Full disclosure: this is not a review to read before you see the film. Go see the film. Return to ClashDaily.com and read the review.
It is tough to evaluate this film, apart from the tragedy which took place in Aurora. If there was ever a film which could become even more important in the light of such a tragedy, The Dark Knight Rises is such a film. It goes without saying that an entertaining film will never be more important than the loss of 12 lives and the violence which forced itself upon so many innocent movie-goers Friday morning, but amazingly it is to this very situation that the film speaks.
As Selina Kyle says in a memorable sequence, “There is a storm coming…” We see hints of this storm, in the streets of Spain and Greece. From the steps of Madison, Wisconsin to the squalid tent-cities throughout the country last fall, crowds of masked men and women teeter on a knife’s edge between civil disobedience and outright mob violence. And at times, the storm roars and blood is spilled in movie theaters, shopping malls, and military bases, on the front lines of war and far behind the thin red line, in places which should be refuges from the madness and violence.
This world is shifting. The face of chaos and feverish covetousness is emerging from behind polite social masks and throwing off cultural prohibitions to march through streets filled with broken glass. In certain prescient moments, this film plays the Ghost of Christmas Future to our Ebenezer, should we continue down the path we are traveling.
What Nolan’s brilliant trilogy has done so well is to introduce us to villains that harness the evils which exist in the human heart for their own purposes. When Bane tells Batman that he will destroy Gotham City, he says that he will do so “with hope”. Just as a nuclear reactor can either be used to sustain life or to end it, he understands that hope is a tool which can be used as medicine or a weapon. As conservatives, we understand this. Tools like guns or derivatives are only as evil as the person who wields them.
When we hear people use words like “hope” and “tolerance”, we understand that there is no morality (or immorality) inherent in these words, but that is to be found (or not found) in the actions which follow these words. Just as the citizens of New York in this film are held willing captives in their own graves by the specter of hope, so too are millions and millions of fellow Americans willing to sit like frogs in a pot, while the water is slowly heated around them.
One of the most interesting dynamics of the film is the conflict between the populism of Bane and the populism of Batman. It’s very much the same dynamic which is playing out in front of us in America today, although our super-villains aren’t as honest as Bane. The populism embodied by Bane and his troops says, “We level the playing field by destroying the playing field. We will give power to the people to craft whatever world their [wicked] hearts can imagine. There are no rules; there is only strength and fear.”
Contrast this with the populism of Batman which says that anyone can be a hero, from a cop who comforts a grieving child to a thief who wants a fresh start. That we all must stand and fight the chaos around us in whatever manner we are able. One vision builds. One destroys. This is ever the struggle of this world. The few who strive to build and maintain order, and must always stave off those that would watch it burn.
This is one of the most important films I have seen in awhile. Not only is it thoroughly enjoyable and masterfully-written and acted, it has put a finger on the very pulse of America. The lesson is clear. Even when the future is the darkest and the bulwarks of the world we’ve known fall, one by one, we must strike back against the forces of chaos. We must fight the vision which threatens our way of life and sometimes even our lives. Whether it manifests itself as a madman, armed to the teeth and bent on murder, or as a politician who continues to strip us of our rights and our humanity, we must fight.
But most of all, we must fight the battle in our own hearts. We know that it would be far easier to put down our signs and get in line for free government hand-outs, but the price of that ease is too great to bear. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”
I enthusiastically recommend this film and give it 5 stars. Thank you for taking the time to read my review.