‘Dark Knight Trilogy’ an American phenomenon

By BRUCE HARDT

Decades past have given us many pop cultural movements in the art of film, among them “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.”

Granted, these films portrayed, lightly, the aesthetics of their respective decades, but they ultimately exist as gateways through which we visit fantastical places.

Over the past seven years, director Christopher Nolan has given us the “Dark Knight Trilogy,” consisting of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Like “Star Wars,” this trilogy spirits us away to a wondrous place, Gotham. An amalgamation of New York City and Chicago and a site of widespread urban warfare, Gotham is, in peace and turmoil, a contortion of our society.

The films appear moderate, raising points for and against issues like government surveillance, torture, corruption, vigilantism and class inequality. They make strides in melding these issues with entertaining motifs, equally dazzling and thought-provoking.

The “Dark Knight Trilogy” predominantly examines humanity, morality and the widespread influence of symbols. It repeatedly refers to Batman as incorruptible, with the name itself functioning as the hope of Gotham and as an immovable legend.

Pitted against villains like the Joker and Bane, Batman suffers for his mission and ideals, as do Gotham and its people. As his beloved city is broken down, we see the popcorn fun take a seat in favor of a layered narrative supported by realized characters and gorgeous cinematography.

While “Batman Begins” yielded little food for thought beyond its occasional mantra, its two sequels have been torn between the Republican and Democratic parties like ragdolls, and the movies’ apparent subtexts dissected endlessly.

Politically, “The Dark Knight” and its sequel have been labeled as promoting former President Bush and his maligned Patriot Act, demonizing the Occupy Movement and humanizing criminals to sensationalistic levels. Each argument has merits, but few are simple black-and-white.

In raising these issues, the trilogy provides support to them, in addition to its oft-subtle counterarguments. For example, in the third film, Bane holds the stock market hostage, while in his impassioned oratories throughout the film he condemns the wealthy for abusing their power.

Nolan’s trilogy in its basest form is a superhero saga, but unlike its flashy ilk, the series is so much more.

A twisting, multifaceted story, monumental performances, realistic effects and culturally significant themes all form the filmic movement of our time.

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Hardt would like to ask the Academy what’s its problem with Christopher Nolan?

Filed Under: Opinion

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