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hagren

Beyond A Joker

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Bruce, Rachel, Harvey, Gordon, Dent, Joker, Batman, is all characterization, not plot.

 

I'm not saying its BAD or that it DOESN'T work. I'm just saying the central plot is thin is all.

 

I'd argue that the main plot is the struggle between Batman and the Joker, the theme of which struggle is order vs. chaos. All the stuff with the mob (trying to bring it down via their money, the Asian dude running off with and it Batman catching him, the mobsters turning to the Joker to take out Batman) is a series of plot points serving the main plot. Opening situation: Batman wants to take down the mob. The Joker then uses that situation to get himself into direct conflict with Batman.

 

I'd define the 'central plot' as 'the conflict whose outcome is most integral to the movie.' In The Dark Knight, it doesn't matter that much whether Batman & the Gotham cops get the mob's money or not--it's still the same movie whether they succeed or not. It matters a great deal whether Batman prevails over the Joker or not. Change the outcome of that conflict and you've got an entirely different movie.

 

Jesus, I can't believe I'm trying to make the case for a particular interpretation of a comic book movie. I guess this one was pretty good, or I'm a bigger nerd than ever.

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Bruce, Rachel, Harvey, Gordon, Dent, Joker, Batman, is all characterization, not plot.

 

I'm not saying its BAD or that it DOESN'T work. I'm just saying the central plot is thin is all.

 

I'd argue that the main plot is the struggle between Batman and the Joker, the theme of which struggle is order vs. chaos. All the stuff with the mob (trying to bring it down via their money, the Asian dude running off with and it Batman catching him, the mobsters turning to the Joker to take out Batman) is a series of plot points serving the main plot. Opening situation: Batman wants to take down the mob. The Joker then uses that situation to get himself into direct conflict with Batman.

That is exactly what I meant when I said this:

Otherwise, the plot seemed thin and only oriented to bring the Joker and Batman together, and their shared dialog was where the movie shined for me, that's what I remember from the Miller book.

...and I think it WORKS SO WELL because the audience is already familiar with both characters, and its their interaction they wish to see.

 

Clearer now?

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That is exactly what I meant when I said this:

Otherwise, the plot seemed thin and only oriented to bring the Joker and Batman together, and their shared dialog was where the movie shined for me, that's what I remember from the Miller book.

...and I think it WORKS SO WELL because the audience is already familiar with both characters, and its their interaction they wish to see.

 

Clearer now?

 

Totally. I wasn't sure what you meant by 'plot,' which can be kind of a fuzzy word.

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"the plot seemed thin and only oriented to bring the Joker and Batman together"

 

That seems kind of an odd comment - would you have preferred a plot that wasn't orientated around conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist?

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"the plot seemed thin and only oriented to bring the Joker and Batman together"

 

That seems kind of an odd comment - would you have preferred a plot that wasn't orientated around conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist?

What I meant, and thought had clarified via the dialogue with Jessie, was that this movie was a character driven, rather than plot driven, vehicle.

 

Edit: Let me clarify this point further, because it seems that to even remotely criticize this film is provoking a strong reaction. This film is a psychodrama, centrally between Batman and Joker, but also the ancillary characters (mostly Gordon and Harvey TBH). Whereas the character development and interactions are central, the unifying story, such as it is, is very much in the background.

 

Consider My Dinner with Andre. It was a very pleasing film, but it placed the personalities interacting at the center, and otherwise not much else happened. Does that make it a bad film? NO! Its just not plot heavy.

 

On the other hand, there is LotR. It skews heavily in the other direction, its a plot heavy film. That it also develops characters well is due to having three films over which to explore them.

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A lolworthy quote from an acquaintance on another forum...

And to this day I'm pissed about the party scene that ends after Batman jumps out of the window. Did the Joker leave right afterwards? Did he stay and enjoy the rest of the party? The world must know.

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Haha - yeah, that was the one moment that really pulled me out the film. I'm expecting a deleted scene on the dvd where Batman thinks 'phew, I saved Rachel' but goes upstairs and finds that the Joker and chums have murdered all of his guests AND stolen his favourite CDs etc. Alfred has also been killed and that's why you never see Bruce and Alfred touch for the rest of the film. Alfred is either holographic or a ghost for the rest of the film.

 

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I was in a bar at the weekend where there was a massive screen on one wall that was playing the Dark Knight on a loop with the sound down. Obviously I already know the story having seen it several times, but I was still impressed at all the body language the actors had.

 

I hope to watch it again properly (with sound and evryfink) once I've unwrapped a few packages tomorrow :smile:

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I watched it again last night on download. Despite the crappy DivX quality I was once again impressed with the soundtrack as well as the acting. There's nothing thin about the plot people.

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There is, you know. That's not a criticism at all - if you wanted to phrase it differently, you could say something like "the story focuses with razor-sharp precision on the central conflict between Batman and the Joker", but it still amounts to the same thing.

 

Just to emphasize that I really don't think of "thin plot" as a criticism in this case* - if anything, I think it could have done with being even more pared down - on repeat viewings, I find that the film loses its way slightly with the introduction of Two-Face, a complication which might have been better-served by leaving it for fuller exploration in a subsequent film - but the fact remains that there's very little material in the film which doesn't relate directly to the fairly simple Batman/Joker conflict. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but few of them serve to seriously derail that central narrative thrust.

 

 

*Not that I don't have criticisms - I do, for all that it's a very good film, there are still a few significant flaws, about which I shall remain silent for fear of the Wrath of Nerds - but this isn't one of them.

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There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but few of them serve to seriously derail that central narrative thrust.

 

I guess what I don't understand is how 'central narrative thrust' is distinct from 'plot,' or what exactly would constitute a 'thick plot' in this case.

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I've seen it four or five times thus far, and I still can't help skipping the Joker murders Gambol scene.

 

I mean it's well acted and I understand that its meant to introduce one Joker origin to be contradicted by another later on, but the degree of how ovbious ut was that the Joker was not dead ruins it for me.

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There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but few of them serve to seriously derail that central narrative thrust.

 

I guess what I don't understand is how 'central narrative thrust' is distinct from 'plot,' or what exactly would constitute a 'thick plot' in this case.

See I don't understand that either.

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Hmmn, we're somantically arguing definitions rather than the film it seems. Yay us! :mong:

 

To avoid further confusion Good plot is ALWAYS concise. It's a line. Plot is what happens. Story is HOW it happens and how it's told

 

I think the confusion that's causing argument here is people are mistakenly thinking someone's saying 'it's Batman vs the Joker - that's it' but I don't think that's what's actually being said.

 

It's not just a boxing match between two people - Plot in this case equals Batman finds what he has to overcome within himself to overcome the antagonists (Joker and Two-Face) and come to terms with the sacrifices he must make if Batman is to succeed as a concept (as The Dark Knight). This is extrapolated into a nice story 'with lots of nice twists and turns' that incorporates all of Gotham and provides character arcs for several characters that parallel Batman's so it's not just a one-note movie.

 

There's a thing here of Jaws - Jaws plot equals City cop Brody has to overcome fear of water/nature to face the shark that threatens his town/family. Certainly a slight plot by the standards being used earlier but you don't hear anyone calling Jaws a shit film!

 

Overall, we all liked the film (faults/silly batvoices/unsteady action sequences/arsenumbing run-time and all!) Hurrah!

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We all agree that arsenumbing is better than mindnumbing? Heh.

 

I do understand what your saying though. It's all those twists and turn which made for a brilliant plot. Then there's the score, Ledger's performance...etc.

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We all certainly agree it was a captivating, very entertaining movie. I quite agree with Mark, as you might assume.

 

Tried to watch it again on the flight over here to my 15th anniversary vacation spot, but the sound was b0rked. Will try again on the return.

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Rewatched it on DVD today. It's still a superb crime-thriller with a psychological subtext, and a true accomplishment to dig this deep into the conflict of anarchy vs. order for a film centralizing on characters being either heavily made up or wearing an unintentionally hilarious rubber suit. Kudos to the whole crew for this masterpiece.

 

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Not to drag this any further, but judging plot from story , which has always thrown me since my film school days,

 

The essential plot may be simpler (But by your measuring stick a great deal films are shockingly so), but it's pretty clear that what plot there is has been directly contrived to execute themes and subtext.

The subtext dominates in so much that it really can't be called subtext anymore.

The plot pleasantly comes second.

Themes executed though plot, rather than a plot crawling towards it's themes.

Which is exactly the way I prefer it.

Personally the story itself does a great job of dazzling and distracting and even for it's length is beguilingly packed full of information.

 

That's like plot wise if Watchmen was read in chronlogical order it would be very much simpler, but it's not in order it's completely about the shuffling, just as Dark Knight's story fleshs out the more rudimentary plot.

 

It's most definitely not plot for the sake of plot, which many films that have far more signifigant plot are guilty of doing.

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Whoopee, validation. What with this and Watchmen finally being turned into a film, it's almost as though society is telling me that I haven't been wasting my time on juvenile trash for all these years. Hooray.

 

 

Sorry, was that a dickish thing to say? I've only just woken up, my judgement of tone and nuance may not be up to its usual impeccably-high standard.

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The Academy has no credibility whatsoever as far as I'm concerned.

 

With Slumdog Millionaire winning 8 undeserved Oscars...absolutely none.

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It would have been interesting to see if Ledger playing a Batman villain would even been nominated were it not for his untimely death (I hope it almost goes without saying that it would also have been far better to not see Heath Ledger die at such a young age and so on)

 

It's good that Dark Knight won best Sound Design. I know no-one cares about these Oscars particularly but it at least shows a moment where the Academy voters might have thought about what they were voting for rather than just ticking 'Slumdog Millionaire' or 'Crash' in all of the categories they don't really understand.

 

I do see the flaws in the film but still do really like it (apparently, that's allowed) but am yet to see/hear any flaw in its sound design... with the proviso that Bale's batvoice comes strictly under performance!

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