Sunday, October 19, 2008

Summary of The Dark Knight

The movie essentially focuses on the conflict between The Joker and the Batman. In the beginning of the movie, we see the Joker killing his own henchmen in his bank robbery. This is a radical departure of the common criminals who believe in honour, respect. The Joker believes in “whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger”.
Later on, the Joker offered his services to the mob bosses, saying that he wanted half of the total money they have in exchange for killing Batman. The mob bosses initially ridicule the Joker, then after combined efforts from the Batman, Lieutenant Jim Gordon, and Gotham’s D.A. Harvey Dent, the whole mob goes down. That’s when they let the clown loose.
The first threats came from the Joker in when he killed one of the batman copycats and swing his corpse just right outside the mayor’s window, when the mayor was looking outside the window. The copycat had his lower face painted white with a wide red smile, trademark of the Joker. On the joker card attached to the corpse, there are words printed “WILL THE REAL BATMAN PLEASE STAND UP?”
Then in the video named “Batman dead?” that was broadcasted immediately after the corpse is lowered down, the Gotham Cable News, GCN warned that the video is disturbing.
The video started with the copycat still alive but tied to a chair in a meat storage room. The Joker was holding the camera. And he said, “Tell them your name.” The beaten up copycat said, “Brian Douglas.” The Joker started to get excited and laughed a little, “Are you the real Batman?” “No.” The Joker while trying to sound surprised in spite of his soft, creepy, Joker laugh, “No?” Then came again, “No.” “Then why are you dressed up like him?” The Joker ended that with an angry tone and then pulled off Brian’s cape, playing with it and laughing. Brian, trying to defend the Batman against the mocking laughs of the Joker, said, “He’s a symbol. Um, (so that) we don’t have to afraid of scum like you.” The Joker with one of his gloved hands shook Brian’s head and said threateningly, “Ya, you do Brian, you really do.” Brian was then reduced to whimpering, which the Joker smoothed with a few strokes of his hand on Brain’s face and said, “Ah shush, shush, shush. So you think the Batman made Gotham a better place? Hmmm? Look at me. LOOK AT ME!” Pointing the camera to his face, “You see this is how crazy Batman’s made Gotham. You want order in Gotham; Batman must take off his mask, and turn himself in. Oh and um everyday that he doesn’t, people will die. Starting tonight. I’m a man of my word. Ha ha ha ha ha...” And then Brian screamed. The video ended there. Presumably the Joker proceeded to kill Brian then.
I shall attempt to show that the video footage above is a carefully planned propaganda by the Joker. Before I do that, I shall continue on the summary of the movie.
The Joker targeted the next 3 victims, The Police Commissioner Loeb, The Judge Surrillo, and the DA, Harvey Dent. This sets off a rat race between the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) with the Batman and the Joker to prevent the killings. Out of the 3, only Harvey Dent survived, and that’s because Bruce Wayne/Batman is there. So the Joker came face to face with the Batman for the first time when the Joker personally came to kill Harvey Dent.
After a fist trade off, Batman realised that the Joker is not an ordinary criminal, as Alfred pointed out to him, “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical like money, they can’t be brought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with; Some men just want to watch the world burn.” That describes the Joker perfectly. As later on the Joker himself said in custody, “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.” And “I am an agent of chaos.” When talking to the newly scarred Harvey Dent.
The next two people were killed purposely to leave a clue to Batman. The next target was Mayor Garcia. With superb skill, the Joker planned the event during the public Obituary of Commissioner Loeb so that Bruce Wayne or Batman will just happen to look out at the window slit that opens up when all the police forces are on alert to protect the Mayor against any sharp shooter. In the ensuing chaos, Lieutenant Jim Gordon apparently got killed.
Batman, having 5 people’s blood on his hand and no way of tracking down the Joker, finally decided to turn himself in and leave the job of fighting for Gotham to Harvey Dent. At the press conference held by Harvey Dent, he defended Batman and got mostly negative responses from the crowd there. “You rather protect an outlaw vigilante than the lives of citizens?” “Things are worse than ever!” “No more dead cops!” “He should turn himself in.” From the reaction of the crowd, it is clear that the Jokers’ message had gone through to the hearts of Gotham. Harvey Dent then turns himself in as Batman. The plan: When the Joker comes after him, the Batman will take on the Joker and catch him.
And sure enough, the race was on in the roads with the Joker trying to kill the police truck containing Harvey Dent and the Batman in close pursuit to stop the Joker. Finally, the Joker was captured with the reappearance and help of Jim Gordon. Gordon was promoted to Commissioner only to find that Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes have gone missing.
From this point on, the story changes as the deal to kill Batman is off, at the conversation between Joker and the Batman inside the police station, the Joker said that “I don’t want to kill you, what would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, no. You, you complete me.” After a desperate attempt to force the locations of Harvey and Rachel out of the Joker, the Batman realised that he has no power, none at all against the Joker as he can’t break his one rule: No killing. The Joker then played a little game where Batman has to choose between saving Rachel or Harvey. Later it turns out that the Joker purposely reverses the location of Rachel and Harvey, resulting in Batman saving a Harvey that doesn’t want to be saved. In hindsight, this is also another elaborate master plan of the Joker as he knew Batman will try and save Rachel, but will ultimately save a broken hearted Harvey which the Joker later persuaded to turn to be the Two Face.
Meanwhile, the Joker escaped out of police custody with a pre-planned bomb. This also demonstrates that the Joker is a criminal mastermind. The Joker then meets with the mobs to get his half of the money to burn it. “This town deserves a better classic criminal.” “It’s not about money; it’s about sending a message. Everything burns.” The Joker then called a live television broadcast of the GCN with Coleman Reese about to expose the identity of Batman and changed the conditions of the game. “I have a vision of a world without Batman, the mob ground down a little profit and the police try to shut them down one block at a time. And it’s so..... boring. I have a change of heart, I don’t want Mr. Reese spoiling everything, but why should I have all the fun? Let’s give someone else a chance. If Coleman Reese isn’t dead in 60 minutes, then I’ll blow up a hospital.”
This time not ignoring the Joker threat, Bruce Wayne busies himself with saving Mr. Reese from the general public of Gotham. The Joker made use of the chaos of transporting the patients of the Gotham General Hospital to talk to a scarred Harvey Dent. “Do I really look like a man with a plan?” “I’m not a schemer; I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things are.” “It’s the schemers that put you to where you are, you were a schemer, you had plans and err look where that got ya.” “Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even when the plan is horrifying.” “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos, I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s bare.” Harvey Dent thus becomes the Two Face.
After abducting one of the buses that contain the people to evacuate the hospital, the Joker made them a hostage situation while giving another video for GCN broadcasting. GCN’s own Mike Engel read a script by the Joker:
Mike Engel: I'm Mike Engel for Gotham Tonight. What does it take to make you people join in? You failed to kill the lawyer. I've got to get you off the bench--
The Joker: Bench...
Mike Engel: And into the game.
The Joker:
Mike Engel: Come nightfall this city is mine...
The Joker: Mine...
Mike Engel: ...and anyone left here plays by my rules.
The Joker: ...rules.
Mike Engel: If you don't want to be in the game,
Mike Engel: get out now... But the bridge and tunnel crowd are sure in for a surprise. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Thus another Joker reversal, by stating the tunnels and bridges are dangerous, and making the people of Gotham to believe that their city is not save when nightfall, the Joker ensures a sufficiently big crowd of people on the ferries that are transporting out and also ensuring that commissioner Gordon will make sure the prisoners of Gotham will not stay in the city during the night, one ferry will be filled with the prisoners, another by the citizens of Gotham.
Then announcing on the ferry “a social experiment” the Joker continued, “each of you have a remote to blow out the other boat. At midnight I’ll blow you all up, if however one of you presses that button, I’ll let that boat live. So who’s it’s gonna be? Harvey Dent’s most wanted scum bag collection or the sweet innocent civilians? You choose. Oh and you might want to decide quickly cause the people on the other boat may not be quite so noble.” And various reactions of the crowds initially wanted to blow the other boat. But at the end, they didn’t choose to do it. As Batman said to the Joker, “What were you trying to prove, that deep down, everyone’s exactly as you? You’re alone.” “This city just showed you that it’s full of people ready to believe in good.”
Back to the hostage buses, the Joker put the hostages into clown masks, forcing Batman to save them from the SWAT team of the GCPD. As the Batman said, “It’s not that simple, with the Joker it never is.” After locating the Joker at last, Batman had a fist fight with the Joker and ended the victor. However the Joker still has an ace up his sleeves. “You didn’t think I’ll risk the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fist fight with you?” “I took Gotham's white knight, and brought him down to our level. It wasn't hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little...push.”
After that, Batman confronts Two Face and then at the end, in a conversation with Commissioner Gordon, Gordon said, “The Joker won.” “The Joker took the best of us and torn him down, the people will lose hope.” “5 dead, 2 of the cops.” Batman replied, “They won’t, they must never know what he did.” “The Joker cannot win.” “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I could do those things because I’m not a hero, not like Dent. I killed those people, that’s what I can be.” Thus saving the reputation of Harvey Dent, and the hope of the people of Gotham.

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