Thursday, August 09, 2007

Swear to me !

I’d been following reports about the shooting and production of ‘The Dark Knight’ for a few days now, and at the same time was reminiscing about the previous installment; ‘Batman Begins’. I felt I had to write about the way this movie affected me. So here goes…

It’s a widely accepted fact that Joel Schumacher (the good director that he is) single handedly destroyed the Batman franchise. The last movie of the series; Batman and Robin, sunk to such low levels that many fans, like me, were sometimes embarrassed to discuss the movie or express interest in Batman related subjects.

To clearly understand the persona of Batman, we should explore the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, multi-billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. In many versions of the comics and movies, we see that Bruce sometimes blames himself for the events that led to the brutal murder of his parents. There is always an element of guilt, vengeance and rage that drives the Batman in his quest for justice. Which is precisely why, he chose the persona of the bat. The next few lines brilliantly capture the essence of The Batman saga.

"My anger outweighs my guilt."

"I seek...The means to fight injustice. To turn fear against those who prey on the fearful."

"Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread."

"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy, and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting."

Now, I come to the main part of my post and the reason for the title. After witnessing the horrible kitschy drivel that was “Batman and Robin”, I doubted if there could ever be a movie that recaptured the personal angst and internal conflict that were vital elements in most Batman stories. And so it was with mixed emotions that I went to the theatre screening of ‘Batman Begins’.
The first half of the movie deals with his early life, the foundations of his training, and the circumstances that would lead to his self exile. The second half of the movie deals with his arrival in Gotham and the events that act as the catalyst in the metamorphosis from Bruce Wayne to The Batman. Chris Nolan has done a great job in portraying the evolution of the character and the storyline progresses in an intelligible manner with very few gaps.

Any remaining doubts I may have had about the abilities of Chris Nolan or Christian Bale were blown clear outta the sky with these three words; “SWEAR TO ME!” Just three words, three very simple words. I’m not gonna spend time explaining the context and the situation when this phrase was uttered by Christian Bale, but I want to tell you that these three words contained the essence, the rage, the power and everything else that I expected from his character. Never in my entire movie watching history had I experienced such raw emotion from so few words. The portrayal of that scene was so intense that I was on the edge of my seat and at this the precise moment I realized Chris Nolan was serious about the revival of the series and his commitment to the franchise. Thank you, Chris Nolan and Christian Bale, for restoring my faith.

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