The Dark Knight Rises: I was hoping you’d go deeper.

Darling Boyfriend was spooked by the Auroroa shooting incident, so I went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my lovely friend M. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It left me a bit frustrated and it took me a while to parse out why. So here are my preliminary conclusions.

I thought the opening sequence was awesome. I loved how being Batman has taken its physical toll on Bruce Wayne. I liked there were three women in the movie, particularly Cat woman and her obvious friendship with another woman. Did not like: there were hardly any women among the extras. Seriously, there were no women in the back ground anywhere. Not among Bane’s crew, hardly among the police crew. That left me wondering about Gotham’s reproductive strategy.

Gordon-Leavitt was a revelation as an actor and in my reading the actual hero. I loved how the regular humans, i.e. Commisioner Gordon and Detective Blake, are the actual stars of the show, doing their utmost to keep track of the bomb so they could defuse it eventually.When leaving the theatre, I was not very happy with the politics of the movie. Now, I’m not sure what to make of it. It is clear that Gotham is an oligarchy: most of the money and power are concentrated in the hands of few. There’s tough legislation to keep organised crime in check, which I do not read as something that belongs in a democracy. Due process, proper lawyers, and police procedure are important parts of the rule of law. This is flaunted in Gotham. Then there’s Bane. He is ***massive spoiler*** deputised by Talia al Ghul to burn Gotham to ashes. Talia wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. He isolates Gotham from the mainland and claims to return the city to its citizens. The audience knows that this empty rhetoric, that Bane has no real interest in doing any of that. He just needs to keep the citizens inside. He installs a reign of terror including show trials (presided over by Scarcrow/Jonathan Crane. I may or may not have Yay’ed when Cillian Murphy came on screen). The styling clearly refers to the French Revolution and the reign of terror afterwards. Nolan mentions returning to The Tale of Two Cities when developing this script. The obvious insincerity of the ‘returning the city to the people’, plus the lack of enthusiasm among the citizens to be given power over their town makes me believe that the movie is not meant to be a warning against revolutions or even against some form of self-rule.

For a while I thought Blake was meant to be the champion of democracy, as tacky as that sounds, because he and Commisioner Gordon are the ones that organise the resistance. I’m leaving aside the question whether the police force is an ideal breeding ground for democracy. Blake and Gordon were doing some form of organising for and by the people. However, Blake ends up giving up on democracy/rule of law police work -the due process, full researching all the facts, even the ones that might exonerate someone. That was deeply disappointing. I get it ***massive spoiler*** it’s meant to set him up as Robin, perhaps to a new Batman? I really think the Nolans could have dug a little deeper in the politics of this. It doesn’t have to be ‘democracy is awesome’ but now I’m a bit disappointed.

There’s another theme that was potentially interesting but disappointingly developed. Trust. Which comes in two versions. The one is a larger, social issue: the notion that when you develop a technology, somebody will find a way to weaponise it. Call it the Nobel conundrum, if you will. Wayne enterprises has developed a sustainable, clean energy source, but Bruce refuses to put it to use for the city because he fears it might be weaponised. This strategy is a failure and Bane and Thalia Al G’ul get a hold of it anyway. Bruce’s unwillingness to share technological knowlege is mirrorred in his lack of emotional sharing with other humans. He’s emotionally completely sealed off. So when he has to trust someone, he puts his trust and nucleair bomb in the wrong hands.

I’m really certain there’s something there, I just can’t really put my finger on it…


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