Batman is a controversial superhero as he has some qualities of a superhero, however his choices, identity and image prevent him from being a superhero such as Superman or Captain America. Batman:
- Has an alter ego similar to many superheroes like Wonder Woman’s Diana Prince or Spiderman’s Peter Parker, however Batman’s alter ego is different in that he is not an unknown student or untraceable like Diana Prince, he is exposed in the public eye which is very dangerous when it comes to people finding out his identity.
- Has weaknesses like any other superhero, for example Superman’s weakness is kryptonite, and Luke Cage has adamantium – Batman’s weaknesses come from his ability to be mortally wounded, and his inability to break his moral code – he forbids himself to kill anyone as it is against his morals.
- He makes a sacrifice that most superheroes find it impossible to make – he sacrifices himself and his happiness for the sake of Gotham City, which stops him from being viewed by the public as a hero, but is a heroic act nonetheless.
Batman is both a superhero and not a superhero. He does fit some of the superhero archetypes, however tends to change the way the audience interprets these elements. Batman as a superhero seems to redefine what it means to be a superhero – Batman is heroic in his actions, yet is seen as a villain because of them, but this does not make him any lees of a hero.
The Dark Knight – Mob scene
The representation of the Joker in this scene is very important as it sets the scene for the rest of the film – this is our first scene of the Joker in the Dark Knight. This is also important to note as the way the Joker is shot in this scene will give the audience an insight into the character of the Joker. Firstly, the lighting in this scene instantly creates a sinister atmosphere – the dark corners of the room, the artificial lighting, the light and shadows on the metal cabinets behind the Joker – they all give a distinctly twisted feel to the scene, which links to the Joker as he is the one closest to the majority of these surroundings, creating both a sense of unease and a sense of distinction. What makes the Joker stand out even more is the effect the lighting has on his costume in comparison to the mob bosses – the Joker’s green and purple suit and makeup catch the audience’s attention instantly. Secondly, the composition and angles add an interesting feel to the scene, with the low angles giving the Joker a sense of power, as well as symmetry and depth of field creating a scene which is both interesting and creates a sense of chaos surrounding the character of the Joker.
- Relationship to whole film 5/8 Film elements – 9/12 Cultural context 6/8.
- Avoid starting essays with this sort of statement. Be bold make a strong statement about the criticisms of Batman.
- Use quotation when you are actually quoting something from a source, not the source itself.
- Really great use of sources and I am really pleased to see you using terminology so effectively. There are moments when I think you could have developed some of the cultural context and links to whole film. Specific some of the specific acts of the US government and compare to the actions of Batman. Also, whilst you discuss alternative superheros, you could have been more explicit in terms of the genre / morally simplistic narratives of those films / characters. Really good work and a significant improvement from the last textual analysis essay.
This feedback is very useful as it will help me when planning my next essay, and to improve and add information which will improve the essay as a whole.
The Kuleshov Effect
Definition: 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.
Editing can be used to both edit constructs of meaning in the minds of the audience, and draw audience attention to specific elements of mise-en-scene which are important. This is usually in the shape of characters view of what they see, although not always (often the audience know more than the characters) and this gives rise to dramatic irony.
We were given a 6 minute clip of one of the final scenes from the film, where Nicholas Angel attacks the elderly village members, and looked at the editing in the scene, which is below.
Examples of Montage in Film
Dark Knight, Dark Ideas
- 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
- 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].
Advanced Cinematography Slideshow
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.
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.