An Occupied Gotham (GF on the Dark Knight Rises)

Slight spoilers…

The Dark Knight Rises is not quite the kinetic wrap up I would have liked but it’s also not at all a total debacle. My central problems with this film are really the problems I’ve had with the Batman universe as Nolan has envisioned it almost from his first film out. DC’s caped crusader is unique among the foundational superheroes because, among other attributes, he is a true vigilante defined by his NOT being aligned with the broken and corrupt bureaucracy of the state barring a cordial relationship with the avuncular Commissioner James Gordon. The problem with Nolan’s films (particularly with the second and now, most egregiously, the third installment) is that Batman essentially becomes a cop with neat toys. An agent of the state who really doesn’t so much function outside the flawed structure of the law as he does abridge and override its corrupted avenues, much of the time with help from law enforcement itself.

This wouldn’t be very problematic were the Nolan films also not coded with very timely and often overt political references. The second film saw Batman battling the Joker–who here is more or less a madman-terrorist, all while angling towards retirement and eager to hand over the reins of justice to a politician running for office (the film was also released–just like this latest in the series–during a crucial national election in the U.S.) who seems a candidate for sainthood until he becomes an unhinged psychopath. To protect this and other sordid, problematic truths, several lies were told at the end of the film by the state, and Batman, in what Nolan sold as a heroic act, created and complied with these deceptions. The third film is really a prolonged comeuppance for these very same lies. But the messages communicated through some of the imagery, particularly towards the end of the film, is more than a little unsettling. The roots for the antagonist of this final film are found in Batman Begins, which saw a covert organization attempting to bring down a Gotham City they saw as too wealthy, too excessive and too corrupt for its own good– reflecting the general critique of the American empire as it exists today.

The remnants of this organization re-emerge in The Dark Knight Rises which culminates in a scene where violent criminals appearing in the garb and symbolic place of Occupy Wall Street types unleash hell on Gotham (which, importantly, is a visual amalgamation of several American cities among which I noticed New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and even Los Angeles) while facing off against an army of policemen led by Batman. And importantly, this war occurs on Wall Street, right outside the Stock Exchange! The use of the Occupy movement, (with its roots in economic and political upheaval, its symbol as an attempt at revolution) as a visual template for an evil that must be crushed by the state’s power structure–particularly as this structure is led by The Dark Knight himself–furthers the project of assimilating Batman into a system he was meant to operate outside of–and sometimes even against! Couched as all this is in Nolan’s typical, grave tones, it’s all rather depressing if you get to thinking about it.

The first film didn’t have to carry the burden of the zeitgeist and concentrated more on creating a lovely, thoughtful new vision for a stained series. The second film, despite the problems I’ve already discussed, had the late Heath Ledger’s astonishing performance that served the dual purpose of counteracting the sagging gravity of Nolan’s universe, while bringing Batman back to his comic book roots. The third film, robbed of both of these qualities, must sustain itself on the jaw-dropping accomplishment of Nolan’s craft–defined by marvelous IMAX-filmed set pieces and a sense of scale that only the movies can offer. In an age where cinema-going is under the assault of all kinds of media delivery devices, this is reason enough to fall for this film even if all the screen space and spectacle in the world can’t save a film whose messages nag at the conscience.

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155 Responses to “An Occupied Gotham (GF on the Dark Knight Rises)”

  1. GF, I took the liberty of creating a separate post for your comment because it absolutely needs this kind of space! You’ve said everything I would have liked to here and with remarkable concision. You’ve really touched on all the key points and this piece defines what ought to be the contours of a serious debate on the film. More stimulating than any other piece I’ve come across on the film so far.

    • That’s kind Satyam, thanks. Took the liberty myself of changing the image and title. :-)

      • as I was hoping you would!

      • By the way isn’t it an extremely fortuitous development for the Obama campaign to have the biggest summer movie have a villain called whose name is a homophone for Bain?!

      • Incidentally I will be watching it again during the week on IMAX as I wasn’t able to the first time around.

        • Couldn’t urge this more. What’s interesting and a bit distracting though is that the action sequences are the parts where the IMAX format is employed, so the aspect ratio changes whenever something big is about to happen. Which is fine except when Nolan is trying to build up to a moment or spring a surprise but the change in aspect ratio telegraphs his moves! A minor quibble though. This really is a spectacular vision that demands the IMAX format. Nolan really is obsessed with epic scale and he exploits it extraordinarily well here.

          • yes this is something I’m a bit ambivalent about but the film has to be experienced this way. Leaving aside the last hour or more of the film I loved the introductory sequence as well.

            On another note Anne Hathaway surprisingly really got the right pitch for the character.

          • Why “surprisingly”? She’s an excellent actress…

          • I assume you’ve seen “Rachel Getting Married,” but if not, I thought she was terrific there…

          • yes have seen this.. don’t remember it too well though..

          • haven’t thought much of her.. perhaps I haven’t seen the right films..

          • Yes she was very effective. Also found Joseph Gordon-Levitt quite strong.

          • And yeah that was a flat-out amazing opening action sequence.

          • This and Dargis’ are the only reviews I’ve read so far. I’m quite disappointed to read about the commandeering of this sort of imagery in the service of a “statist” message. (Your broader point about the problem with Nolan’s vision is one of the most insightful things anyone has ever said on the trilogy.) By the way, given that (in the comics), Bane is created by Ra’s al Ghul, a Middle Eastern potentate of sorts, his deployment to discredit populist movements is a bit, um, rich.

          • “By the way, given that (in the comics), Bane is created by Ra’s al Ghul”

            that connection is made here as well..

          • rockstar Says:

            easily the best continuatiation of previous two version which is a very difficult task indeed even godfather 3 failed to do that

            personally i loved the batman begins more for its simplicity but ya they have been able to get continuity from first two parts especially the new characters which are in line with first two pats and ya its a visual delight

            it has lot of cliches but here in india people to are loving that bollywoodish sort of climax the only problem being length (i doubt this will be end it has the potential to be more epecially given the emergence of robin in a much more subtle way )

            q: on that middle eastern part….guy wear mask which can be sort of translator …creates war load type of governance and has been trained in terrain and is extreme and raises army …..these refrences do remind of afghanistan

        • rockstar Says:

          *continuation*

          infact loved both female lead

          hathway looks sunning do amazing stunts and even acts well with presence and other one continues her destruction act with similar characterisation of inception though wih lesser screen presence

      • mksrooney Says:

        I love it how you can be so concise!!

        Respect.

  2. Spoilers here..

    You make exactly the right point when you talk about how this Batman trilogy moves him towards ever greater institutionalization in some ways. And to this degree the film’s almost equal depiction of corporate greed as well as left revolutionary excess (manipulated by Bane to add to it!) with Batman splitting the difference in a sense and trying to reclaim Gotham for the people is basically the old liberal argument about how the system doesn’t need to be overturned and simply needs to be ‘balanced’ better between left and right. Batman as centrist if you will. Of course there is that ‘Christological’ gesture at the end (even if it ends happily for him). Some reviewers justly felt that Batman’s character isn’t as developed here or he isn’t as front and center but in a way he’s like an important ‘president’ in this system. Simply the apex of the right liberal institutional order as opposed to its ultimate outlaw. In this sense the first film was most truly mythic, the second one was completely ‘secularized’, this last part tries to restore the balance to a degree but since it also rationalizes Batman completely the myth becomes a fairly ‘mundane’ one involving the martyr and so on. Put differently the true ‘darkness’ or disturbing nature of the Batman trope is kept well at a distance.

    Nonetheless I still liked this film more than the second one. The first one might still be the best one. But there’s an interesting irony here. Each film can be seen as one more attempt to almost ‘avoid’ the authentic Batman encounter. In the first film he ‘becomes’ only towards the end. In the third film once again it’s a similar sort of journey. It is only in the second film where the charismatic figure is truly confronted but even here the Joker is the scene stealer and Batman himself is part of a police procedural. The Joker is always this other side of Batman’s own ‘dark’ excess. This is never clear in the film and by extension the trilogy.

    • The entire trilogy has really been about the power of symbolic gestures and icons (itself an important political statement given much of the symbolic charge of the past decade and specifically that of the past two presidencies) and in this sense I’d agree that the truly mythic (or at least the acknowledgement of the same) is most overtly explored in the first and third films.

      I think though that my own estimation of the respective films in the trilogy match the order of their release. Liked the first one the best and the second one more than this last. There simply isn’t anything in this last one to match the mesmeric force of the Joker, not to mention this last film, while nicely tying together the trilogy as a cohesive whole, after a point battles demons already slain and retreads territory that the first one addressed more than adequately…

  3. Great set of thoughts GF and said in a concise manner. I agree with you that such pieces of work are really a great defenUse against all the alternative outlets that are threatening cinema. This is absolutely to be enjoyed in a big screen cinema and IMAX no less. The bridges blowing up definitely reminded one of Manhattan.

  4. SPOILER….

    I think Bolly-fans will get a kick out of that climactic moment involving the nuke…because, and it may just be me, but I was reminded of Agent Vinod!

  5. These are great set of throughts GF. I am still partial towards TDK as the better film, if not anything, at least for the scale and ambitions compared to Batman Begins (which is surely more detailed and accomplished more successfully). I wasn’t exactly into comic books so the change in Batman’s characterization doesn’t bother me as much, and if you get past it, there is just so much in these films.
    This film though felt like Nolan had to go the Avengers route for the most part and give the fans a number of high points they were surely expecting. Selling out maybe a hard phrase to use here but the intent to play to the galleries was surely there. Despite that, I think there is enough evidence to support your reading of the film (and about the first two films, it was always well established).

  6. TDK is infinitely a better film than TDKR but it’s still a mind-blowing wrap up of christopher nolan’s batman trilogy. I wish we saw more of batman, though

  7. This was a superb piece GF. Though i will be watching the film today (sadly can’t see it in IMAX as the ticket prices are pretty high in Bombay and i am short on my pocketmoney), this was exactly the kind of a piece i wanted to read before watching the film. On that note, i believe apart from Nolan’s films only Burton’s Batman Returns perfectly amalgamated the comic book ethos and political undertones- found it having a similar tone to the Alan Moore’s Batman comic

  8. Btw this is trending 9.2 on IMDB, slightly ahead of TDK at 8.9, everybody is just loving it.

  9. I think a blue ray copy of the Dark Knight Trilogy is in order when it releases. Warner Bros is going to make some serious dough here. Justifies their faith in tent pole movies.

    • wow, this is ‘eye-opening’.. didn’t know this! In other words the only one to watch in NYC is the Loews and the only suburban one is the New Rochelle screen.

  10. DogChasingACar Says:

    A good view on one of the most awaited movie. I agree with most of the points you have made. However, the shooting for the wall street scenes was done before the Occupy Wall street movement. Either Nolan envisioned it from the early sparks of Occupy Wall Street or was a sheer coincidence.

    I have heard lot of Nolan fans saying it was not up to the expectations. The ending was bollywood inspired etc etc. But I believe this movie was by far the best continuation of the previous two versions. No doubt none of the villains could match the intellect of Joker, but as a package for story, music, visual effects this was a great movie.

    I am waiting for the Bluray Trilogy Preorder.

    • I think, though, that even if these gestures were not intentional, the central problem still stands inasmuch as the series and particularly this last film really has Batman function as an arm of the state. The fact that history after the conception of this film pushes this reading only makes things more problematic.

  11. Finally saw this on IMAX screen in Mumbai…Nolan dishes out an epic spectacle like no other superhero film in recent memory…a fitting end to the trilogy !

    For those who are yet to see this, would definitely recommend viewing on IMAX.

  12. It is an interesting take. But, totally missing the point. It is all great that the original Batman was supposed to be about being able to function outside the law. But, the director is at his own liberty to use the character Batman to convey his own message. And, Nolan did a fantastic job. It is not about Batman but the people and the society

    Masked vigilante are only required when it is war time. Otherwise, you should want elected officials be hailed as heroes! That is what democracy is and that is what true freedom is! They will show copy cats of Batman in Dark Knight. Is that a good inspiration? Definitely NOT. In the movie, Batman did not think so. Nolan does not think so. Society needs heroes without a mask. Nolan was right on

  13. is the movie available in torrent? hindi films come on torrent the day they r released but these god damn hollywood films dnt leak so easy.
    hate going to watch a film in a hall

  14. @ Q
    there r a lot of reasons.
    a cinema hall is a public space.watching a movie for me is a personal experience…like reading a book….i dont brook invasion in to my private space.suppose a scene is going on which i dont find funny maybe i am looking for something else in it…but the audience will laugh….now that laughter for me is an invasion….it spoils my liberty to watch the film my own way….watching a movie in a hall is a collective experience and ur mind has to make compromises….u bargain ur individuality.
    then i may like to rewind and go through some specific scenes again and again.like watching annie hall….i rewinded the scene towards the end where woody allen(after being snubbed by his gf)….inadvertantly smashes a few cars.the police man comes and demands licence……the interaction between him and the police man is a masterpiece scene.
    i saw that scene fucking 10 times before moving on with the movie.now in a hall i will not get the liberty to do that.
    then there r dailogues i love to repeat….like in gulaal there were many one liners by piyush mishra which became profound only on second or third watch.
    lastly, i m a loner by nature and temperament.dont like seeing new faces…makes me guarded.when i watch a movie in my bedroom on a laptop i can be vulnerable and receptive.i can do a headstand ..if i feel like and watch it…in a hall i need to behave…that pisses me.
    lot of other things

    • Thanks anjali — I now have a better sense of what you meant…although, I will say that a film’s visuals are often best appreciated on the larger screens of a cinema (even apart from the fact that many pirated prints play havoc with the lighting etc.).

      • I am the exact opposite. I try really hard to watch a film in theater and go to torrents only in extreme cases. The whole claustrophobic nature of a darkened room and the big screen etc still hold sacred for me!

  15. Alex adams Says:

    “when i watch a movie in my bedroom on a laptop i can be vulnerable and receptive.i can do a headstand ..if i feel like and watch it…in a hall i need to behave”
    My my…that’s the gal…
    Lol @ headstand … :-)

  16. Whenever i think of Batman and the joker and the problematic nature of their relationship….i remember the poem Ardhsatya(half truth)….from the movie by govin nilahani.though the movie was brilliant…the poem was a typical example of a paradoxical riddle.to quote a part of that poem:

    Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
    sab kuchh s’maan hoga kya?
    Ek palde mein napunsakta(joker),
    ek palde mein paurush(batman),
    aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
    ardh satya.(human conscience)

    here taraazu ka kaanta…is the “conscience” inside us which decides. because of the very structure of the taraazu……..taraazu ka kaanta(conscinece)…..has to be in the middle of the two sides(truth and false)……now something which lies right in the middle of the two polarities of truth(batman) and false(joker)…..is half truth and half false….half joker and half batman.
    therefore our conscience cannot be the judge of what is truth and what is false…..because it is itself a part of this chain….and a half truth(our conscience)….is no truth(the dictionary meaning of the word half truth is ….”a lie”)….human conscience is a big hoax…is what the poet trying to say.hence,the relationship between right and wrong and batman n joker will always remain problematic and paradoxical.

    • Anjali: your intriguing comment calls out for me to add the figure of Two-Face here, for the “taraazu” itself.

      • @ Q
        yes…conscience is two faced…that is another way of representing the problematic nature of human conscience when pitted against right and wrong.
        Jacques Dirrida….often explained it by giving the example of an anagram.anagram is a picture….which if look at it one way will appear as a candle burning…and if u look another way(perspective shift)…will appear as two faces opposite each other.he said the candle burning is the dominant view..and two faces opposite each other is the marginal view.when the perspective shifts….two faces opposite each other will become the dominant view…and the burning candle will become the marginal view.so one cannot fix what the reality of the picture is about…….which version is the real one? what is real?batman or joker? our conscience is always in a dilemma …..it is a PLAY of shifting perspectives.the only thing real and constant( amidst changing pictures)..is the “PLAY”.
        as osho said in an interview….
        interview: bhagwan….do yu ever take anything seriously?
        osho: yes
        interviewer:what?
        osho: jokes(play)….apart from jokes i dont thing there is anything serious in this world.
        i love osho….was the greatest philosopher to have born.and i say this after reading the existentialist sartre and the post modernist derrida.he had an intuitive knowledge…while the philosophers were lost in logic

    • But aren’t we assuming what is right and what is wrong from start? I think people who are doing wrong probably think they are correct..It is the world’s average view that it is wrong. So for example pre marital affair was considered bad some 50 years back in India but now it is OK. The definition of right and wrong keep changing. The point is it is not easy to define right or wrong..and to be exactly middle is even tougher. We may call it symbolic but nothing like that exists.

      • Re : But aren’t we are assuming what is right and what is wrong from start? I think people who are doing wrong probably think they are correct..

        Yep … What is known as ‘Error Loop’

  17. so many films and biopics have been made on historical figures.but i fail to understand why has not a single film been made yet on osho?…neither in the east nor west.
    he is such an interesting material for a film.the film could focus not on the cult and the movement he created…but will explain…who was this man?what was his psychology?why was he so strange and charismatic?why is there is so much hatred and negativity against him?
    it cud even be partly fictional….just the essence of his topsy turvy,enigmatic,rebellious personality should be preserved intact.
    to even call him a rebel would be wrong.he was a rebel who lived in the lap of luxury and owned 93 rolls royces! he rebelled against rebellion in a way!

  18. a strong dissent on the film in the New Republic:

    The Dark Gnat: How Christopher Nolan’s Embarrassing Seriousness Ruined Batman

    Isaac Chotiner
    July 19, 2012 | 3:21 pm

    Christoper Nolan is currently cinema’s master of foreboding. In Memento, he managed to convey anxious tension throughout a movie that was literally playing in reverse, and thus one whose “conclusion” was already known. With Insomnia, he trapped his characters in a perpetually-light but somehow gloomy Alaska, where menace seemed to lurk in the fog. And in his three Batman films, Nolan—aided along by Hans Zimmer’s and James Newton Howard’s overbearing but powerful score—has created a freaky, atmospheric Gotham where life appears permanently on the verge of going awry. Only David Fincher, among modern directors, is more adept at causing unease in his audience about what is coming next.

    But absent some measure of subtlety and irony, foreboding can easily morph into portentousness. It is therefore no coincidence that Nolan, who has an evident weakness for grand philosophizing about good vs. evil and heroism vs. villainy, is the most portentous filmmaker we have. Asked about the trilogy whose final chapter, The Dark Knight Rises, opens Friday, Nolan said that he set out to answer questions such as, “What gives us fear? What gives us hope?” Sometimes, in other words, he seems to forget he is making superhero movies.

    But it’s not just that the comic book plot of The Dark Knight Rises is inadequate to the themes Nolan wishes to address. The biggest problem with his latest film, the weakest of the series, is that the director’s obsessive gesturing at philosophical themes has overwhelmed the other requirements of successful filmmaking: plot cohesion, believable dialogue, tight editing.

    None of these shortcomings is likely to matter much to viewers. Indeed, the bloated running time (164 minutes) and characters who seem more interested in speechifying than survival or self-interest are actually liable to thrill Nolan’s fans. The film’s inevitable success will be the latest evidence that nothing pleases audiences more than the belief that the film they are watching is grappling with life’s Big Questions. Christopher Nolan’s genius has been to make movies that flatter the audience by inviting it to participate in the discussion.

    “BATMAN IS THE hero Gotham deserves but not the one it needs right now.” So says Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) during the finale of The Dark Knight (2008), the previous entry in the series. The problem with this line, and with the scores of others like it in this latest film, is that I have no idea what it means.

    The Dark Knight, which was quite good for the first 90 minutes of its running time, eventually bogged down in ridiculous plot twists and ham-handed lessons in right vs. wrong. (Harvey Dent, the crusading district attorney, is so angry that the love of his life was killed that he decides to join forces with…her killer.) Eventually it is decided that the city of Gotham will not be able to handle the truth about Dent’s turn to the dark side. Batman is cast as the villain instead, which presumably would also have been hard for the citizens of Gotham to accept, but never mind. Sometimes heroes must bear the greatest burden of all. (Nolan’s scriptwriting style is infectious.)

    The reason for recounting this creaky plot is that it is used as the set-up for the latest film, with the city of Gotham peaceful 8 years later. But a new super-villain, Bane, played with great menace by Tom Hardy, is intent on bringing Gotham down. He wants to return the city to the people, or destroy it, or both. The politics of the movie are muddled and confusing, but Bane does desire to humiliate the wealthy, and neuter or destroy the police. One of the many amusing aspects of the plot is that Bane and his henchmen, all psychopathic murderers and terrorists, are angrily moralistic that the police lied to Gothamites about Dent. These villains certainly have a strange ethical code—murder good, lying bad—but I think here, as elsewhere, we can glimpse Nolan the freshman philosopher peeking out from behind the camera. (Nolan obviously does not believe that lying for the greater good is on par with murder, but merely raising phony ethical dilemmas has an obvious appeal to him.)

    Bane’s plan, in addition to isolating Gotham and taking the entire city hostage, is to lure Bruce Wayne out of retirement. The reasons for this, too complicated to explicate, have to do with the characters’ backstories. This in turn forces Bane to utter dialogue whose weightiness is undoubtedly the X factor that every fan-boy craves. “The shadows betray you because they belong to me,” he notes at one point, and we are undoubtedly supposed to nod and appreciate whatever symbolism we presume Nolan to be imparting.

    The rest of the film concerns Batman’s battles with Bane and other assorted villains, his romancing of Catwoman (well played by Anne Hathaway), and the helpful advice he gets from the film’s voices of wisdom. I counted five major characters whose raison d’être is to lecture Wayne and the audience on the “good” values that contrast with Bane’s. (My respect for my readers prevents me from translating the French.) The utter seriousness of the movie eventually saps the performances, too. Bale is a wonderful actor who can be funny, but he is so buttoned-down and serious here that you’d hardly ever guess it. In one dramatic scene, he whispers all his lines, presumably to convey their weight. Meanwhile, Hardy’s character, Bane, speaks through a mask for the entirety of the movie, distorting his voice.

    Prior to the film’s release when test audiences reported difficulty understanding the character, Nolan loftily informed the studio that he would only consider changing the audio slightly because, as one executive said, “Chris wants the audience to catch up and participate rather than push everything at them. He doesn’t dumb things down. You’ve got to pedal faster to keep up.” One is tempted to inquire why Nolan perceives a link between incomprehensibility and intelligence. (Indeed, Bane is not the only character who is hard to understand. Several other actors have trouble being heard over blasting music.) But it is more important to note the backhanded compliment to the audience, as if watching the movie is in itself some sort of intellectual achievement.

    What is surprising for a director as talented as Nolan is how sloppy much of the movie is. Twists occur with little plausibility or coherence, characters appear in places they have no reason to be, and a crucial feat of physical strength is premised on the idea that Batman cannot do something that a small child was able to accomplish years before. This particular absurdity can be explained by Nolan’s tiresome eastern spirituality (“you must journey inward,” Batman was informed in the first film.) With a near Gandhian focus on mind-body distinctions, Nolan sets forth the opinion that any physical feat can be accomplished if one has the necessary inner strength. This may be risible (or worse) as morality, but it does add a dose of pretentiousness to Nolan’s appeal.

    And it’s that appeal that is set to conquer all this weekend. Nolan cannily understands that the last thing an audience wants is to feel condescended to (“condescend” being one of those words that is misused in the script.) The Dark Knight sparked an endless amount of commentary over its supposed relevance to the Bush years, and this latest film has sparked related murmurings on the potential similarities between Occupy Wall Street and Bane’s gang of thugs. But don’t be fooled. Taking Nolan seriously as a social commentator is giving him more credit than he deserves. He has nothing to tell us about good or evil, other than the idea that evildoing and darkness are by definition profound. I remember being 17 when The Matrix was released, and partaking in endless conversations about “what is real” before grasping that it was these chats that explained the movie’s success much more than the slow-motion fights did. Audiences want one thing more than entertainment: They want to feel respected. If only Christopher Nolan actually respected them.

    • Philip French has a very different take:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jul/22/dark-knight-rises-french-review/print

      and this passage offers the most plausible reading for rescuing the film’s contradictory politics:

      “What faces Gotham is a nihilistic movement spearheaded by Bane and assisted by capitalist interests and bankers. It starts with an assault on the Stock Exchange, continues with the theft of a nuclear device, and leads up to a familiar countdown to annihilation. Bane represents himself as a liberator but he’s really a destroyer, a deceiver of a weak, easily misled populace. The contemporary parallels are clear, though the underlying politics are somewhat confused. One supposes that Nolan’s views are not unlike Shakespeare’s (or Dickens’s) – a loathing of people acting as a mob, a deep suspicion of politicians and a belief in the preservation of social order in a fluctuating world.”

      Of course with Shakespeare such moments often complicate the central strands of his plot without ever contradicting them or without the ‘whole’ ever becoming confused. It is quite true that it is impossibly hard to pin down Shakespeare on any given side of the equation but part of the trick here is that the political plays (the most relevant ones here) can sustain a number of different readings, plausibly or otherwise, and each perspective always appears to be completely consistent. With this third Batman film the problem is that providing the same sort of consistency at that elementary superficial level is hard. Nonetheless I do think it fair to suggest that the Dickens analogy works better here than the Shakespeare one. To this degree there has often been a debate about the former’s politics. On the one hand he offers very clear indictments of his system in very many ways. On the other hand he is greatly frightened by any remotely resembling a revolutionary crowd. In sum Dickens is the system’s great critic who somehow expects all the reforms to happen ‘within’ and who is always unnerved by the prospect of more dramatic structural changes. This split worldview is perhaps not very dissonant with Nolan’s politics.

      Again from the same piece:

      “Anyway, Bale remains a strong moral presence.”

      I quite agree with this and this again provides a common thread that runs between Dickens and Nolan. The assumption of some ‘normal’/normative moral subject (gaze) who can forever mark off the excesses on both the right and left. Again, and as I suggested earlier in the thread, this is about a certain brand of liberal politics which always imagines itself to be on firm ground when staking out the center. To be clear about this it’s not that I necessarily have a problem with the ‘results’ of such a stance. I am much more skeptical about the ‘grounds’ for such reasoning.

    • In this instance I see the overall point but I still disagree with most of the specifics offered here. Either totally or at least I can’t go quite as far with the criticism as Chotiner does.

      But again what’s fascinating is that in all the reviews and even the ones that picked up on the revolutionary tropes no one has really pointed out the confusion and/or compromise at the heart of Nolan’s politics here. GF has done so superbly but no one else. This is indicative of the overall hegemony of the position Nolan represents. Again most of the reviewers are good liberals too, quite happy to satirize or even attack the 1% but even more scared of the 99%! We see this incidentally over the last 3-4 years where relatively mild critiques of the 1% by Obama (at least relative to historical standards.. the Wall St types would have jumped out of their windows after hearing some of the FDR or even TR rhetoric!) invited these hysterical reactions and to the extent where many think his policies have not been too harsh on them but the rhetoric has been! In the same sense the media too, always in bed with many of the same players, has been more than sympathetic to this view. The point here is that any kind of questioning of the way the present system is structured, even in the loosest, mildest sense (what would have happened if Obama had nationalized the banks as many thought he should have done?!) invites great fear and resentment. Of course the bankers are not entirely paranoid either. Because in one sense Obama has governed as a good liberal, on the other hand his liberalism often seems like a way station to more radical reform. Or at least something he would like to accomplish in an ideal situation.

    • finally a piece that confronts these questions:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2012/jul/20/dark-knight-trilogy-godfather

      “So which is it: critique of late capitalism or takedown of mob rule? Is Bane an Occupy populist or an anarchist demagogue? And if billionaire Bruce Wayne is a one-percenter, how can Batman be a defender of the people of Gotham?

      That we are even asking these questions is a sign of the sinewy ambition of Nolan’s series, which has consistently taken a thermometer to the fevered brow of post-9/11 America. “

  19. I must say this movie, in USA, is being overshadowed by the shootings at the premiere of the film.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Aurora_shooting

    sad to see some pathetic people taking innocent lives :(

  20. Taking potshots at the so called 1% is the new flavor of columnists these days, even though a large chunk of taxes are already paid by them.

  21. Amitabh Bachchan ‏@SrBachchan

    T 814 – ‘The Dark Night Rises’ … story and lengt almost a Hindi film … action sequences, incredible .. !!

    • rockstar Says:

      some high points though:

      1) batman indulging in space war

      2)nolan spoofing matyrdom in climax and so do the concept of heroism…masked as analogy and here so called billionaire was capable of buying those expensive gadget toys

      3) masked as analogy and how hollow it is when robin says to batman i don’t need a mask to stand upto people…remember the guy who was judge here for hardy terrorised others in dark knight with mass…its only law that will take its course at the end of day

      some unclear fuzziness:

      1) batman’s father in batman begins was killed in abram Lincoln mode and that made him to go against system including killing his father’s killer and hiding that from law and the same guy suddenly transformed into pillar of system

      2) characterization of tom hardy and the political uneveness where he laid emphasis chaos, warload type of governance(a case against democracy) and at the same times he advocates socialism in support of that against capitalism

      3) distortion of batman and his much lesser screen presence

  22. TDKR now rates a strong 87 % on Rotten Tomatoes based on about 245 reviews, 50 of those being top critics.

  23. My 2 cents – a layman’s take; one without the ‘burden’ of being a comic fan-boy:

    http://reviews.allaboutbelgaum.com/2012/07/24/the-dark-knight-rises-and-how/

    • rockstar Says:

      fantastic review again and must say i would take satyam and gf write up’s over any indian reviewer except for one (bhardwaj rangan)

      glad you mentioned jodhpur and indian connection as a replacement of afghan-middle east sort of terrain…few sequences are direct lip off of various indian movies to ….

  24. Great review. Loved your signaling of the metaphors in the movie. Though Nolan did say that he didn’t set out to mimic the Occupy Wall street movement that everybody is referring to. But agree with you, it’s a visual splendour and that it’s basically a CN and Zimmer show.

  25. Christopher Nolan’s farewell note to Batman

    http://www.totalfilm.com/news/read-christopher-nolan-s-farewell-to-batman-here

    The Dark Knight Rises may be wowing audiences all over the globe, but for Christopher Nolan, the sensation is bittersweet, marking as it does his last involvement with Bruce Wayne and chums.

    The director has provided the foreword to forthcoming book The Art And Making Of The Dark Knight Rises, and it sums up his feelings concerning his time on the franchise rather succinctly. It even had us welling up a little! You can check it out, below…

    “Alfred. Gordon. Lucius. Bruce . . . Wayne. Names that have come to mean so much to me. Today, I’m three weeks from saying a final good-bye to these characters and their world. It’s my son’s ninth birthday. He was born as the Tumbler was being glued together in my garage from random parts of model kits. Much time, many changes. A shift from sets where some gunplay or a helicopter were extraordinary events to working days where crowds of extras, building demolitions, or mayhem thousands of feet in the air have become familiar.”

    “People ask if we’d always planned a trilogy. This is like being asked whether you had planned on growing up, getting married, having kids. The answer is complicated. When David and I first started cracking open Bruce’s story, we flirted with what might come after, then backed away, not wanting to look too deep into the future. I didn’t want to know everything that Bruce couldn’t; I wanted to live it with him.”

    “I told David and Jonah to put everything they knew into each film as we made it. The entire cast and crew put all they had into the first film. Nothing held back. Nothing saved for next time. They built an entire city. Then Christian and Michael and Gary and Morgan and Liam and Cillian started living in it. Christian bit off a big chunk of Bruce Wayne’s life and made it utterly compelling. He took us into a pop icon’s mind and never let us notice for an instant the fanciful nature of Bruce’s methods.”

    “I never thought we’d do a second – how many good sequels are there? Why roll those dice? But once I knew where it would take Bruce, and when I started to see glimpses of the antagonist, it became essential. We re-assembled the team and went back to Gotham. It had changed in three years. Bigger. More real. More modern. And a new force of chaos was coming to the fore. The ultimate scary clown, as brought to terrifying life by Heath.”

    “We’d held nothing back, but there were things we hadn’t been able to do the first time out – a Batsuit with a flexible neck, shooting on Imax. And things we’d chickened out on – destroying the Batmobile, burning up the villain’s blood money to show a complete disregard for conventional motivation. We took the supposed security of a sequel as license to throw caution to the wind and headed for the darkest corners of Gotham.”

    “I never thought we’d do a third – are there any great second sequels? But I kept wondering about the end of Bruce’s journey, and once David and I discovered it, I had to see it for myself. We had come back to what we had barely dared whisper about in those first days in my garage. We had been making a trilogy. I called everyone back together for another tour of Gotham. Four years later, it was still there. It even seemed a little cleaner, a little more polished. Wayne Manor had been rebuilt. Familiar faces were back—a little older, a little wiser . . . but not all was as it seemed.”

    “Gotham was rotting away at its foundations. A new evil bubbling up from beneath. Bruce had thought Batman was not needed anymore, but Bruce was wrong, just as I had been wrong. The Batman had to come back. I suppose he always will.”

    “Michael, Morgan, Gary, Cillian, Liam, Heath, Christian . . . Bale. Names that have come to mean so much to me. My time in Gotham, looking after one of the greatest and most enduring figures in pop culture, has been the most challenging and rewarding experience a filmmaker could hope for. I will miss the Batman. I like to think that he’ll miss me, but he’s never been particularly sentimental.”

  26. “I will miss the Batman. I like to think that he’ll miss me, but he’s never been particularly sentimental.”

    A fitting concluding line to a terrific farewell piece by a man who has given us the greatest superhero trilogy of all time !

    • It’s definitely the most important such work on a superhero. But as a single film my favorite is the most recent X-Men. Because it seems to me that this film gets the balance right in very many ways. Nolan runs into the problem of simply trying to make Batman too ‘metaphysical’. Not something that originated with him of course, at least as far as Batman goes, but he belongs to that school. And so even as we might debate the films on various grounds there is something lost in making a superhero that ‘ponderous’ (this is again true for Miller or Moore as well). In a way it’s also the latecomer’s burden. Superhero plots were always suggestive even in a more ‘innocent’ age but they were ultimately popular entertainment. Over time though and specially in the 80s a lot of of franchises just became too burdened by the tradition and decided to go ‘metaphysical’. Batman is the obvious example but you also had the grey Hulk era and so forth. Don’t get me wrong. The Nolan trilogy is still one I’ll keep revisiting (watch the current film a second time on an authentic IMAX screen tonight!). So I do like what he’s done here. But the X-Men film (the recent prequel) captured I think the heart of the comic book experience as it evolved over decades better than just about any other film (though again I do like many others).

      • On this subject some years ago there was a blog member called Kash (knew him from NG). Think he showed up here too early on (not sure). But he had a phenomenal knowledge of this stuff.

      • Agree with this completely. X-Men First Class is my favorite comic book movie as well. Aside from everything else the way history is rather seamlessly integrated into the vision here is the closest movies have come to doing what Alan Moore did with Watchmen.

        I would actually also take Burton’s first Batman movie over the Nolan films (but that’s just me) because Burton to me got closer to achieving the sort of balance between investing the universe with a measure of seriousness while also avoiding the kind of tedious “rationalizing” that Nolan is often preoccupied with when building his world. This was one of the main problems even in inception where everything was explained into the ground. Also quite like the look of Burton’s Gotham City which, again, avoids tired realism for a distinctive kind of Gothic expressionism.

        And on a side-note much as Hans Zimmer deserves praise for his impressive and now iconic score, I’d easily take Danny Elfman’s work in the first Batman.

        • You make a fair case for Burton though I could never quite forgive the Keaton choice here!

          “This was one of the main problems even in inception where everything was explained into the ground”

          I think this is a problem Nolan has anyway. Even in Prestige (still my favorite film of his and one I’ve revisited quite a bit) every last angle receives an explanation. In a film about magicians (and indirectly about cinema) it wouldn’t have been so bad to leave a little mystery somewhere! But this gets to the heart of Nolan’s tension. He always has this debit side where the ‘illusion’ is always explained. so you get the elaborate construction that explains how the illusion is created and so forth. This obviously offers a commentary on cinema as well. All the mechanics that go into creating magic on screen. However what Nolan neglects in this entire equation is that once that magic is created or the ‘result’ is obtained if you will, the work at that point is released from its ‘construction’. In other words it’s not just the sum of the parts that went into its making. It acquires a certain transcendence. One can certainly understand how this ‘illusion’ for created but it has by then acquired a life of its own. And this is of course true for any art form. Which is why Plato was forever suspicious of art. Once it is created it becomes ‘life-like’. The weak understanding here has been to suggest that he didn’t like art because it was a ‘copy’ of life but the more profound interpretation is that he was nervous about the fact that this ‘copy’ could then substitute for life (or that life itself was the ‘arch-copy’!)!

          In any case your Inception example is again the right one. Because here too there is just so much elaborate ‘architecture’ to the dreamscapes that it destroys a great deal of the fluidity, ‘associative’ power and ultimate enigma one associates with them. To this degree Insomnia might be the film where he most gets away from all of this. It might be odd to state this for a film which is an investigation and concerned with clues and so on but I think this ‘plot’ oddly releases Nolan (perhaps?) from his larger metaphysical burdens in just about every other film. Perhaps the remake aspect ‘tamed’ him in this sense.

          • My sense has always been that Keaton was a strong Batman, but a slightly offensive Bruce Wayne!

          • yes, was referring to the latter..

          • Right, and contrast Inception with Shutter Island, and you see that the latter is a lot more mysterious and troubling; it’s all rather mechanical in Inception, or no more mysterious than a jigsaw puzzle…

        • This was a fantastic comment GF. But actually my fav Batman film is the 2nd Burton film- Batman Returns- it had the right mixture of comic book cheesiness and political undertones

      • Agreed with every bit here Satyam. X- Men : First Class was brilliant though I equally like the 2nd film- ‘X-2′ (if anyone still remembers it). On that note i believe ‘V For Vendetta’ was a really interesting film- liked it a lot

        • I found “V for Vendetta” pretty disappointing, especially given Alan Moore’s moody classic comic. I haven’t seen the Watchmen-film…

          • Q, i have not read the source material of V so cannot comment abt it. The one graphic book adaptation i loved was Rodriguez’ “Sin City”- Miller should be proud of the film- having read the comic, i thought it was the faithful adaptation possible

  27. rockstar Says:

    recent x men was indeed the best of lot and its not the samuel jackson one but the recent one …infact will take it over avengers to easily

    will brought an indian connection(shyamlan) with samuel jackson again though not entirely indian …. what you guys make out of unbreakable which gave him lot of recognition….i would rate as the best science fiction cum superhero movie to have come out in recent time

  28. I would say sixth sense was the most commercially successful but even I prefer Unbreakable for pure cinematic pleasure.

  29. Just finished watching Dark Knight Returns.
    The best way to describe this film would be to quote the BAAP of all the writers William Shakespeare.
    “Dark Knight Returns is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury….signifying nothing.”
    And now I take a solemn vow,that never ever…under any circumstance… under threat,inducement or out of masochistic perversity…will I watch another Nolan film again!Amen.

  30. I am catching it on a proper IMAX screen for the second time this weekend. Thank you Chris Nolan!

  31. The movie Avtaar had great audio visuals too… but it did the courtesy of having a story that touched a chord…not some mumbo jumbo moralistic crap about good vs evil done in a ham handed way. Moreover… Avataar transported the audience to a different world….I never felt I am in Gotham while watching Dark Knight Rises.And I am not comparing Dark Knight Rises to an Oscar winning movie here(Avtaar did not win an oscar in that department…I am not being an arty snob.)
    I would have reserved my adverse comments if this movie was even 5% as good as Avataar.

    For me the word “Nolan” replaces “Idiot” in the dictionary.

    • Anjali, I can understand that u may not have liked Nolan’s Batman films but don’t tell me u found absolutely nothing worthwhile in Memento, Inception, Prestige or Insomnia

      • Believe it or not this was my first Nolan film and I had high hopes on him.I heard people calling him a genius and all that and I wondered….. there must be something unique in him.I do not particularly like action genre (unless it is a really great classic film)..still I thought lets watch it for this guy Nolan and I must say I was totally disappointed.

        • Anjali, now i get ur point (almost all girls dislike action films). But Nolan has made films apart from the action genre- u should definitely see his Memento, Prestige or Inception- trust me u will change ur stance on him. BTW Anjali, where are u based and are u studying or working professionally?

  32. i am currently in delhi preparin fr CA exams(last stage).but i dont really know where i am from. i am a punjabi sikh,was born in amritsar but since the age of 5 till 17 was in patna (where my father was posted)…so i am a bihari i guess.i was in bihar back when bihar was the most nasty place in india…with lalu and his jungle raaj….creating grisly headlines.but i love patna and consider it my hometown(since i dont have one)
    btw u must be studying mbbs from what i hv gathered.

  33. lucknow! beautiful city! great culture….since i love urdu poetry like crazy…some great poets r from lucknow….majaz(the guy who wrote aawara…considered to b the best 20th century nazm)…khumar barabankavi(he was a friend of osho like harivansh roy bachchan)…lot of u may nt be knowing this but harivansh roy bachchan was deeply enamoured by osho and has written prefaces for some of osho’s books published in hindi.then there is the greatest of them all meer taqi meer(the guy i think was the greatest urdu poet after ghalib)….meer lived the last years of his life in lucknow from 1782 onwards….though he has some unsavoury things to say about lucknow culture and poets as he was originally from delhi and was forced to leave it and was never accepted in the lucknavi mushaira circuit.
    love the city.
    it is sad the way young kids r taught keats and wordsworth and yeats in schools but no one bother about our own great poets.
    i think it was bernard shaw who said in his play “man and superman”….”a person who cannot be a master of his mother tongue…can never b a master of any other language.”

    • funny thing is all great art films…from seventh seal by bergman to many made by ray…and all over the world by other directors…have been based on vernacular literature.
      but we disrespect it…have no time for it.

  34. Alex adams Says:

    Have been tryin to ‘look away’ from TDKR till now-also at my end, this movie will he in the cinemas for ages-was planning to watch TDKR sooner or later ultimately ( other stuff like Bollywood is rare and short lasting in cinemas )
    But anjali: u have ripped TDKR apart in your own inimitable way :-)
    Also seems girls may not like this one too much overall
    Btw I’m sure u checked it in the big screen -(don’t think u could view it online?

    • of course i saw the movie on my laptop…downloaded it today,where else is one supposed to watch a movie?
      sadly,the only version that was available was dubbed in hindi…. that too 4 days after the movie release (shame on u pirates!)
      there were random cuts in between as the 2 hr 45 mins movie finished in 2 hr 30 mins.they had some how crammed the whole thing in 400 MB so the picture quality was kinda dark.
      to add to all that…the guy for reasons best known to himself was shaking the camera once in a while…thrice he did that …for couple of minutes each…i mean… this was not a jism 2!
      to add to it i dont like action genre in general.

  35. Alex adams Says:

    “And now I take a solemn vow,that never ever…under any circumstance… under threat,inducement or out of masochistic perversity…will I watch another Nolan film again!Amen.”
    Hahaha lol @ ‘masochistic perversity’

  36. Alex adams Says:

    “of course i saw the movie on my laptop…downloaded it today,where else is one supposed to watch a movie?
    sadly,the only version that was available was dubbed in hindi…. that too 4 days after the movie release (shame on u pirates!)”-hahaha
    “to add to all that…the guy for reasons best known to himself was shaking the camera once in a while…thrice he did that …for couple of minutes each…i mean… this was not a jism 2!”
    ROFL–made me laugh there….
    U made my job easier-were planning to watch something today/tomorrow. Obviously TDKR will stay stuck in the theatres for ages and I won’t watch on anything lesss than IMAX ..no hurry there…
    More gals likely :, being coaxed to watch cock tail (I’ve watched it earlier but stroll being forced)

  37. Alex adams Says:

    Taking a break from cocktail n jism 2…
    Need to stay stuck in (focussed) for hours now in some boring ‘paperwork’/online work….
    For those (like anjali) used to preparing for exams, any tips ….thanx

  38. from FB

    SPOILER ALERT:

    In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Christian Bale is the Batman, and Anne Hathaway is the Batwomaniya.

  39. The greatest superhero trilogy ever?

    http://www.thehindu.com/arts/cinema/article3682406.ece

    As Bat-mania takes over the country, Sudhish Kamath wonders if The Dark Knight Rises concludes the greatest superhero trilogy ever made

    The world of comic books gives us stories about extraordinary individuals who jump around town in the most colourful of costumes, fighting the weirdest of freaks. Saving the world is their full-time job. As the narrative jumps between panels, storytellers have the licence to jump temporally and spatially to get on with the action. This is not the medium for character study. This is not the medium for chit-chat or polite conversation. Biff! Wham! Bam! Kapow! Crash! Sploosh! The End.

    And when filmmakers adapt such material, they inherit this licence. They are expected to deliver exactly the joy that comic books evoke and celebrate the superhero we grew up reading and watching.Hollywood films, in the past, have always done that, sometimes to logic-defying heights as Superman turned back the world for a couple of minutes to save Lois Lane and still spawned a successful franchise.

    Then came graphic novels that reinvented the good old comic book and drenched the pages with shades of reds and greys. Heroes became more complex and stories began to dwell on their psychological journeys — stories that probably appealed only to a niche, grown-up geek population in a few pockets around the world and formed topics of intense discussion only in comic conventions. Until one man turned a flawed, complex superhero, who fails more often than succeeds, into a mass hysteria generating phenomenon.

    Christopher Nolan has arguably created the greatest superhero trilogy of all time, the points of debate in The Dark Knight Rises notwithstanding. Rises, riding a massive tide of hype, opened to mixed reviews around the world. While fanboys worshipped and hailed Nolan’s vision, some of the critics chose to pick on some of the logical inconsistencies of the world.

    That in itself is the biggest compliment Nolan could’ve ever asked for. That people forgot the fact they were watching comic characters in funny costumes beat each other up like in a WWE match. A movie where one guy is dressed like a Bat, a woman like a Cat and a bald wrestler-type with no means to grab a bite is not exactly the world we live in. Yet Nolan makes these people reflect the world we live in. A world prone to attacks by men with twisted minds. A world where the top one per cent controls the rest. A world where heroes fail.
    Illusion of reality

    Over his three films, Nolan has made us invest in characters so much that he has managed to create an illusion of reality in the most unreal of situations. We tend to search for realism in spectacular action set pieces that unfold just because the character motivations are so real. We tend to wonder who gave Batman a lift to get from one place to another. Next, when Nolan-produced Man of Steel releases, critics might just ask: Hey, how is it possible for Superman to fly?

    Nolan’s is a near flawless trilogy. The first begins the legend and tells us everything about who he is and why he wears a mask. We see a man haunted by his fear turn it into his biggest strength. The second gives Batman a worthy adversary who pushes him over the edge. We see him fail and fall. The third gives us a sense of closure as the story brings him a full circle. We see him rise, having given the world everything he can.

    Not many trilogies have had the sense of clarity that Nolan has demonstrated with this perfect three-act story (though the filmmaker claims that he hadn’t planned the films in advance). The trilogy serves as a textbook example for Joseph Campbell’s theory of the hero’s journey popularly known as the Monomyth. If Batman Begins marked the hero’s ‘Departure,’ The Dark Knight served as an ‘Initiation’ for his transformation towards self-actualisation and Rises provided the perfect finale of the ‘Return’ when the hero becomes the ‘Master of Two Worlds’ and earns his ‘Freedom to Live’.

    Nolan goes one step further and bestows his superhero with the status of a messiah, even making him walk on water after his rise (a clear hat-doff to the Son of God). Except, three days is replaced with three months for the sake of movie pop-realism. And saving the world involves, well, saving his world — Gotham.

    But the biggest triumph of Nolan’s characterisation of Batman is that he challenges the very idea of our need for a superhero. How realistically can one man take on the mantle of saving the world even if he gives it his all? And for how long? Shouldn’t a superhero inspire people to become heroes themselves in their own little way instead of looking up to God or Batman to save them? Doesn’t a superhero deserve a life of his own? These are territories very few superhero films have dared to enter.Rises probably works best as the finale to the trilogy than a stand-alone film for many but let’s not forget that once we have seen Nolan’s Batman films back to back, every other superhero film ever made (including and especially the previous Batman franchises) would seem shallow.

    While other trilogies have been satisfied giving audiences more of the same winning formula, Nolan has chosen to tell us the story of an evolving hero who moves from darkness to light over the course of three films. (Remember critics complaining of the dark frames in Begins? In Rises, Batman, who mostly surfaces in the dark, takes on bad guys in broad daylight.)

    To twist Ra’s al Ghul’s quote: “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal… you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr. Nolan, a legend!”

  40. “Director Christopher Nolan, a guy who deemed absolute monarchy “relatable,” wouldn’t know real underclass resentment if it pulled him up by his underwear, the way his chums at his British private school used to. So let me clear things up – The Dark Knight has nothing to do with Occupy, and no one who sees it will make that connection, unless they gleaned everything they know about Occupy from newscopter footage. Bane’s “army of the 99%” is a disciplined private militia – no mention of anarchists, as the Guardian would have you believe – who happily volunteer for neck breakings out of blind loyalty.”

    A very interesting, cheeky take on the film.

    http://jacobinmag.com/blog/2012/07/the-dark-knight-is-no-capitalist/

  41. The Dark Knight Rises
    Christopher Nolan takes a comic book action hero and tries to talk about politics. What you get is an accidental critique of unbridled capitalism

    The Dark Knight Rises is supposed to be a movie on a comic book hero, but it looks and sounds like political rhetoric. It starts off with a eulogy on the ‘Dent Act’, legislation named after the former District Attorney of Gotham City, Harvey Dent. It gives the police the right to lock up people involved in organised crime indefinitely, perhaps forever, so that order is maintained and the city-state kept safe.

    This sounds remarkably like the provisions of much restrictive legislation in the United States, including The Patriot Act, brought in immediately after 9/11, which erased Habeas Corpus and allowed US authorities to detain individuals without trial. Later in the movie, terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) releases all the prisoners held under the Dent Act, saying it was illegal to begin with.

    This ‘anarchist’ goes further and talks about how the rich and powerful of Gotham City need to be brought to book. As it happens, one of the richest and most powerful is Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale). It is amusing but true. Batman is a capitalist. He has all the trappings of mega-wealth—huge real estate assets, gigantic R&D budgets that have produced many scientific innovations, including his remarkable transportation, the ‘Batmobile’, and, interestingly, plenty of philanthropic measures to serve as tax write-offs. So, Bane attacks Wayne where it hurts most, with a terrorist attack on the stock exchange; he virtually bankrupts him by creating bad investments in his name.

    http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/cinema/the-dark-knight-rises

    • The piece is a bit too harsh. But also I disagree that the comic book universe is an ‘alternative’ one in the sense of always being apart from our more ‘normal’ world.

  42. Was saving this review till I watched it.
    Problamatic politics aside, this was an audiovisual treat.
    Good to see the Mehrangar Fort ( Jodhpur) in the movie.

    • I saw it for a second time on a regular screen rather than IMAX and beyond a point (and besides the politics) I found it kind of slow…it really picks up in the last hour or thereabouts but for a movie pushing three hours that’s not a great ratio. On top of which after one has seen it on true IMAX it’s difficult to enjoy the technical accomplishment displayed here in the same way…

      • For me the IMAX viewing was the second one so I didn’t have your problem though admittedly after that introductory action sequence I kind of wanted to get to the last hour or more!

    • Didn’t know this was used..

  43. Best scenes from Nolan movies on his B’day

  44. the authors here argue against the idea that the film has a right-wing tilt:

    http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/07/26/581591/dark-knight-christopher-nolan/?mobile=nc

    • This makes good points but it’s also a bit obvious because for my part the argument isn’t whether or not Nolan believes or intended this reading. One can safely assume Nolan’s not advocating for the conservatives and it’s ultimately not about him being a Republican or a Democrat. It’s the overall sense that under his direction over the course of three movies, the Batman has essentially become an institutionalized “soldier” in a war (this is quite literal by the final scenes) where he’s ultimately become a part of the state apparatus. The series began with him operating outside this structure (which even the writers here describe as thoroughly corrupt) and by the final film he became fully integrated. As I mentioned, an honorary cop with toys. He even gets a statue in City Hall! To some degree, by the very nature of the scale Nolan is operating at with these movies–each one raising the stakes, the size of the world and its epic framework–it was almost inevitable that his Batman would need an apocalyptic war as a climactic moment. But in such a scenario The Dark Knight needs to pick an army, and the side he’s on, especially on visual terms, represents something that given recent history doesn’t sit easy. I didn’t choose that image at the top for nothing!

  45. “The Dark Knight” is as fascist as Leni Reifenstahl????

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/01/deranged-angels-of-self-preservation/

  46. Satyam, hav u written something on TDKR…

  47. ^^ GF-can’t help but feel that this film didn’t deserve such a quality review/ reviewer as you !!
    Found TDKR an underwhelming experience and as always will mince NO words -
    The ‘hesitation’ in taking Nolan and this film to task is irking me.
    anyhow that’s just my opinion–

    The dark (k)night of film ‘reviews’ -TDKR
    Why is it that one HAS to love a film like this
    Well, the great Nolan has made it
    The ‘fitting’ finale of the great trilogy
    So not only one has to love it, one has to show it off openly-or atleast close ones eyes to glaring issues!
    To heck with it…
    No such compulsions here for me
    Found it an ambitious, emotionally shoehorned yet overall a drab pretentious film lacking in true calibre
    Yes, there are flashes of brilliance enuf but then is that it for a film with such hype and ‘credentials’
    Yes, one sees the attempts at pseudo right wing politicisation but when one tries to do this whilst trying to do justice to an essentially ‘comic book’ background-this is what you get – a portentous mess.
    And in the current scenario of recession and Arab spring
    Is this the ‘resolution’
    The underwritten symbolism here is somewhat fool’hardy’
    Christian delivers reasonably and most of the cast doesn’t really underperform
    Infact hardy nearly threatens to pull off a ‘joker’ here and does a good job in conveying menace through just his eyes
    Ace body language in some scenes but something just fell short
    And talking about oldman & Morgan -well felt a bit sorry for them!
    Marion cotillard-
    If she was unimpressive in midnight in Paris, she was BAD here imo. Get almost ANY reasonably maintained girl from Paris, even anywhere in france and she will be more presentable
    What was she thinking and what were the makers thinking
    Oh that’s cotillard -poor really
    The ONLY person who came out with the reputation enhanced IMO
    Was Anne Hathaway – didn’t think she would have it in her but she gave this role a new meaning!
    her role was interesting-neither here nor there-neither good nor bad and unimpressed with batman…..liked her body language as well.

    But what beats me is why the ‘upholders of quality’ world over mum over this!
    Don’t get me wrong-would call it an above average effort that delivers somewhat in keeping with the expectations
    But was that enuf!!
    A somewhat ‘dark (k)night for unbiased and honest film opinion making!!!
    Even if not over the top positive, the muted criticism has irritated me.
    When the main saviours of a film of this scale and ambition is Anne Hathaway and hold your breath the ‘batvehicle’ one knows the feeling !!!

    Xxxxxx

    Not to be carried away, this film does have its moments
    And liked a few
    Especially the closing one of Michael Caine glancing at Christian and heathway quietly
    And also the ‘return of batman’ scene…
    Xxxxxxxx
    But specially enjoyed the beating hardy gave batman…
    Some ace dialogues there –(dialogue courtesy :google)

    Bane: Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated… but we are initiated, aren’t we Bruce? Members of the League of Shadows!
    [Lifts Batman by the neck]
    Bane: And you betrayed us!
    Bruce Wayne: You were excommunicated… by a gang of psychopaths!
    [Bane viciously beats Batman and throws him to the ground]
    Bane: [viciously beats Batman and throws him to the ground] I AM the League of Shadows, and I’m here to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny!
    [Batman uses an EMP device to cut the lights]
    Bane: You fight like a younger man, with nothing held back. Admirable but mistaken.
    Bane: Oh, you think darkness is your ally. You merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!
    [grabs Batman from the shadows and continues to beat him]
    Bane: The shadows betray you, they belong to me!
    [repeatedly punches Batman in the face, breaking his cowl]
    Bane: I will show you where I have made my home while preparing to bring justice. Then I will break you.
    [Hits detonator, blowing a hole into the bottom of Wayne Enterprise]
    Bane: Your precious armory, gratefully accepted! We will need it.
    [Batman desperately stands and swings at Bane]
    Bane: Ah, yes… I was wondering what would break first…
    [lifts Batman high]
    Bane: Your spirit, or your body?
    [slams him on his knee]

  48. Continuing my diatribe -from elsewhere
    Had a bit of a ‘disagreement’ with a blind Nolan fan today
    Have nothing against action-love it and indulge in it occasionally
    But can’t keep my eyes closed when viewing a film–
    Think the writing by gf here is too good for this film..anyhow posting it in the correct thread-

    AA Says:
    August 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM
    The ‘hesitation’
    Again, whats REALLY disappointing me here is NOT TDKR or finding it underwhelming
    But cannot by any stretch find this a great film worthy of the expectations and the ‘stature’ of the predecessor
    I was trying to state away from this film and a certain ‘darkness’ and tried to give it a chance
    But the ‘hesitation’ in calling a spade a spade is a bit unsettling
    Moreso for the NON Hollywood ‘reviewers’ who won’t mind pouncing on even genuinely good efforts just to emphasise a certain ‘superiority’ in taste!!!
    Is there an undesirably undercurrent in this ‘hesitation’-I hope not!

    Anyhow, as I write my honest views on this underwhelmer of a film-
    Am NOW aware that rotten tomatoes is seeing a literal ‘war’ on the ‘negative’ reviews by diehard ‘teenage’ batman/nolan fanatics.
    Though when even non-teenage fans ‘hesitate’ thats what I find irksome….
    Oh, we’ll, rottentomatoes has note blocked negative reviews…

    Have we seen any TDKR negative reviews here or elsewhere in Bollywood circles–the problem is not the ‘pattern’ but the muted ‘obedience’ that this pattern is followed !!!!

    Reply
    AA Says:
    August 10, 2012 at 4:26 PM
    Obama shared my thoughts on TDKR!
    If I would be following some of the reviews here or elsewhere even in Bollywood circles, one would believe the ultra rating this film has garnered !
    But hey, someone shares my view –Obama!!!
    Who felt Hathaway is the best thing about this film!!(perhaps he also meant ‘only’)!
    I won’t say that ‘great minds think alike’ etc but am atleast ‘reassured’ a bit!

    “It seems Barack Obama finally got around to seeing “The Dark Knight Rises“— presidents don’t get out to the Cineplex all that often — and on Monday, he offered up his review: Turns out, he really liked Anne Hathaway.
    “She’s spectacular. I got a chance to see ‘Batman,’ and she was the best thing in it,” the prez raved about Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman (or perhaps her skin-tight catsuit). “That’s just my personal opinion.”

    http://movienight.mtv.ca/2012/08/president-obama-praises-anne-hathaways-catwoman-in-dark-knight-rises/

    Reply
    AA Says:
    August 10, 2012 at 4:34 PM
    Lets ditch this ‘hesitation’ and lemme not mince any words–
    TDKR (rating out of five): the brasstacks
    Film 2
    Nolan 2
    Bale 3
    Hardy 4
    Marion cotillard 0
    Oldman/Morgan/Caine haha
    Anne Hathaway 4.5
    Positive (nonteenage) Movie reviewers of TDKR : they dont need points-they need a ‘spine’
    Ps: just my opinion : as by Obama

    Reply
    AA Says:
    August 10, 2012 at 4:47 PM
    I wasnt alone-Sanity hits back!!–And finally negative reviews attack !!!!!!!
    But hey-Where there is ‘smoke’, there has to be ‘fire’ !!!
    Rottentomatoes had to bloody block the comments due to ‘death threats’ sent by juvenile fans!!! For the FIRST time in history ..

    “Seemingly suggesting that the anonymity of Internet commenting tends to bring out the worst in people and that fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are particularly sensitive to slights, Rotten Tomatoes has suspended all user comments—for the first time in its history—on reviews of The Dark Knight Rises, after a mere few hundred minor personal attacks and fanciful violent fantasies against those critics who have dared to find fault with the film. As the site’s editor-in-chief Matt Atchity told the Associated Press, “The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether,” adding, “It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn’t even seen.” And of course, threatening to gut some idiot hack who expresses a differing opinion is only acceptable after a film’s official release.
    For those who can’t wait to vent until the end of the week, when user comments are likely to be restored, it should be noted that Rex Reed’s review is now up and awaiting comments.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/rotten-tomatoes-suspends-dark-knight-rises-comment,82616/

    • omrocky786 Says:

      satyam- I put that in the other thread to rebutt AA’s argument about Nolan and Indians…

    • “Maybe Nolan had just too many balls to juggle with in “The Dark Knight Rises”. There were the spectacular action set-pieces to coordinate and plan. There was Catwoman’s shapely derriere to capture. There was over-emotional Alfred’s teary-eyed Alok Nath act. There was cheerless Fox. There was the building up of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character (Justice League?). There was Bane. There was Marion Cottilard. There was the famous Nolan twist, which unfortunately, seemed less Nolan and more Anees Bazmi. There was the “fantasy” last shot (or was it?) which worked so poignantly in “Inception” (The spinning totem— does it fall or not? Do we care if we are in a dream or in reality, as long as we are with the ones we love?) but here seems formulaic and maudlin.”
      This was good but then he ‘balances’ out or somewhat ‘compensates’ for any criticism with some soothing closing lines…

      • Which is a problem…why?

        • It is not a problem– just that I don’t agree
          If he has creditably ‘detected’ so many ‘issues’ with the film, that’s fine and good
          But the ‘summary’ makes it appear that all that suddenly needs to be forgotten and hey, it was actually a great film, as if one can’t really go all the way to criticise it
          But yes, agree with him that as a ‘trilogy” and in totality it’s good.
          Ps: who is ‘greatbong’ ? Anyone here,,,

          • So it’s good that he critiques the film except it’s not cool that he qualifies the critique except that it is because in totality it’s good.

            Got it. That makes total sense.

          • It’s not only about this greatbong
            The overall discourse on TDKR seems ‘hesitant’ and ‘apologetic’ when it comes to certain ‘issues’
            Even in the rare Indian review like this, where these ‘issues’ are mentioned , the criticism is quickly ‘defended’ or diluted by the pretext of the v good ‘trilogy’
            Anyhow- this is one of the more balanced review on TDKR..
            Though I was less impressed by this film

          • Yes but there’s absolutely no difference between your own sense of the film and what you see as problematic about the discourse out there. Because you couch your own distaste for the movie with a respect for the trilogy as a whole. Perhaps this approach is contagious.

          • @ greatbong: But a review of TDKR should predominantly be of ‘that’ film not a collective review of the ‘trilogy’…

          • Alex you should one day share with all of us that rulebook you have on what makes for a proper review. Such wisdom should be shared.

  49. GF: I re-read this review after watching the movie (last Sunday) and writing my own piece earlier today — a very fine piece indeed (hard to believe it began life as a comment); if I were Fareed Zakaria, I’d probably be out of a job right now!

  50. AamirsFan Says:

    Finally watched TDKR tonight in IMAX. this was an epic ending to an epic trilogy. i chose not to indulge too much into the movie as some of the great comments above and this great review by GF…but i just chose to totally enjoyed this movie. though the TDK remains the best and most favorite batman movie for me, this one is second. Christopher Nolan is a freakin genius and has totally changed the game of how superhero movies should be ‘dealt’ with. I’m glad he is ‘over looking’ the upcoming Superman movie. Its truly a bittersweet ending for this batman series. the next installment will have HUGE shoes to fill.

    • Yeah, and there’s definitely going to be another installment when they reboot the series with a new director. My hope is that they let some time pass before picking this up again because I’m a little Batmanned-out. Superheroed-out actually.

      On that note, Cronenberg had some rather harsh words for the Nolan series:

      http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/robert-pattinson-david-cronenberg-cosmopolis-interview/

      Even though I probably don’t feel as strongly about it, it’s hard to argue against Cronenberg’s thoughts here.

      • “because I’m a little Batmanned-out. Superheroed-out actually”

        LOL, agreed..!

        Having said that I’ll still watch the next dozen!

      • OKKKKKK….wasn’t his HISTORY OF VIOLENCE based on a comic book?????

        • A graphic novel. There is a distinction.

        • Having said that and more to the point I do disagree with him that such works can’t be elevated. You won’t get “supreme cinema art” as he rightly says, but not all comic book movies are the same and there are certainly attempts (most nrecently X-Men First Class) that really do attempt something more meaningful than the more overtly adolescent stuff like Spiderman or Thor or what have you.

          • Actually i believe Nolan can say the same abt all of Cronenberg’s ‘horror-psycho thrillers’ since u cannot usually have ‘supreme cinema’ in horror genre (unless it’s a Hitchcock film or something like Exorcist/Carrie)- so yes one can have a superior genre effort like William Friedkin’s Bug (talking abt recent times). otherwise it’s limited to Wes Craven/Sam Raimi and their clones. Also if i am not wrong horror too as a genre has always been looked down upon.

          • I’d disagree a bit there Saurabh. The superhero genre comes with certain built-in limitations. It can often be suggestive, there’s always some subtext there but to make it fully metaphysical (as also happens with some of the source material and not just the movies) is I think something of a mistake. Which is why the X-Men prequel is to my mind the one that gets the balance perfectly in every sense. Not that I have a great problem with making things more serious but I can see why many would find such attempts to be a bit ponderous.

            On horror you’re somewhat right except that note how some of the cinema’s very great film’s from the silent era were horror works that were extraordinary artistic films as well. A whole galaxy of films. On that note there’s an excellent book on De Palma (that certainly forced me to revise my views on him, certainly with respect to his thrillers) that also offers a theory of cinema and where the author very persuasively argues that ‘horror’ possibly defines the essence of the medium more than anything else. For him most of De Palma’s thrillers are horror films and he’d argue that much of Hitchcock falls within this category too.

      • AamirsFan Says:

        i agree with what croneberg has said. superhero’s are for an immature audience really. but what christopher nolan has almost effortlessly done is handle an immature subject and created a very mature trilogy. like i said above..he has changed the game on how to make a super hero movie. i was not a fan of batman before i started watching this latest batman series…hell i wasn’t that big of a fan of super hero movies all together.

    • Goddammit…you broke Alex’s heart!

    • @ AamirsFan on TDKR

      Goddammit…you broke Alex’s heart!

  51. Haha aamirsfan is not one of certain intellectually (& physically) attractive females who can ‘break my heart’ :-)
    Anyhow Its ‘Unbreakable’
    And ‘impregnable’ ;-)
    Btw Happy to see he enjoyed TDKR & didn’t try to ‘justify’ it by complicated means–that’s all that matters…

  52. Not surprised that aamirsfan loved TDKR
    He has already shown how sensible he is by getting ‘married’this year–so no further proof is needed from me haha
    Ps-btw aamirsfan :remind me it is u only u said somewhere that u are eagerly waiting to get married
    And to see dabang2 on the first nite !!!! :-)

    • AamirsFan Says:

      lol yes bro i am the dude who will be watching dabangg 2 lol…and i dont know about eagerly waiting…but yes come dec…ill be on the ‘other side’. :)

  53. AamirsFan Says:

    btw GF…the title “an occupied gotham” for the review is brilliant! i tried searching for satyam bhai’s review of TDKR but could not find it…

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