effect well, as I have given two examples where the person subjected to the effect could be interpreted as being scared, or caring/worried by giving two different contexts. I think this shows my understanding of the Kuleshov Effect well, as well as showing how I have progressed with my editing skills. When editing this video I learnt about how keeping the eyeline of the actor the same is crucial, as well as the fact that when trying to achieve the Kuleshov Effect the shots of what the person is looking at must be shot from their eyeline. This also helped during editing as everything made sense angle-wise.

Basic Movement

Movement Video

Reflection