Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie/Music Monday: The Dark Knight, continued

This is my first installment of my new Monday feature, Movie/Music Mondays. I already posted my review for The Dark Knight. But this film is so big with so many ways to approach it, I'm going to add some more thoughts. And I'm going to apply to the film that which I apply to the books I read:

What I Learned As a Writer from The Dark Knight

To paraphrase the 1992 Clinton campaign, It's the Characters, Stupid.

TDK blows stuff up with the best of them. In re-watching Batman Begins and all through TDK, I was surprised how damaging Batman is to, say, malls, garbage cans, monorail systems, windows, etc. There is a whole of of destruction going on here.

But that's not what makes these movies tick. It's the people. And TDK picks up where Begins left off: with the people. If we wanted just a movie vehicle where stuff gets blown up, there are other movies that fill that prescription. But Nolan and company make us care about the people in these films and makes even a billionaire accessible to us small-timers.

Little nuances throughout the film zero in on character traits, flaws and all. The character of Harvey Dent (warning: for those who don't know his fate and want to be surprised, stop reading now until you've watched the film)....
is quite interesting as portrayed by Aaron Eckhart and written by Nolan and his brother. Some critics have cited Dent's fall as not believeable. I think it is. When faced with a loved one being hurt, Dent digs deep into that which most of us have: a darker interior. Eckhart relishes these scenes and he delivers a shocking performance, especially considering we've only seen the public Dent and some of the love-struck Dent with Rachel. Nolan had established Dent's character as unflappable but with a strong streak of good at all costs. He was willing to be arrested, didn't care that a thug tried to kill him. He was out for the mob's blood and he didn't seem to care that his might also be spilt. And these character traits Dent revealed through action: he punched out the thug; he rode in the armored car as the Joker blasted the truck with a bazooka. Dent was scared, yes, but he kept going because he thought the cause right. He gave little mini speeches but they were merely butressing up what he had already demonstrated with action.

Katie's Holmes's Rachel said it best in Batman Begins: But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.

To paraphrase: It's not the prose that defines a character, it's the characters actions.

Make the actions believeable, the reader will accept and follow. If you have to write a whole bunch of prose to try and instill in the reader who your character is, the reader will stop reading. That is the challenge for all writers and creative artists.

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