When the Joker told the truth…

Wednesday, 20th February 2019 , Vettri theater, Chromepet, Chennai.

I finished my work at the office early and set out to watch the epic masterpiece, The Dark Knight.

I have watched The Dark Knight earlier and also watched a few spectacular scenes in YouTube many times and frequently come across the famous quotes on the internet. It was released 11 years ago when I was in 10th std. Back then in 2008, I had no access to English movies in theaters at home town, only dubbed versions would be released in Telugu and Tamil, which are outrageously funny to watch with improvised and localised translations.

The fantastic opening scene of the bank robbery had the audience in the theater roaring like never before, especially when the Joker removes his mask and says “I believe, whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger“.

However, the most often used quote is Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But the joker says, stranger.

Yes, strange as it seems, when was the last time a villain in the movie was adored and admired by the audience? We love superheroes; we like Iron man, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wonder woman etc.. But do we like or at least remember who their antagonist was? Perhaps No, because those movies were just popcorn entertainers with loads of CGI, punch lines and witty jokes. But The Dark Knight was a very serious movie. The director made a very big gamble by not succumbing to the clichéd templates and a regular Hero saves the people and destroys the villain kind of stories.

Many of us would have watched this movie and read a lot of reviews, blogs and references about it. Here’s my take on The Dark Knight and the Joker.

Why was the Joker loved by everyone?

Because the Joker was not joking, he just spoke the truth. He does what he intends to do, with a very high success rate, whereas Batman becomes clueless in front of jokers tactics and falls into the ideological trap laid by him.

We saw villains in various movies having the lust for power and wealth or becoming rogue to seek revenge. But Joker never cared about any of these things. He just wants to watch the world burn. He puts a heap of currency notes on fire. He proclaims himself as an agent of chaos.

He is aware of the true nature of the people. When given a choice, even batman fails to pick up the right one. He is a very good manipulator. He takes the city’s white knight and brings him down to his level. It wasn’t that hard for him to do it. Madness, as you know, is like gravity, all it takes is a little push. He doesn’t kill anyone but turns them to kill each other.

Like the saying Form is temporary and class is permanent, joker wants to become a better class of a criminal. In a sense, confronting Batman and showing how vulnerable he is to the fallacy of human morality. His in depth understanding of human nature and its flawed sense of righteousness makes him  antagonize Harvey Dent with a brief discussion.

The Joker tries to enlighten Batman by saying these golden words during the interrogation.

To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.

Joker had a point and indeed proves in the end that he is correct. Batman had to take the blame of the killings he never committed and every citizen of Gotham, later on despises him, especially the police.

Why is The Dark Knight a masterpiece?

It is not only a superhero movie, but also a flawless blockbuster satire on society. The story, script and memorable dialogues are supported by a fantastic cast.

Life is all about our choices. When batman was given a choice to choose between his ex girl friend and the crusader Harvey Dent, he fails miserably and proves that he is also vulnerable. He gets stuck in the grand scheme of joker.

Just before climax, when Batman is unable to kill the Joker, again we are given these beautiful lines from Joker.

This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.

Misplaced sense of self righteousness. This is where Joker proves how deep his thoughts are and how accurately he relates the human nature to the philosophy of good and bad. Every one of us might be under the impression that we are good and our decisions and opinions are always correct, until a person like Joker slaps us and enlightens us. We fail to recognize that perceptions are bound to differ. Our sense of self righteousness is not validated until we, ourselves come under its purview.

But the explosive justification to the title The Dark Knight is given after the awesome climax. When Harvey Dent goes rogue by attempting to kill an officer’s kid to avenge the death of his fiancée girlfriend, Batman kills him. The entire hope the city had on Harvey is just about to collapse. Batman recognizes how important it is to have hope in life and keep faith in people we love and admire.  When Batman loses his parents when he was a kid, a police officer instills hope in the little heart by saying that the world is not going to end here. He regains faith and develops strength from League of Shadows. Now, people of Gotham will come to know that their beloved hero Harvey had a double face now.

To avoid the collapse of faith, Batman says to the commissioner,

Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Batman takes the blame of all the crimes done by Harvey to hide the truth and reward the faith of the deserved. Commissioner Gordon lies to the world by praising Harvey Dent that he was not the hero they deserved but the hero they needed.

But, the emotional punch is served in the end by Gordon himself thereby justifying the title.

Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one we need right now. So we’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because, he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…. The Dark Knight

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