Monday, July 23, 2012

Initial Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises (Contains no spoilers, in case your worried)

"The films genuinely aren't intended to be political."

When I read that claim by Christopher Nolan, I thought of C.S. Lewis's trilemma regarding Christ: Liar, Lunatic or Lord.

Since Christopher Nolan is no Lord, nor does he appear to be a lunatic, then he can only be lying when he says these Batman films -- especially the final instalment of the trilogy -- are not intended to be political. An argument from etymology may not be entirely convincing, but the word "political" derives from the Greek word for city, and The Dark Knight Rises is nothing if it is not about the workings of a city. I'm not giving too much away when I say that The Dark Knight Rises presents a politics, a counter-politics, and a counter-counter-politics.

Even from Batman Begins and through The Dark Knight, the question has not merely been if Batman would save the city, but also if the city is even worth saving. That is a deeply political question, so it is utterly baffling how Christopher Nolan can claim that his films weren't tackling politics. Until you read the next line in the interview...

You don't want to alienate people, you want to create a universal story.

And there it is. Profit. Alienate people, especially 99% of them, and they won't come to see your film. Well, they probably will, but that's not a chance that any studio executive is willing to take.

As for the film itself, there's a lot to digest before I come to terms with what I think of it. All I know for certain at the moment is that I prefer The Dark Knight, and by some distance.

I remember a quote from a philosopher invoked by Sid Lowe when discussing Real Madrid a few of seasons ago: You will win, but you will not convince.

That's sort of the way I feel about The Dark Knight Rises. I recognise some of its qualities, and even at 2hrs 45 mins I was never bored, but it did not convince me. I was convinced by the darkness of The Dark Knight. I was not convinced by the rising of The Dark Knight Rises. To put it in theological terms, Nolan can depict the abyss of the cross, but he falters when it comes to the light of resurrection. What is worth saving? What should be resurrected? What needs to remain toppled? What needs to change? I wasn't convinced by Nolan's answers. I wasn't convinced by his city.

(Aside: It has been noted that Nolan pays homage to other works of film in The Dark Knight Rises. What I haven't read about is his tip of the hat in the direction of The Wire. The film contains (at least) two actors that starred in The Wire, no doubt indicating the not insignificant overlap in terms of their respective depictions of a city.)

No comments:

Post a Comment