It’s been ten years since The Dark Knight dominated cinemas around the world. Where has the time gone? So much has happened since then. So many movies in the superhero genre have entertained us over the last decade, but the Nolan films remain unique, and in particular, The Dark Knight remains one of, if not the best, superhero movie of all time. Make no mistake, I am a massive Batman fan, but when you pull the covers back on the 2nd installment of Nolan’s Batman films, it is hard to put anything else in front of it.
I remember back in 2007 I went to see I Am Legend in the IMAX theatre here in Melbourne, Australia. As part of the previews before the film commencing, we found out that night that the cinema was in for a unique treat. We got to see the opening bank scene for the Dark Knight. With a year remaining to its release, the cinema lost a breath as they watched the genius Clown Prince set up the Gotham bank job taking the mob’s cash! Now I remember hearing when Heath Ledger was cast the Joker and all I could think of at the time was that he was never going to live up to Nicholson’s persona of the iconic villain and that Nolan has made a mistake. I judged too early because after seeing the opening bank scene as part of I Am Legend; I was in a trance for the next 12 months eagerly awaiting to see the film!
As good as an actor is, from time to time in some performances you can see through the performance on screen and for me that is a sign that the actor has let their guard down in some way. However, with Heath Ledger’s performance, you simply don’t see Heath, the actor. You don’t get a sense he is on screen at all; he masked himself physically and mentally for the role. All you see is his unique persona of the Joker, and in every way, he stole the show. As a fellow Australian, I was so proud to see what he created, how creepy, scary, and dominate he was on screen. He demanded your attention and got it. I summed up his performance in one word, Legendary!
Christian Bale for me is the best film adaption of Batman/Bruce Wayne. The actor found a way to humanize the character in a method that to this day is unmatched. The new suite wasn’t indestructible, but again realistically had to become practical. In a world where Bruce Wayne was stamping out crime, the story centers on him coming to terms with what he would have to become to stop someone like the Joker who didn’t have a clear intention like the standard criminal. I loved just how broken / and human he was in this film, and how much the man had to sacrifice to deliver on what he believed was right and correct. You simply can’t beat that.
You know you get drawn into a film when time evaporates away, and you don’t notice the clock, the film as we know extends over two hours. I went to see The Dark Knight in the cinema four times, and in each sitting time escaped me. The soundtrack added to the movie’s appeal, and while Alfred guides Bruce through his journey, we understood the importance the butler plays in his life.
The only dent in this film for me (with no disrespect intended) was the casting of Margaret Ruth Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes. I just didn’t think she stood as strong amongst a star-studded cast; it was a shame that we couldn’t see Katie Holmes come back to play the character.
It is so hard to nominate a favorite scene from the film, but I can tell you which scene still grips me emotionally. The final scene after Two-Face falls to his death; Batman knows what he needs to do to save Gotham and prevent the Joker from winning by taking the fall for Harvey Dent. We see Batman limping and running to his bike, while Gordon’s son seeks clarity as to why Batman “is running, he didn’t do anything wrong”. Gordon goes onto explain that Batman needs to run, he needs to take the pain and the torture, he can take it, he can absorb it. That scene still raises the hairs on the back of my neck; it emotionally ties me in because here we have a man that is sacrificing his life, lost his one true love, and taking the city’s mounting problems on his shoulders for the sake of what is right, and good. It is nothing short of inspirational.
The tribute video below found is a perfect dedication to the film!
Ten year’s on the film remains in a category of its own, it still sets the pace as to what a ‘realistic’ superhero film can look like. It’s tone, storyline, action sequences, characters, music, and flow are all brilliant.
Heath Ledger, we will never forget you.