The Dark Knight
Okay, let me be up front and say that I haven’t even seen this film yet, but the hype surrounding this thing is reaching a fevered pitch and is worth taking a look at in its own right.
First off, let’s acknowledge the fact that Heath Ledger’s death seems to have catapulted him into jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain status as an untouchable saint of pop culture and thus diminishing any true talent by relegating his image forever to the realm of wall posters and the obsessive daydreams of overly dramatic teenage girls. And trust me, there are few things more powerful in this world. Just look at what 12 year old girls did for Titanic, or the much less benevolent wielding of those energies as Britney Spears. The fact that people were mentioning Oscar for the young Australian actor before the movie even came out seemed like evidence to the fact that Ledger was becoming legend.
But none of this explains the first wave of buzz since the movie’s release that says it is brilliant almost in its entirety. (Don’t even get me started on the second wave that has parents whining about how they brought their 7 yr olds to see it and they cried. I don’t care what toy stores are selling. Be a parent.)
TDK co-star Michael Caine, the man who has made more movies than any other actor besides John Wayne, said in a pre-release interview that Ledger’s Joker was the scariest psychopath in movie history – in movie history. Just stop for a minute and consider who that claim has to measure up to:
* How about fellow English Knight Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter? Seriously?
* Robert de Niro in Cape Fear (or Robert Michum’s original for that matter)
* Kevin Spacey in Se7en – HELLO! Dude put Gweneth’s head in a box (where it belongs)
* Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
* Tom Noonan in Manhunter. Tell me, do you see?
* Jack Nicholson in the Shining?
* Gary Oldman
* Is Anthony Perkins’ Psycho too obvious? Mother what do you think?
* Not to mention Christian Bale’s performance in American Psycho
* Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday? I mean c’mon!
Sir Micklewhite had left himself wide open if you would have asked me. He does, however, have some pretty impressive stats to back up his claims about Ledger and the Batmovie now. IMDB’s top 250, voted on by users, currently has TDK ranked as the #1 movie of all time. Yes, you read that right. To put that in perspective you should know some of the top 10 contenders include The Godfather(s) 1 & 2, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Casablanca. Citizen Kane and the Wizard of Oz are buried somewhere in the 30’s. The movie review site Rotten Tomatoes has the Dark Knight clocking in at a 94% ranking, making it one of the highest rated movies in their site’s 10 year history.
Granted, these rankings have a lot to do with the power of modern marketing, the influence of the internet, and the fact that the celebrity culture Tom Wolfe wrote about in Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby in the 1960’s has since staged a full blown Coup d’etat on American society and now rules us with an iron fist. Long live Mary Hart’s legs! Only time will tell where the newest Batman will land on less proletariat lists like the American Film Institute’s Top 100 though.
Like I said, I haven’t seen it yet but if you noticed at the beginning of this nasty mess I called The Dark Knight a “film”. The implication, from my perspective, is art. So I guess I want to believe in what this movie could be just like everybody else, and I hope Michael Caine is right.