Sunday, August 03, 2008

Chris Oldfield on The Dark Knight / Occam's razor is too optimistic.

Chris Oldfield - the Joker and the madman: This is the point, I think, of the Joker - he's almost the ideal existentialist character - action is absurd but is everything.

The chaos of The Joker is one of the things that fascinates me about this film. He interupts the clean good/bad that we might expect from a comicbook villan. He has no easy remedy and can't just be cancelled out by a Hero - though Batman himself isn't a straightforward hero having had to overcome his fear in the first film - as Alfred reminds him, when we fall we must pick ourselves up again. Here the solution is not so simple.

This story is left unresolved (like a typical part 2 of a trilogy). The influential figures behind the scenes try to come to terms with their knowledge, what they think the public need to know and how to bring salvation to Gotham. Wayne's world remains in need of rebuilding and his alter-ego still searches for a place to live. A third part beckons.

The dilemmas of Gordon and Wayne resonate with Andrew Marr's A History of Modern Britain that I've been reading recently. Real-life characters in British politics are not monochrome but complex characters, a mix of good and bad desires and intentions and good and bad performance. Simple analysis will inevitably fall short of understanding what's going on.

Occam's razor is too optimistic. In Nolan's Gotham, a glorious saviour in a batsuit is too simple, too much to swallow. The public - thought not to be able to understand reality - are spun a version they can handle while we sit back and watch the real story. Ours is a divine perspective that can see what's going on in Gotham - a perspective necessary to see through the complexity and shades of grey and meaninglessness.

On leaving the cinema we return to our usual perspective, the world seems defeaningly quiet compared to the wide-lense angle we experience in Nolan's World. In the repetition of daily life, the good, the bad and the chaotic happen around us and to us and on our own we can hardly begin to see the bigger picture.

Kermode speaks:


  1. yikes - a whole label?

    it's an interesting question whether films comment on our world or a totally different world...the whole beauty of fiction is it can create worlds

    so whether a film's *answers* are wrong or right is one question, but if it's a pure thought experiment, the parallels with our own problems are less clear

    - eg perhaps Gotham has no hope of rescue not because there's no 'white knight' but because it's a different world, (eg where good and evil need each other)?

  2. Next time I'm away you can come and guest-blog for me if you like...

    It is the beauty of fiction to create a world that is both like and unlike ours - inevitably the worlds speak to each other.

    I find it interesting that Batman's world isn't all that far from ours - obviously Gotham is modelled on ours, but the superheroes aren't mutants with superpowers but ordinary people with particular character (or just immense resources), which makes it all ring closer to home.