Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Review+Social Commentary

I just went to see The Dark Knight Rises. At a matinee in a large theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. Before I give you my review, I have to address the obvious question: was I scared, in real life, to go see this movie? What happened at the theatre that was different from the norm?

Last Sunday, if i had asked that question, you'd all think i was insane. But today, on this very day, I can't say that there wasn't a slight tinge of worry in me, given this weeks' assault on humanity in Aurora, Colorado at a midnight show of the film. But, appropriately in line with the battle of Good vs. Evil that is present in any comic book or sci-fi based piece of work, life in the spirit of living on world won. Ironically, during the first big scene where Anne Hathaway's Catwoman is involved--the very scene during which the massacre in Colorado happened--it was at that moment that I allowed myself to be released of my real-world fear and escaped into the film.

First, some insight into my state of mind while walking into the theatre (and i promise, this is all leading to a point). I was happy to see that the theatre staff were at the very least checking my purse when they checked my tickets. By "checking" i mean they glanced inside, and however small and likely unequipped the ticket-taker at the theatre probably was in the event that I had anything actually harmful inside my purse (besides that dreadful lipstick i bought last week that looks terrible on me), this small action made me feel better.

Then, when we went into the theatre, everyone was definitely giving the people around them the once-over. Citizen patrol of suspicious characters. The theatre was pretty empty...though it was a matinee show, which usually have less people, the gal at the food counter told me that far less people came in to see it this weekend, and the effect was noticeable to all the staff. So there's that. Also comforting was the fact that every so often, a theatre employee would walk up and down the aisles of the theatre and had a red light stick with him/her and would look into the audience. I'm not quite sure what they were doing, but somehow, that made me feel better too. And by better, i mean safer. In my crazy little brain, what was really tripping me out was that all i could keep hearing over and over again were the news reports saying that the shooting happened about 20 mins into the film, right when there's a guns-blazing scene with Catwoman. For some reason, I was nervous for that moment to come.

And now the ironic part: that as that scene came, for all the build up that i had in my own head about the external factors, it was so good in the film that i forgot about my fear. I escaped into the world of the film. And in a beautifully full-circle way, isn't that the point of movies? Escapism? I remember learning that during the 20's and 30's, when the Great Depression reigned over our country and most businesses closed down, movie theaters were among the surviving brick and mortar locations that did NOT shut down. Why?

Because people needed an escape from their lives. They needed a place of quietness and darkness where they could secretly hope for something better, or find out, in contrast, that perhaps they don't have it that bad in their own lives. And ironically, The Dark Knight, despite everything that has happened this week, did that for me.

Even more surprising to me was an unexpected scene that moved me to tears. There's a scene (not really spoiler alert but i do refer to the location of a scene in the film here where Bain's guys go) where the "bad guys" go guns blazing into the floor of the Stock Exchange. Somehow, my earlier fear of being in the theatre and thinking about the massacre in Colorado combined right at this moment, and i burst into tears for the poor people in the theatre that night, just trying to enjoy the movie. Just like in the film, the poor people just doing their daily job were attacked. I was surprised at my own reaction, and it wasn't a tear-jerker scene. I think it was...catharsis, in a way, of all of the injustice and sadness that I have been feeling this past week while watching the news. Again, another reason why we watch films...catharsis. They allow us to feel and release emotions that were otherwise pent up inside of us.

After that moment, I was able to finish watching the film without fear, and allowed myself to fully take a leap of faith...both into the world of the film, and into the world that we live in; and knowing, or having to believe, that for that hour and a half, I was safe. I was in a safe place. Even if others weren't in Colorado this past week, the only way to move forward is to have to believe in something good. For me, at least, that's the only way forward that I know.

As i said in a previous post, thoughts and prayers and all that is good and helpful in the universe goes out to the people affected in Colorado this week. What a terrible, terrible tragedy. I only hope that the families and the survivors find a place where they feel safe in their coming days of healing and moving forward. It may take a long time, but I hope for them that they can again feel safe in this world, and can find a way to allow themselves to feel the joy, sadness, excitement, catharsis and escapism of going to the movies. I also hope that others who are scared to go to the movies throughout the country, even just a tiny bit scared like i was, can find a way to rise above the fear and believe that good does triumph over evil. If we believe that it can, then it can. If we believe that it can't, well, then we lose a part of our humanity.

Ok, after that more serious section of this post, I do want to say something about the film, because that is the nature of my blog. I am a lover of The Dark Knight trilogy, and this film did not disappoint me. Without giving anything away, it left me with a GOOD feeling, not one of darkness or hopelessness (even though i cried at the end). It was exactly what I hoped it would be, and so much more. Bale's Batman and Bruce Wayne were exquisite, and Tom Hardy was brilliant. I kept thinking of Darth Vader, one of the best villains in all of movie history, and the fact that Hardy's Bain even made me think of a comparison to Star Wars was the biggest compliment I could ever give his performance. Joseph Gordon Levitt was spectacular, and I now have developed an official crush on him. Just wait till the end for a particularly great scene with him!

Marion Cotillard surprised a very good way. I love her in general, but wasn't sure how she'd fit into this film, and boy, did she fit in. And lastly, Anne Hathaway, one of my favorite actresses of our time, was wonderful. I didn't love her character as much as I hoped I would, but perhaps there will be some deleted scenes in the director's cut that will leave me feeling more redemption on her behalf in the future. The story was tight, and everything from all 3 films came together beautifully.

A LOT of the scenes were shot right here in my neighborhood, so later today i plan on taking the Vespa out and snapping a few pics to share. Those who have seen the film will like them, I hope, at least as much as it excites me to be in the very spot where "this" or "that!" scene was shot in a film that you love.

On a final note, as I was leaving the theatre, I saw a bunch of people heading over to it. More than a few were wearing their batman or batgirl t-shirts, and that made me tear up a bit. No costumes are allowed in theaters currently, and I totally understand why, but displaying your love of a fantasy world and a piece of work which can only be classified as moving-picture art IS still allowed. And those people who put their fears aside to go see the film today and this past weekend, even if they weren't wearing a t-shirt, displayed that our hope in "good" vs" evil" is not, in fact, lost.


Unknown said...

Thank-you, Daria! I was feeling fearful about going to see The Dark Knight, too...and I felt silly about it...silly because actual horror happen to good people, not me, so why should I feel this way? You made me feel such usually happens when sharing with others. Thanks for sharing your full circle moment...I love that!:) I plan to see the film and continue to pray for the people of CO.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, i saw it too this weekend and felt very similar feelings to you.

GeekGirl said...

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts and feelings...!

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