Saturday, July 21, 2012

From a Hero to a Legend

The Law of averages applies to everyone doesn’t it?  Everybody screws up at some point of time just to even out the frequency of their successes. Sportsmen have had a lean patch, actors have had movies that have bombed at the box office, and even the greatest of directors have floundered after having promised much. It is acceptable since we are human after all, but yet that dreaded Law seems to avoid one man in particular (much to our relief)–Christopher Nolan. He has never ceased to amaze us in all of his ventures, a short filmography it may be and he has a long journey ahead (yay! For that) yet never has a director in such a short span of time has promised us so much and ended up delivering more than what was expected.

When “Rises”, the final conclusion to The Dark Knight trilogy was announced three years ago it had everyone’s curiosity and the moment when the trailers were released, it had everyone’s attention. From contemplating who the villain would be, to discussing what the Lazarus Pit was–a set-piece that was shot at Jodhpur, movie geeks world over had been caught in a state of frenzy and mass hysteria (Yours truly included) over the Caped Crusader’s final exploits. To sum it up the hairs on the back of my neck have been standing for three long years. Having mixed a bit of philosophy in the narrative of an enigmatic comic book hero, and a score of such epic proportions that even the Greek Gods would want it to be played in the background during a joust, Nolan’s Batman is not just a movie character watching whom leaves us enthralled, but is also a source of inspiration to live by the code “Give it your all, and ask for nothing in return.”

Nolan had taken a forgotten hero, a lost symbol of hope and courage who was caged within the pages of comic books and had turned him into a pop culture phenomenon. If the first part dealt with how Bruce Wayne becomes the Batman, the second part tells us the story of Good versus Evil–the Evil residing within everyone one of us, and one Clown who was hell bent on showing us that deep down the world was as gory as the scars on his face.

“You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other.” 

The Joker proclaims, a villain with no code who wants to bring the ugliness within people to surface. He succeeds in bringing the dark side of Harvey Dent to the fore as he manipulates the Savior of the masses to becoming a Villain, the hero the people believed in turns into a deranged psychopath in search of vengeance. In the end after Harvey’s death Batman takes the wrap for the crimes committed by Dent, a decision which he justifies by saying :

“Sometimes the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

He becomes the fall guy to help the people of Gotham sustain their faith in Good, he shields the people from getting a look at Harvey’s scarred side. He is whatever Gotham needs him to be, the Vigilante becomes the Villain so that people keep their faith on that pristine humane face of Harvey Dent–the White Knight. The first two installments of The Dark Knight trilogy was more than a big budget summer blockbuster, it could not be restricted to a specific genre, it was way beyond all that, it was a philosophy, a spiritual journey that dealt with Hope, Fear, Justice, Chaos–the third and final segment of which will deal with Pain.

I am not going to review the movie as there are way better reviews out there. I am still reeling from what I had watched last night, these could only be termed as the after-effects of having watched something spectacular unfold. All that belief, hope and anticipation that you had for three years culminates into a three-hour smorgasbord of visuals, sounds and emotions that leaves your heart and mind brimming with a staunch devotion to the man behind the Dark Knight trilogy.

Christopher Nolan may not fall in the league of Scorsese, Spielberg, or Kubrick–I for one feel that he may also be left Oscar-less since those at the panel of the Academy may dub him as nothing more than a manufacturer of summer blockbusters. His stories may seem flawless when viewed first because the narrative is of such gargantuan proportions and the stakes are so high that you never focus on the finer details (Sample Inception which was a heist story not without its flaws). He may not be a story-teller like the afore mentioned directors, you cannot expect him to make a movie on genocide, or a drama on a married couple whose marriage is on the rocks, or a down in the dumps boxer beating all odds and coming back to win the title championship. A storyteller of that kind he may not be but he is something more than that, he is a wizard Mr. Wayne. He knows how to get your hearts racing, he knows how to get the crowd on its feet and clapping, for those three hours within the movie hall all your attention belongs to him. You are left mesmerized by the genius of Nolan. Pfft! Move over the Scorseses and the Spielbergs, he doesn’t need to be in a league like that, he is in a league of his own! That isn’t to say that his style is all shock and awe, hidden underneath those behemoth settings, behind all that carnage that give a larger-than-life feel to it is the subtle truth, a one-liner that serves as a punch line which has a deeper meaning to it that would make even Confucius proud. In “The Dark Knight” all our questions regarding who the Joker was, and what drove his actions, his motivation was answered with that one line by the wise Alfred.

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

I had been alien to the concept of Fanboyism in cinema (it’s a different story when it comes to television) I am a movie geek but there hasn’t been any movie character in recent times who has affected me the way in which Batman had. Be it his sense of righteousness, he putting his life on the line to save his beloved Gotham, his pain of having lost his loved one while blaming himself for the misfortune, Nolan’s Batman is one of the most troubled cinematic heroes out there. He is more human, he is flawed, he has his set of rules, he is all conquering, all encompassing, yet he never makes himself to be bigger than the law. He makes us believe that anyone can be a hero, even doing a little thing like putting a coat over a kid’s shoulders and telling him everything is alright.

As the days to the release neared, the excitement had reached a fever pitch. Display images on Facebook and Twitter were changed, dialogues from those numerous teasers and trailers were memorized by heart and spoken with that gruff Batman tone, the trailers were watched/listened to umpteen number of times, t-shirts with Batman prints were bought to wear for the occasion. With the world having shrunk thanks to social media, notes were exchanged, links were pinged, endings were discussed, leaked background scores were listened to just to keep the intensity going. All of Bat-tards were united together to witness what would be the final hurrah of the Dark Knight. As the lights went out, a hundred strangers in the hall were brought together by their common love for a symbol of justice for which they cheered. Heroes are for everyone, and everyone wants a piece of a Hero. And as the lights came back and the end credits rolled we realized that we had gotten the ending we needed, the ending The Dark Knight deserved.

While narrating the story of a Hero, a saga that spanned seven years Christopher Nolan took us on an emotional roller coaster ride, he told us the tale of a Hero who transcended every race, religion and community the society was bound to and brought people the world over together. As the final words of this glorious chapter were written Nolan unbeknownst to himself had grown on from being a Hero to a Legend.

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