The Dark Knight rises above expectations

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The Dark Knight rises above expectations

Donna Ward, MCTCampus

Donna Ward, MCTCampus

Donna Ward, MCTCampus

Batman in the Costume Institute

Joe Zappa, Editor-In-Chief

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As the riveting opening scene to the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy began, my mind was elsewhere. I could not focus on the high-intensity action scene which featured masterful cinematography consistent throughout the almost-three-hour -picture. I could not focus on the men held at gun point, faced with the choice of giving up secrets or being thrown off a plane. I could not grasp the fearsome image of a masked giant, the primary villain, Bane, beating in skulls and hijacking the aircraft. My mind dwelled on the victims in Aurora, Colorado—the twelve killed and fifty-eight wounded at the hands of a cruel gunman.

For every gun shot in that opening scene I thought of the terror in the movie theater in the Denver suburb two nights prior. For as that scene unfolded in Aurora, a man with a gas mask appeared and began shooting. He took twelve innocent lives with him, all while the fictional villain Bane spoke words of terror in the background. While I watched that first scene unfold on screen, the terror I felt was not for the fictional men hurled off the airplane in that scene, but for the real men, women, and children who died that night, watching the same movie I sat watching.

As the film progressed, the sweat on my palms dissipated and I began to focus more on the plot. My political alarm hollered throughout the epic. Many critics pointed to the film as representative of A Tale of Two Cities and the terror of the French Revolution. Others identified a similarity between the uprising Bane causes and the Occupy Wall Street Movement, although it must be noted that the latter could not have been screenwriters Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s intention, as the Occupy movement came to a head after writing for the film had finished.

Nolan has emphasized that the film was not meant to send a political message, and I do think there is value in preserving the purity of a great work of fiction by not politicizing it. I respect Nolan’s intentions and believe his words, but I could not help but notice these trends as well. Because as the disgruntled underclass of Gotham rushed to support the wild class upheaval led by the terrorist Bane, I could not help but think of the Occupy movement. That is not to say that the Occupy protesters would be so violent or so delusional as to support a terrorist, but it does carry a heavy and important reminder: order in society is key.

Freedom is a great American value and it must be protected. The Occupy protesters have the right to speak their minds. However, the terror conveyed by this film—which masterfully displays the dangerous implications of class warfare-driven demagogy—combined with the incomprehensible defiance of moral justice that occurred in Aurora, were enough to make me think about which value is more vital to our society: security or freedom? And if the price of freedom is a lack of safety, should we be willing to pay that price?

If there were tougher security or metal detectors in the Aurora theater, twelve innocent lives may have been spared. If we extended all aspects of the Patriot Act maybe the global effects of terrorism would be mitigated. If we took a hard stand against any type of sympathy for suspected terrorists and used all possible methods to eradicate organized crime domestically and internationally, maybe the world would be a safer place. Maybe freedom isn’t always worth the loss of innocent lives.

These questions are debatable, but what is undeniable is that The Dark Knight Rises far exceeded its predecessors by provoking them. After The Dark Knight critics universally praised Nolan’s vision in revolutionizing the super hero genre of cinema as one that could not just impress with cult-beloved characters and flashy graphics, but with thought-provoking, Oscar-quality substance and elite acting. The final installment of the trilogy built on that success and then some by challenging American values and sparking a potential debate that only the best movies can create. The Dark Knight Rises is not just a movie. It is a revelation.

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