The Dark Knight trilogy has been a triumph. Christopher Nolan has injected new life into the Batman character. The three films have had it all – detailed storylines, complex characters and amazing special effects.
I’m no expert on the films, in fact I can’t even profess to be a hardcore fan (I watched the three films in the wrong order). But the final film in the series - The Dark Knight Rises has further cemented my belief that Nolan’s achievement in re-imagining the story of Batman will go down in history for all the right reasons.
I’m not sure where the phrase ‘greatest story ever told’ originated from. But it seems apt to me that the story of Jesus is often given this title. If you think about some of the films most of us enjoy the most, they contain the same themes and messages as the Jesus story. Redemption, hope and love are just three, but there are many more.
The parallels between Nolan’s great story and God’s greatest story start with the city of Gotham.
Throughout The Dark Knight trilogy, we are reminded that Gotham is a city void of justice. The police are unable to crack down on crime and various gangs and evil figures rule. In the Jesus story, the Bible tells us that society at large and the world in general has ‘fallen’. Jesus himself said “why do you call me good? No one is good except God”. Try telling a friend that they aren’t a “good person”. It doesn’t go down well. Most of us realise we aren’t perfect, but we all believe we’re above average. But statistically it’s impossible for everyone to be above average! Humankind has something drastically wrong with it. The Bible calls this ‘sin’. And in Gotham, sin is everywhere you turn.
Just as in the time before Noah’s flood, there was a feeling that the world (or Gotham) was too bad to be redeemed and must rather be punished. (God even said he had “regretted” making mankind because it had become so sinful). In the same way, The League of Shadows decided that Gotham was so evil that it must be decimated of all human life. This may sound extreme, but we all long for justice and many even express joy when murderers and rapists are either locked away for life, or even given the death penalty in other nations.
Salvation through Batman alone
Jesus was well aware of how sinful mankind had become. But he didn’t pronounce immediate judgment. Batman also knew first hand how evil Gotham was, but he saves it anyway. In both cases, it was undeserved favour.
The city of Gotham falsely accused Batman of murder. Jesus was falsely accused of a crime punishable by death (treason). He was hated. But he, just like Batman, never gave up. Even though neither Gotham nor our own world deserved saving, mercy was demonstrated in both cases.
Dying for you
Hope is a major theme in The Dark Knight Rises. Without hope, the good guys in the film would have given up about 45 minutes in. But no, they slogged it out for the full 2 hours 45 minutes! In the Bible, prophets foretold of a day when everything would be made right again. This gave the Israelites hope, even in the toughest times.
Like almost every superhero film you can think of, the main character pays the ultimate price and either gives or very nearly gives his life to save the world!
When we honour soldiers who have given their lives in battle, we often quote the words: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” These words were originally said by Jesus. All of us can relate to them. Sacrifice is impressive. But there’s something even more impressive than dying for your friends. Dying for your enemies. Both Batman and Jesus did this.
The greatest story ever told
I genuinely thought The Dark Knight Rises was going to be a tragedy. When the nuclear bomb went off, I thought it was all over and Nolan had killed off Batman. When Jesus lay dead in the tomb, his disciples were devastated. But Jesus wasn’t going to go down in history as a guy who said some nice things and told people to be nice to each other. He rose from the dead, demonstrating he was God.
Batman also seemingly rose from the dead!
There’s some other possible similarities I haven’t mentioned (both Batman and Jesus descend into and rise out of hell / the pit. Could Catwoman be Judas?)
Of course, there are many aspects to the final Batman film that bear no resemblance. Jesus didn’t kiss a girl, let alone two! Neither did he drive a motorbike (although that would have been awesome). The overall storyline from sin and suffering to resurrection and redemption is striking. We all love a good story. It seems that 2000 years on, the themes of the greatest story ever told are continuing to influence popular culture. And rightly so.
For me, it has been ‘read’.
I’m the guy who loves to browse and buy books. As I write this, there are eight books to my right that are unfinished. Plus two eBooks I’m reading on my iPhone.
My excuse has always been that I don’t have the time to read. I have time to buy the books – that’s quick and easy. But no time to read them.
* * *
This blog is good at a couple of things…I’m not sure what they are, but I am sure this small corner of cyberspace has something to offer. Even if what’s being offered is only consumed by three people per day.
Anywho, there’s one thing this blog has been consistently bad at. Predicting future trends.
The chances are you don’t stop by here to find out what’s the next big movie, CD or fashion accessory.
What I have tried to provide is analysis and reviews of those things (apart from the last one), once they’ve arrived.
But all that could be about to change…
* * *
Back to the reading…or lack of it.
I was engaging in the usual browsing-with-every-intention-of-buying-but-no-intention-of-reading-this-decade attitude.
The shop’s name was Waterstones. For the benefit of my American friends, Waterstones is pretty much the sole remaining bookshop chain in the country. We’ve lost the rest to that great British invention – the Web.
I came across a novel called The Hunger Games. I’d heard a couple of people talking about it and was aware the film was coming out in a matter of weeks. £7.99 though…hmm let’s see what my ingenious iPhone app ‘ShopSavvy’ thinks of that!
One look at the barcode and ShopSavvy informs me I can get it for £4 in ASDA, which is 0.2km away.
The rest is history.
I cannot remember the last time I read a 400 page novel in one week.
It was totally gripping. I haven’t read hundreds of novels and I’m no expert. But to say I “enjoyed” The Hunger Games is a massive understatement.
You see, the problem is not having enough time to read. The problem is I haven’t been reading books that I’ve actually wanted to read. I might have liked the idea of reading them when I bought them, but that feeling soon worn off and I simply didn’t make it a priority.
Not having enough time is never the problem. The problem is making the wrong decisions on how to use your time.
I finished a 400 page novel in a week as busy as any other week. So what did I stop doing in order to make time to read? I have no idea, but whatever it was, I obviously didn’t miss it! It was probably Facebook or something trivial like that.
So let me attempt to make a prediction without falling flat on my face.
The Hunger Games is the next big thing. When the film hits our cinema screens during the last weekend of March, it will create a stir comparable to Twilight and Harry Potter. The only difference will be The Hunger Games is more real, gritty and powerful than anything Myers or Rowling will ever write.
I’ve nailed my colours to the mast. I’m team Collins.
So what are you waiting for? Grab the book and get reading, then watch the film.
You have time.
I’ve become somewhat envious of little JP and his Cineworld unlimited card! He’s spent the last 3 months watching every film that’s come out (and by ‘every’, I mean ‘every‘. He even sat through Twilight. But we won’t talk about that sordid event.)
It seems like yesterday that my parents were discussing whether a 15 rated (or even 12 rated) film was suitable for little Josh to watch. In reality it was well over a decade ago.
Anyway, now that I’ve suitably embarrassed little brother to my hundreds (I wish!) of readers, the point is; I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight. To be honest, I didn’t really think about it. I merely assumed the film wouldn’t be too “full on”.
I certainly didn’t expect to witness seven men being torn apart by wolves. Ok, ok so they didn’t all get eaten. One man fell out of a tree…and then got eaten by wolves. Another man went to go and make some yellow snow…and then got eaten by wolves. Another man…ok you get the picture.
The storyline is simple. A plane crashes in the middle of what Alaska. Only a handful of people survive, and most of those end up being attacked and killed by…you guessed it. Wolves!
The film verged on horror – a genre I absolutely detest. I’m not ashamed to say I actually looked away for two of the adverts that were shown before the film even started! I am simply not built to sit there and be “entertained” by having the hell scared out of/into me.
The Grey is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat, it makes you lean back, as far away from the action as your seat will allow! It makes you jump numerous times. My heart was given more of a workout watching the film than the bike ride home (in -5 temperatures I hasten to add).
Which brings me to my next point…the setting of this film is bleak. You’ll be pleased to know one man doesn’t get eaten by wolves. No, he freezes to death.
To summarise: The film is about death, people being ripped to shreds, and more death.
And I loved it.
The Grey is magnificent.
It would be easy to read my above words and come away thinking this is some kind of Alaskan Final Destination 54 (or whatever number they are up to now). But nothing could be further from the truth.
We’re barely 20 minutes into the film, and death number one is upon us. Yet enough character development appears to have taken place to make the scene where a man’s life ebbs away, genuinely emotional. It’s a powerful piece of cinema, full of maturity and reality.
The Grey doesn’t shy away from discussing the important things in life. God, the afterlife and both the beauty and cruelty of this world are discussed, and the latter demonstrated, in some detail.
If anyone comes out as describing this film as “anti-Christian”, let me know so I can give them a good kicking! Sure, the lead character doesn’t use the nicest language to describe the God he doesn’t believe in, (isn’t it strange how atheists pray?) but at least God got a mention!
These days us Christians tend to be left with a) mindless, senseless, emotionless tripe which is about as interested in the deeper things in life as I am in Twilight. b) A dreadful “Christian film” where everyone lives happily ever after because they believe in Jesus. I think I despise b) more than a).
The writers of The Grey have done a superb job in raising some of the most profound and important questions human beings face. The Grey offers no answers. It merely presents life in all its grittyness, adds in a couple of opinions and leaves us to mull over possible answers.
Sometimes it can be difficult to connect with the characters on screen. I have nothing in common with the characters in The Grey, other than I’m a man and I want to survive! I know it’s ridiculous – the film is total fiction – yet I had the deepest respect for each of the characters. There’s no glitz and glam. Just real men, struggling on and fighting for a vital yet doomed cause. Liam Neeson’s character is particularly convincing. I’ve never seen him act so well.
It’s been a long time since I saw a film as down to earth, gritty and real as this. Suicide, panic, hallucinations, being eaten alive. It doesn’t sound like the best film, does it? But for those of us who are fed up with “Harry met Sally, they fell in love had 2.5 kids and lived happily ever after”, will see this film for what it truly is. A breath of fresh air. It’s strange how men being hunted by a pack of wolves can make you appreciate the best things in life. No word I type will be able to fully explain that. So I guess it’s best if you just go watch the film…
One of the films we watched was The Sweet Smell of Success (1957). My comment was although I enjoyed it, I’d like to see it remade and updated for today’s culture and society. It wasn’t meant to be a criticism of the film, but my teacher went mental. “How can you say that, Sam? This is a classic film! You can’t remake this!”
Some people can get very passionate about the issues surrounding the title of this blog. Some consider pieces of art to have a kind of “holy” quality. It could be a song that can’t be covered or a film that can’t be remade. The argument is often: “You can’t improve on perfection.”
Others take a different view. Art isn’t holy. It’s there to be twisted, edited and improved on. This can be a constant evolution, like the songwriter who re-writes his song 50 times over, making adjustments and improvements. And even once he’s spent hours writing and recording the masterpiece, there’s always the possibility that someone else will pick it up and do it better on a future date.
Which view is correct?
I enjoyed the remake of The Italian Job, although the original was a classic. I thought the remake of King Kong was dreadful but loved the original. As for Planet of The Apes, I think the jury is still out. I enjoyed it at the time, but if I watched it now I would probably pull it apart.
Can art always be improved, or are some films/songs untouchable? Maybe some films can be improved but others shouldn’t be?Let me know your thoughts below…
Do you ever have moments in life when your hit with a feeling that there is something deeply wrong, not just with the world, but with you.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said: “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” In other words, evil isn’t always ‘out there’, it begins in the human heart. All of us are broken.
I had one of those moments where I realised there’s something profoundly wrong with my own heart this week. It happened when I was on my way to the cinema to see Battle: LA. For those who haven’t seen the trailer, the plot is basically, aliens attack, millions die all over the world, but the only city that matters is Los Angeles, where a team of American Marines kick butt!
As I walked towards Cineworld, it occurred to me that I was about to subject myself to watching 2 hours of destruction for no reason other than my own entertainment. A matter of days before, an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, killing thousands. I had watched about 20 minutes (if that) of footage from Japan…yet I seemed almost “disinterested”? In fact I was so immune to the suffering in this world, that I was prepared to watch and even be entertained by 2 hours of devastating pictures of a fictional disaster. I refrained from looking at pictures of Japan, but was about to revel in fake suffering…just because it’s fake and the special effects were cool.
Dubbed ‘the greatest film ever’ by countless critics and audiences, Citizen Kane is highly regarded.
The film tells the story of Charles Foster Kane, a megalomaniacal and incredibly rich newspaper editor whose dying word ‘Rosebud’ prompts investigation from a journalist named Thompson.
Desperate to get to the meaning behind this vague word, Thompson sets about interviewing many of Kane’s friends and acquaintances, as well placed flashbacks give depth and context to the unfolding storyline.
Despite being 70 years old, the film still packs a punch. Even today, few would doubt the innovative cinematography, and narrative structure of the film.
Citizen Kane has quite rightly been described as a “visual masterpiece”, but when you scrape beneath the well filmed surface, it becomes clear the overall plot is disappointing and doesn’t hold the viewer’s interest.
Overall Citizen Kane well worth a watch, but perhaps it’s time for the film to lose its ‘best film ever’ connotation? Even classics can be improved on.
Veronica Guerin is a gripping thriller about the famed Irish reporter who was assassinated by drug barons in 1996. Guerin is portrayed as naive, and as she scrambles to meet the big players of Dublin’s drug culture, her behaviour becomes increasingly irrational and desperate.
Guerin is played by the superb Cate Blanchett whose Irish accent is practically perfect. Her performance is so good that it puts almost every other actor to shame.