Everybody is chasing Batman.

If one of the missions of Hollywood is “to shed light into history”, another is to cure traumas. That’s Batman’s exact reason to get to work.

This article begins with the presumption that the business of filming has a summer box office and a winter box office. And with the assumption that the whole world lives in the Northern Hemisphere, shares the same traumas and is scared of the same thing in unison… Hollywood’s geographical location has a lot to do with the formation of this assumption, of course. In the old days, the heart of the film industry in the above mentioned hemisphere would go on a summer vacation and the floor would be left to the martial arts masters of the Far East and the orphans of Walt Disney. Luckily, producers have kept on working, come rain or shine, and have left behind the differences between box office takings stemming from seasonal changes…And now films made on gigantic budgets fearlessly meet their audiences in air conditioned theatres. Hulk, Speed Racer, Wanted, Hancock, Kung Fu Panda, Prince Caspian and Journey to the Center of the World were the first-comers to the appointment in their extravagant clothes. In between, four or five European and six or seven romantic and eight or nine horror movies squeezed in, but they preferred to remain sweet little peccadilloes.

As of 25 July, The Dark Knight Crossed our borders with such a loud bang that it silenced all the other movies made for summer and it lured us with it sweet promises. Batman’s second sequel directed by Christopher Nolan, smashed all the box office records on the weekend it was released in its country of birth. There was no reason why it should not have repeated the same thing in one of the small markets of the Northern Hemisphere, i.e. Turkey… Well, in fact, there was a reason!

The film was unexpectedly slow as a Batman adventure, maybe because it was expressing itself very very slowly (152 minutes). Because everybody in the movie was talking too much, and to make it worse, was repeating the same thing over and over: “I am scared!”

It will be interesting to see how a movie, every minute of it soaked with the fear of terror, will affect the perception, “fear won’t protect you against death” that is prevalent on the eastern side of the Northern Hemisphere. As the Joker frequently repeats (in case there is anybody who does not get it), “Chaos is scary”, and, the evilest thing you can do to humans is to present them with difficult choices. In other words, “Making choices is also scary!” On the other hand, what is embroidered in Batman’s identity is something like this: “There’s no need to worry. Those who live according to rules will eventually win, for peace lies within rules.” And, of course, peace is also bought to you by heroes… Whether they are chosen or they are appointed does not matter. In an interview with Newsweek’s Devin Gordon, Nolan the director and script-writer of The Dark Knight, identifies the city of Gotham with Baghdad and Batman with the American presence in the region. “I can say there is a parallelism of threat of chaos (in both cities). Today, Baghdad is a striking example of this threat. And it is very frightening to imagine the same situation taking place in one of our cities.”

And exactly here, we must put a note that the imaginary City of Gotham was mostly New York until this film was made. In “Batman Begins”, Nolan kept his closeness to New York. This time it seems he must have decided to transform Gotham into Chicago. Consequently, the intense reference to 9/11 in the first film goes on in the silhouette of another of “our cities”, which Nolan has mentioned, turning into an even bigger threat of terror. This time chaos grows in the hands of The Joker, who enjoys killing for no reason, and it compels to question the humanitarianism of all the inhabitants of the city, from hero to policemen, and from convict to mother. Of course, people who have a tendency to deviate from humanism happen to pop up. In that case, officials offer a warning, which almost says, “Are we going to submit to the threats of a terrorist (who sends his messages in videos)?!”

Now is there anything unclear about the subtext of the movie up till here? If there is, you must go to the Dark Knight. Thus the film does what this article cannot do and does not allow the viewer to miss the meaning of any points. There’s no problem about time and space! (The movie occupies 152 minutes versus these two pages) What is basically bothersome about the movie is the trauma of  9/11, which it cannot rid itself of… But then, isn’t therapy for trauma something like this? Pulling fear up from the deepest wells, discussing them and beating up on people… For example, you can well consider The Dark Knight a kind of group therapy, which raked in 155 million dollars on its weekend opening. And beating up on people comes with the territory of heroism, anyway.

 

IS THIS WHAT THEY MEAN?

Bruce Wayne/Batman: Ill-at-ease, and even schizophrenic occasionally, undecided but a man of principals. His taboo is to kill! Message 1: Principles are a hero’s weakness. But don’t you heed bad people. Message 2: A hero either dies untimely, or he lives long and turns into a bad guy.

The Joker: The worst character who likes conveying messages by means of video, kills for no reason, likes chaos, puts on make-up as war paint.

Message: “What does not kill you, makes you strange.”

Harvey Dent/Two Faces: The attorney general nicknamed The White Knight, i.e. the hero who was elected.

Message: The elected may be good, but they get corrupted easily.

Alfred: Ex-soldier and Batman’s best man for ages.

Message: “Burn the forest to catch the terrorist! That’s what I did!”

Lucius Fox: He is the “Q” of Bond and also the “Fox” of Wayne… An acrobat of technology. A very sensitive fellow about ethics.

Message: If bugging phones serves good purposes, matters of ethics may be bent a bit once or twice. But have a look first.

Rachel Dawes: Vice Attorney General and his fiancée. Batman’s confidante and ex-girl friend. 

Message: Marriage is even more important an issue than death.

James Gordon: Chief of police of Gotham. Maybe the very last entity in this city who managed to stay clean.

Message: Lies don’t do any harm to anyone.

 

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

 Hero with dual passports

 Born in 1970 inLondon. Grew up in Chicago.

Color-blind for red and green (Does this explain the dominance of grey in his films? Or his affinity for the Dark Knight?)

Admires Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott; that’s why he likes city designs in dark tones…

Has dual citizenship; American and English. He always carries both of his passports, just in case.

Rumor has it that he has signed for a third Batman sequel.

Nolan was compelled in 2000 to borrow money from audiences to shoot Memento. He was delivered approximately 185 million dollars for Dark Knight.

Newsweek Türkiye, Ağustos 2008

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