Dark Knight director describes his movies as innocent and joyful, and the copy-cat massacre inspired by his movies “senseless”

Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight series, has released this statement about the massacre in Colorado (note that alone of all bloggers, journalists, and politicians in America, I call it a massacre, not a “tragedy,” a word that conveys the meaning of an unfortunate act, not an evil act):

Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of “The Dark Knight Rises,” I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.

Nolan, serving as his own good cop against his own bad cop, is not believable. He assaults his mass audience with staggering levels of cinematic sadism, intensifying today’s anti-culture in which superviolence and a crushingly ominous sense of existence are the norm, and then turns around and claims that his movies are “innocent,” “joyful,” and “hopeful.” Yesterday I quoted a description of the pornographic level of violence in Nolan’s 2008 movie, The Dark Knight. Here is a review of the new movie, The Dark Knight Rises, by Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal:

… And feeling good about life is not what Christian Bale’s Batman wants. This third—and, the director insists, final—installment of Mr. Nolan’s series makes you feel thoroughly miserable about life. It’s spectacular, to be sure, but also remarkable for its all-encompassing gloom. No movie has ever administered more punishment, to its hero or its audience, in the name of mainstream entertainment….

But the most proximate source of the threatening storm is Bane—an implacable, bemuscled villain who wears a mask over his disfigured face, and who speaks in muffled tones that make Darth Vader sound like an elocution teacher. (He’s not the only one with intelligibility problems; the movie’s use of bass frequencies to convey threat and evil does for dialogue what amped-up rock does for lyrics.)…

The most stunning thing about the film, though—and this is said not by way of praise, but with anxious wonderment—is how depressing and truly doomy most of it is. Batman, played by a marvelous actor with a singular gift for depicting pain, suffers mortally. Drums beat incessantly—before, during and after a series of numbing, Neanderthal brawls between Batman and Bane. History takes a double beating from a script that reprocesses the storming of the Bastille into an attack by terrorist thugs.

Dark comic books have always been around, but with a difference; as pictures and words on paper, they’ve allowed readers to choose their own degree of involvement. “The Dark Knight Rises” allows no choice; it’s immersive and assaultive to a degree that could only have been achieved by the conjunction of a quintessentially somber comic and a filmmaker with a complementary sensibility, marshaling the vast technical and financial resources of an entertainment conglomerate. During the Great Depression, moviegoers flocked to escapist films with glittering dancers, happy endings and upbeat songs like “Happy Days Are Here Again.” For whatever this movie may say about today’s world, it rises to a different occasion and dances to a different tune. Happy days are done and gone.

And now see this, from the AP:

Shooting suspect James Holmes called a loner who emulated the Joker; his mother says, ‘You have the right person’
July 20, 2012

James Eagan Holmes, the suspect in custody for shooting dozens of people at a “Batman” movie in Colorado, was described as a reclusive loner who at one point painted his hair red and called himself “the Joker.”

Holmes’ mother, reached on the phone by ABC News on Friday morning in San Diego, said, “You have the right person. I need to call the police. I need to fly to Colorado.”

The family later issued a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved.” The family also asked for privacy and said it is cooperating with authorities.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who said he had been briefed on the shooting, said Holmes had emulated the Batman villain the Joker. [emphasis added.] Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates would not confirm the report but did say he had spoken to Kelly.

- end of initial entry -

B. writes:

I think Nolan was speaking generally about the pastime of watching and enjoying movies at a theater. And you know how libs love to wax starry-eyed and eloquent about “shared experiences” (never mind exactly what the shared experience is). But in other interviews he’s made it clear that his own movies are dark, heavy, gloomy, etc. That being said, I agree that it’s amusing for him to appear TOTALLY oblivious to the irony of the whole thing. Just how “joyful” of an experience does he expect the audience to have watching a Dark Knight movie? Ugh.

LA replies:

True, he doesn’t literally say, “My Dark Knight movies are innocent and joyful.” But he does unquestionably imply the same, since he says that people, including the people in the audience in Aurora, Colorado, go to movie theaters for an innocent and joyful experience, and that this innocence and joyfulness were senselessly violated by the “tragedy.”

LA adds:

But the connection is more definite than what I just said. Nolan said: “The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.” So it was both movie theaters generically and the specific movie theater where the attack took place that he describes as innocent and joyful. If the movie theater where the attack took place was innocent and joyful, then ipso facto the movie that was playing in that theater when the attack took place was innocent and joyful.

A blogger called me a liar for saying that Nolan described his movie as innocent and joyful. But only a sophist would pretend that Nolan was not conveying the meaning that his movie was innocent and joyful.

Paul K. writes:

The image of the insane shooter, with hair dyed red, dressed in body armor, wearing a gas mask, and sadistically gunning down helpless men, women, and children in a theater as a violent movie plays on the screen above them sounds exactly like a scene from one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. If Nolan had written and directed that scene, he would have proudly used it in his movie. It is truly “dark.”

I saw Nolan’s last Batman movie, The Dark Knight, and consider it sick. The characterization of the Joker was so twisted, so nihilistic, and so intense, that I can easily imagine it feeding the fantasies of a disturbed individual like James Holmes. I’ve always wondered if portraying that character contributed in some way to Heath Ledger’s untimely demise. [LA replies: It’s overwhelmingly likely that it did.]

Another thing that ruined The Dark Knight for me was that even Batman had a faulty moral compass. He didn’t kill the Joker at several points when he had the chance, even though to do so would have saved countless lives, because he has sworn never to kill anyone. St. Thomas Aquinas himself would have killed the Joker, but Batman will not. That ruined the movie as far as I was concerned. I prefer a hero who’s not reluctant to do what needs to be done, à la Dirty Harry or Liam Neeson in “Taken.”

LA replies:

Right. So even as the Batman movies invoke extremely disturbing hyper-violence, in liberal manner they prohibit the supposedly moral hero from using deadly force to protect the innocent. So where is the great moral medicine that some VFR readers have claimed they find in these movies? (See the pro-Batman comments by Ben S. and Roland D. in this thread.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 21, 2012 12:48 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):