Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dark Knight: Perfection Justified


A lot has been said about The Dark Knight. A lot tends to be said about a film that breaks box office records, and has become one of the biggest money-makers of all time. I am therefore unsurprised that so many of these words are shallow, empty things; even from those that praise the film. I want to talk about this movie whole-heartedly, completely, and most importantly, regardless of how much money it has made.

I will argue that The Dark Knight is a work of art in the highest order of cinematic masterpieces. It owes this status to a great many people. As I have observed, the greatest of all films were the culmination of infinite factors at just the right time to produce something that goes beyond the sum of its parts. These movies defy what is generally considered an ideal production process. Casablanca had more writers than I can count and Blade Runner survived a strike, crew feuds, and budget constraints. But still, all of the contributor’s creative juices ran free despite it, and produced what has become legend.

The Dark Knight owes a good deal to its foundations: over more than seventy years, the characters that inhabit Batman’s universe have been fine tuned from overblown clich├ęs, into meticulously arced perfection. Weeding through this evolution, however, could be considered an insurmountable task. Even more so than its predecessor, Batman Begins, which largely inhabited a time span untouched by many Batman writers, this film finds itself knee deep in the roots of the Batman mythos.

This balancing act is handled with masterful bravado in the hands of Jonathan Nolan. His script is dense. Perfectly dense. It is interesting to note that very little was altered when brought to the screen by his brother, the Director Christopher Nolan. Only the slightest instances of dialogue variation can be found, and this is a natural and fluid part of the filmmaking process; a compliment, really, that the actors are so devoted to the goals of the script that they wish to make calculated alterations to seemingly miniscule words.

This film has an ambitious workload. It deals with the core of several tertiary-yet-iconic characters, all acting as conceptual foes for the Batman to further define himself against. It is this development of the ideals of Batman that serve as the basis for the entire film. The defining point that is accepted and supported by all elements involved. Batman is a complex character with mature aims and a set of motivations that goes far beyond normal “hero” understanding. It is for this reason that everything he comes into contact with be optimally placed to allow the character to triangulate his own position, and further define himself.

Compelling plot and character interconnections do well to describe the films concepts and theme, but they are also accompanied by many instances of visual reinforcement that make it all the more complete and well-rounded. Let’s look at all of these elements, on their own successful and compelling, and how they strengthen the overall bat-narrative.

Let’s get this one out of the way first: The Joker. A behind the scenes tragedy may have given this character an unfair amount of attention around the release of the film, but I am confident that in the many years to come, the excitement will die out, and this role can be appreciated appropriately. The Joker is portrayed here as Batman’s diametric opposite in terms of ideals. The Joker is not mad. He denies it himself when charged by the mobster Gambol, “I’m not. No I’m not,” he says. It’s true; as shown in the movie, the Joker is in complete control of everything he does, regardless of how “mad” the ends, his means are exactly in line with his absolute dedication to disorder.

“I’m an agent of Chaos.” He challenges Batman in this way. After the criminal death of his parents, Bruce Wayne took up the image of Batman to rid Gotham City of criminality by subjecting them to the order of justice in society. Batman is the embodiment of the people’s power to demand Justice. This is noted by another character, district attorney Harvey Dent, who says, in response to a question of who appointed the Batman, “We did. All of us who stood by and let scum take control of our city.” Batman is the people. He wishes to inspire them. Unfortunately, his inspiration proves to have several unexpected ramifications.

At the opening of the film, Batman is finds himself at odds with a group of people dressed in his image. These brutish characters, introduced early, lay the delicate groundwork for the horrors to come. Batman’s presence and dedication to justice through grand and theatrical means has elevated crime. “I meant to inspire good,” he says, “not madness.” Unfortunately, by upping the ante with the level of his theatrics, he created the playing field by which the Joker was able to come to power. If not for a perceived need to eradicate the Batman by the mob, they would have never allowed a “freak” like the Joker to ascend their ranks. This concept of the criminal world’s slow acceptance of the newly arising freak culture is established perfectly with the inclusion of Scarecrow; this time around being portrayed as a lowly drug dealer.

Also in this early drug-deal sequence, Batman is attacked by the dogs of a mob member (The Chechen), creating a plot necessity for a new suit. This plot necessity makes way for the nature of the Joker/Batman conflict to be strengthened visually. Their costumes are completely contrasting in nature. The Joker’s is a vile, messy, eyesore of an outfit; an extension of his dedication to chaos. In turn, Batman’s suit in this film reflects his own dedication to order. His suit is an intertwining complexity of parts, working in perfect order to allow him agility with his movements. These evocative images are hardly the arbitrary byproduct of a dog attack.

There is recurring “dog” imagery throughout the film. Quite literally, the film ends with dogs chasing him away from the scene of Dent’s death. This embodies Batman’s final plea for Gordon to “set the dogs on me.” This image is strengthened with verbal mentions of dogs. In fact, the symbol of dogs as Batman’s aggressors started in Batman Begins; when mob boss Carmine Falcone taunted young Bruce by saying before his father was murdered he “begged. Like a dog.” Combine this with the Joker’s dog like head-wag out the window of a cop car, and his self proclaimed analogy, to a “dog chasing cars” and you’ve got a recurring, effective motif.

The Joker’s dedication to chaos is evident in textual (spoken) examples, certainly, but there are also several other finite examples of actions and attitudes that illustrate the extent and versatility with which he uses this idea. As shown in the sequence where the Joker is attempting to escape imprisonment, he calls to the chaos within the very officer standing watch over him, Officer Stephens. There are hints that this may indeed be the method by which the Joker is able to attain a following: the madness portrayed in his goons is palpable (specifically in the character of Thomas Schiff, whom Batman describes as “The kind of mind the Joker attracts”), and in one sequence we even see a harsh instance of his recruitment: he breaks a pool cue into two shards, making men fight for their lives and spot on his “team.”

This is also a finely tuned setup for the Ferry sequence at the end of the film, which situationally makes clear the Joker’s stated dictum: “Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.” The Joker believes that, as previously stated, his mindset comes as naturally to him as it would anybody, generally in reference to the two ferries of people, and more specifically in terms of another defining character in this film. In one sense, he is correct. He was, very methodically, able to construct a situation that bent Harvey Dent into madness.

The ferry situation is fascinating on its own. A tense drama plays out onboard as each boat is given the detonation button for the other. It provides the Joker an opportunity to showcase his belief, and what better way than Gotham Citizens blowing themselves to bits? It is important however, that Batman, as the representative of the people, never for a minute allows himself to believe they will. “There won’t be any fireworks,” he insists to the Joker, who is eagerly awaiting the explosion. Indeed, no explosion comes. This display of good will on the part of Gotham is the priming that allows Batman to make the most difficult decision of the film, involving another fascinating character.

James Gordon comes into wholly new territory in this film. It is amazing that a supporting character that could have so easily remained stagnant was awarded a beautiful and compelling arc that ties directly in with the film’s main dilemma. The story being told necessitates his character made a very, very difficult decision. A heartbreaking decision. Thankfully, we are saved from total, all encompassing bleakness in the way his character is built up this time around:

Everything Gordon does in this film further individuates himself as a person. He is self-sustaining. He doesn’t NEED the Batman, as we are shown, and when the grim situation dictates that he turn his back on the partner he’d grown to know, we feel comfortable allowing him to do so. It doesn’t take any weight off the situation, but it slightly loosens the wrench on our hearts. Look at Gordon’s choice to fake his own death: he wasn’t going to leave his family’s safety in Batman, or anyone’s, hands. He took charge. Look at his rise to power as newly appointed Commissioner after the murder of Loeb. We’re ready when he’s forced to “turn the dogs” on our hero. (Who isn’t, really, a hero.)

Why does Dent fall in the first place? It was the debilitating effects of his extremism. In the face of immense tragedy, it pushed him into dangerous territory. In his absolute image of justice, he could not accept what happened to him, and was forced to don an entirely different, but equally extreme set of rules. He bowed down to fate, because “the only morality in a cruel world is chance: unbiased, unprejudiced … fair.” He gives everyone the same chance the Joker gave Rachel: 50/50.

Watching Two-Face being born is haunting. It was there, laying dormant, ready for the Joker to drag it out into daylight. It happens in the scene where Harvey awakens in the hospital and sees his coin: first, the bright side. Rachel. He sees Rachel, and he smiles. Then he turns the coin over, and it’s power is born with its burn and mangled other side. Rachel is dead. Life. Death. It is here he gives the coin this power. He submits himself to fate, chance etc. The Joker didn’t birth or manipulate Dent into Two-Face … he just coaxed him into action.

Batman is able to witness this mentality towards the climax. He sees how Dent is a slave to chance, and decides to speak on the importance of choice: “What happened to Rachel wasn’t chance. We decided to act. We three.” This is Batman defining himself against Dent. This is him putting his priority on choice, and acknowledging his ability to choose. (Which he will be forced to act upon just moments later.)

In order to make this definition of choice clear, Batman and Dent are paralleled throughout the film. Obviously they both have similar aims. More subtly, their attitudes are even compared. Down to the littlest details, such as both characters being show disarming the un-fired weapon of an attacker. Bruce’s Ballerina date posits that Dent could even BE Batman. Not to be outdone, later in the film (to give the real Batman a chance to intercept the Joker) he admits falsely to the public that he IS Batman. It also helps that both characters be involved with the same woman.

Rachel is in love with both Bruce and Harvey. Understandable, as we have seen the movie seems to portray them very similarly. Both of their characters having a relationship with Rachel helps define them as separate characters in response to a tragic event: her death. Does Bruce descent into madness as Harvey does? Does he abandon his ideals as Batman, just as Harvey abandons his? Her death is just as deeply felt by Bruce as it is by Harvey (“Why was it me, who was the only one who lost everything?” to which Batman replies “It wasn’t.”), and yet Batman’s dedication never wavers, even in the darkest of times, and gravest of decisions.

Let’s talk about that final decision. That decision to cover up the atrocities committed after the fall of Harvey Dent. The entire movie sets up this moment. And let’s be honest, it takes a hell of a lot to make this choice believable: Harvey must be set up as an overzealous defender of absolute justice, his importance to the city must be unquestionable, and the effect of his reputations tarnishing must have detrimental effect to the city.

This is done both subtly and broadly; from people calling him the “White Knight”, or mentioning his past investigations, to a brash, over-the-top visual demonstration of both his importance and extremism: the prosecution of over 500 criminals in a single trial. This establishes the instability of his image. If anyone, cop, lawyer, anyone, got one iota of something dirty in Dent’s past or a shred of doubt to his image, all those thugs are back on the street. It’s literally established by the plot that if Harvey falls, as he does, crime will rise. The city will suffer.

Sure, this decision is made literally before our eyes, but it is also mirrored and strengthened elsewhere in the film. The final intercut moments enforce the recurring theme of a symbolic truth taking precedence over actual fact. This is manifest in Alfred’s burning of Rachel’s letter, as well as the hostage situation at the Pruitt Building. Here, Batman is placed in a parallel situation: he knows the true nature of the deceptive situation, and is forced to appear villainous and out of character. (when fighting the “hostages”, which are, in fact, goons of the Joker.)

Also in these final montage moments, we see his dedication to Gotham is the same dedication he has to the Lucius Fox character. As the in-flux Batman character observes and begins to understand the atrocious mentality of the Joker (thought the kindly help of his butler, Alfred) he understands that the stakes are his image as Batman. The Joker wants this image squandered. He convinces the mob of this, and the ideological “murder” of Batman becomes everyone’s goal. Batman realizes that he will have to venture into the gray area of acceptability.

Thus is born a viciously awesome plot/theme/character device: a vast, bat-sonar imaging device that allows Batman to image Gotham in 3d. This combined with voice recognition allows him to pinpoint an individual’s location. A tool he will ultimately use to locate the Joker. The conflict of this item encompasses one of the movie’s own great conflict: at what cost do we combat terrorism? For batman, he realizes it is at the cost of his own image. Something he becomes willing to give up for Gotham.

He puts this machine in the hands of Fox, who he very well knows would be morally against this device. In the final moments, he rewards the dedication of this character, just as he does the citizens of Gotham, by pre-programming the machine’s self destruction. This machine is the full extent of Batman’s willingness to compromise his rules for sake of combating the Joker. A goal, we find, is primal to the film’s finale.

As if that weren’t enough tension, Harvey’s fall is also tied to the Joker. Letting the city see the fall of Harvey would prove, in the public consciousness, that the ideals of the Joker ultimately win out over those of the Batman. There’s a touchingly simple line, as Batman realizes all of this. Barely seeping from his tired mouth, he forms the words: “But the Joker cannot win.”

He’ll do anything to protect the image of the hero the city needs: Dent. The good Dent. He’s so tied to Gotham, that he’s willing to step down and tarnish his own image in support of a false one. An image he deems worthy of the city. An image he thinks they deserve. More than he deserves his own. And he turns the burnt side of Dent to the shadows, leaving his untouched face gleaming. A visual indication of an internal choice.

This decision calls to the best in all of us: the selfless, the honorable, the caring, the dedicated.

The Joker lost because of these things.

I wish I could go through scene by scene, and list every detail that contributes to the brilliance of this film, as it deserves that kind of attention. In the interest of brevity, I hope this preliminary look at the thematic and conceptual content of this movie proves interesting and possibly enlightening for those intimidated by the sheer mass of content.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Brief Critical Analysis of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Film Trilogy

Originally published on Jun 14, 2007.

Every film or work of textual literature has two lives: that which is surfaced and literal, and that which is implied or can be derived. Each can overlap, and each individual film places a different priority upon them. Whether or not the thematic structure (as the “anti-surface” shall hitherto be referred) is implied, it will manifest itself once gazed upon by an observer: the audience. Therefore, the thematic structure cannot be denied, even if not intended, if supported with inarguable fact referenced from the work itself. This allows an interpretation to be false, and another, in turn, to be legitimate if not ignorant of the film’s content. The film’s content is of my concern, for actual intent to be derived would necessitate information outside the content of the film itself: a derivation this analysis has little use or interest in. Be forewarned.

Cinema has a long history of films that harbor ambitious themes, be them mythological or philosophical, veiled behind a commonplace genre. Star Wars reinvigorated classic mythology for a new generation. The Matrix contemporized countless philosophies and religious concepts while striking its immediate audience as little more than an innovative set of action films. (An achievement, in and of itself, not to be sniffed at.) The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, now complete with the release of At World’s End, might seem to be just another blockbuster action/adventure leviathan. Herein will be presented an interpretation of the ambition these movies carry – the scrutiny they hold up to – including a complex and literarily potent portrayal of freedom, choice, responsibility, and love through the philosophy of existentialism.

The first film in the series, The Curse of the Black Pearl, sets the stage while standing alone as a complete work. (A feat that all three films are, amazingly, able to achieve.) We are introduced to the primary characters; each introduction indicative of that character's position in the story. The trilogy itself begins and ends with a detached interval of time, beginning with a scene set eight years before the action of the film. Therefore, our first introduction to two of the primary characters has them played by younger performers; in line with this, the second appearance of these characters necessitates ANOTHER introduction, not of the new character, but new performer. Elizabeth Swann, first shown to us a young girl, is fascinated by the concept of piracy, shown effectively through her childish enthuse: “I think it’d be quite exciting to meet a pirate.” The first of the other two primary characters she comes into contact with is Will Turner, shown floating in the ocean next to the wreckage of an attacked ship. When this initial scene ends, it is implied that it may have just been the dreamy recollection of the now seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Swann. This dream serves double duty (as does almost everything in these films), not only introducing a back-story for the characters, but also as reference to push the characters and plot forward. For example, when older Will is introduced, we see him clumsily break a candelabrum (character bit!) while delivering a newly forged sword (follow that sword!) for Elizabeth’s father, the Governor of Port Royal, to present to the newly promoted Commodore James Norrington.

Will and Elizabeth’s relationship is set up meticulously in the first film, and carried throughout the subsequent two. Will’s dedication to Elizabeth is the first indication of his overarching function in the entirety of the trilogy. Will makes every major decision in his life based on Elizabeth. Elizabeth is captured by the dreaded pirate Barbossa, captain of the legendary ship The Black Pearl. Will makes every effort to find and save her. His choices throughout are entirely objective, based entirely on those around him, and not of himself. Which brings us to the third in the trifecta of primary characters:

Captain Jack Sparrow is a man obsessed of his own notoriety. “CAPTAIN, Jack Sparrow, if you please,” he responds when referred to sans his title (despite his complete lack of a ship to ... captain). Jack is Will’s polar opposite. He acts entirely subjectively, basing his decisions solely on himself. Jack’s own viewpoint on life is blatantly stated by him, to Will, in the first film: “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do.” Jack is the epitome of individual freedom, the quintessential pirate for this tale. He seeks the Black Pearl, of which he was captain, until mutinied upon by his first mate Barbossa.

The Curse of the Black Pearl wraps up its immediate concerns; that of a curse on stolen pieces of Aztec gold, placed upon it by the Heathen Gods. (This is the initial reference of a supernatural plotline that reaches its zenith, along with so many others, in the final film.) This curse deprives Barbossa and his crew of human delights, taste, passion, warmth. He is the first of a recurring trend in all three pirate movies: an antagonist who is depicted initially as unfeeling and detached in one way or other, only to be given an inordinate amount of depth and compassion. The other two are introduced in the second film, each having their own of the two pictures for prevalence of this trend.

Davy Jones is an antagonist introduced in the second film of the trilogy, Dead Man’s Chest. He is caretaker of those lost at sea, a cruel man and collector of souls. His appearance and actions initially do present that harsh image, but as his back story is further painted, the poetic nature of his being is revealed. Harsh only because he ripped out his own heart after the loss of his lover, he is the personification of ill-fated love. It is in movie two that the parallels between Davy Jones’ relationship with his own (yet unidentified) lover and Will’s with Elizabeth begin to materialize.

Will’s own situation begins to seem ill-fated as another plot device is introduced: a compass that points to whatever the holder wants most. This compass falls into the hands of Elizabeth, with results surprising to her. Several times she sees its needle point to Jack Sparrow, an attraction not unfounded: her fascination with piracy is established time and again in movie one. Elizabeth’s position as the main character of this trilogy is more clear when the issues of movie two are considered. The clearly subjective Jack and objective Will pivot around the confused Elizabeth, trying to find herself in her conflict between an upper-class upbringing, and in inborn fascination of piracy. It is also in the second film that Will’s objective objectives (forgive me) shift from Elizabeth to the freeing of his father, Bootstrap Bill, from the damned crew of Jones.

The first film has so much on its plate (character introductions, establishing the world, etc) that only when given the time of the second and third films could the thematic structure really begin to take shape. The peak of these character interactions is not fully reached in the first film. Hinted at are the conclusions that can be fully made regarding these characters. The second film also has, sprinkled throughout it, inventive use of foreshadowing. Jack is introduced this time around escaping from a coffin, and during the final duel, he humorously falls into an open grave. Sure enough, come film’s end, Jack is devoured by the deadly beast THE KRAKEN. (Typed in caps for fear of being eaten by an offended KRAKEN.)

The third film, At World’s End, passes the antagonist baton over to Lord Cutler Beckett, introduced in movie two. Of the three, this use of the "unfeeling baddie" has a much more subtle depth in the form of a hinted history with Jack Sparrow. In fact, any blatant compassion for Beckett would deprive his “double duty.” Beckett, quite simply in the continuity of the movie, represents the East India Trading Company. A hitherto unmentioned conflict between The Company and piracy is hinted at in the first film (“had a brush in with the east India trading company, Sparrow?”), shown in the second (the invasion of Elizabeth’s wedding, and subsequent arrest), and brought to full force in the third (the outright hanging of pirates in the film’s opening). Beckett is the face of the unfeeling corporation; the ultimate enemy of individual freedom, that which Jack Sparrow stands for. Beckett’s disconnect is shown perfectly in his final scene: unflinchingly walking the deck of his ship as it is brutally demolished. Hauntingly beautiful, the scene illustrates his character more than any dialogue could.

The Company also helps illustrate one of the most potent themes: freedom. One may think that simply by its opposing the individual freedom, it helps illustrate, but yet again, the plot has helped aid theme. The Company branded Sparrow a pirate, as if he were condemned to his freedom. Not only does this create interesting character nuance, but it also echoes back to existential philosophy, which indicates that humans have absolute freedoms: even the freedom to limit one’s own freedom. The Pirates films take place in a world of absolute freedom, where choices and responsibility rule supreme. Even the film’s supernatural elements are tied into this analogy. Come the third film, it is revealed that long ago, the Pirate Brethren captured the Goddess that ruled the Seas, Calypso, returning rule of the sea to man. Even the supernatural mythos supports a world of absolute human freedoms. In this world (our world?) what is the measure of a good man? The subjective Jack? The objective Will? Perhaps Elizabeth? This is a questioned posed to the audience by the very plot and character of these films. It is primal and epic. How does desire factor into choice?

These films ask the audience questions. They demand the involvement of the viewer. They are a puzzle that needs decoding, and the casual viewer will likely be unable or unw. The complexities of the plot suggest the thematic richness. In order to free his father, Will must sleigh Jones. To sleigh Jones, you must stab his removed heart. If you stab his removed heart, yours must take its place; the ship, the Flying Dutchman, must always have a captain. The Dutchman’s captain can only set foot on land once every ten years, to see the one he truly loves. These plot constructs are a setup for the staggering choice facing Will: he must limit his own freedom to save his father. However, saving his father will detach him from Elizabeth for ten years. (Depending on interpretation, EVERY ten years) Will does stab the heart of Jones, and become the Dutchman’s captain. Tragic? More like the most touching and poetic analogy for love I’ve ever witnessed: two people, choosing to limit each other's individual freedoms for the sake of pursuing freedom as one. What is that, but love?

And even then, there is hope for those who seek it. When Davy Jones approaches his lost love, revealed to be Calypso, he is furious because he said he “did the duty she charged him with” for ten years he ferried lost souls at sea to the land of the dead. Jones is infuriated that after then ten years was up, she wasn’t there! That is the moment at which he broke from his duty, and become the sea life encrusted heartless monster. If indeed the curse was forever, why would he do the job for the first ten years, only to abandon it when she skipped on their date? Curious, but also addressed later in the film. During Jones’ final battle, Jack holds the chest containing his heart and says “I can set you free, mate,” implying that he would stab the heart (a decision Jack had been postulating the entire film). Jones responds: “My freedom was forfeit long ago!” Wait, what? This is new. When considered in conjunction to Jones actions with Calypso, one can interpret that if she DID wait for him, the curse would be broken. THAT would defiantly piss Jones off to the point of quitting his job! This is corroborated by a scene placed AFTER the films end credits: Ten years later, Elizabeth waits with child, and at sunset THE GREEN FLASH appears, and Will sails toward them. The Green Flash was set up previously as the passing of a soul from the land of the dead. For those who seek it, it can be interpreted that the curse was broken, when Elizabeth was true.

Those who seek will be rewarded. If the audience in unwilling to step up to the task, disappointment is imminent. Every word is important, every gesture a story element of its own. Yes this is the paragraph where I answer those who quickly deem these movies not of quality. Of what quality? Sure, it may not be of a quality that can be appreciated in passing. It is of a quality that challenges you. It requires the involvement of audiences who have become passive; audiences who overlooked, in all likelihood, almost everything previously discussed and noted here, and this is just a preliminary analysis. I wrote this from memory. Volumes could be written by those with the drive. Volumes could be written in its defense, and naysayers  often offer incomplete phrases. Want to ignore the thematic structure? Then just stare at the pretty moving pictures, and pipe down. Movies are made for those who actually watch them, not those who just see them.

On books, film, and adaptation ...

Originally published on March 3, 2008. 

Novels are still more respected than films. I think there may be a time when a young person reading that would laugh. A time when biases I find peculiar are so foreign, they would inspire laughter. In the same way that so many comedians now use racism as a form of over-the-top sarcasm. When thinking of things to be made equal, books and films are probably pretty low on the list.

I don't say these things from a desire to advocate movies over books. I see equality in two mediums that compliment each other with their specific strengths. A good decision for a book is not necessarily a good decision for a movie; likewise, the other way around. I hope, in my heart of hearts, that one day "the book was better" will be a nonsensical statement; because, I apologize, it is a nonsensical statement. As if the goodness of a book can negate the goodness of a film. There will be a time, I hope, when a film based on a book will not be set back with some sort of comparative judging before its even been made. Shouldn't a work be judged against the parameters of its own medium?

Adaptation can be a beautiful art. I think the first step to accepting that concept en masse will be to promote film as exactly what it is: no more or less literature than anything ever printed. They hold the same literary place in our lives, and deserve the same attention. They have the same potential and similar restraints. Every art has restraints. Every picture needs a frame.

I love books. I love movies. There will always be stories that can exist in both worlds. There will always be elements of these stories that are made just as powerful, or more so, in the transition. Likewise, there will be elements unfit to exist when adapted. They won't pay off; they won't make sense, they won't fit. For example, in the transition from text to film, one must find cinematic equivalents to the same end as the textual effect of a story element.

Another weird feeling I find running rabid in my discourses is exemplified in the following: "The movie ruined the book!" I would like to think that one's fandom of a book could not be demolished or wavered by something as simple as an adaptation. Have the books been burned? Your memory erased? They haven't. In fact, attention has likely been brought to them, re-opening the doors of discussion and discovery for a wider audience. It makes me question how much they liked the book in the first place. I find this attitude to be true is cases of authorship as well. Alan Moore's reaction to the film version of his book V for Vendetta was nothing short of deplorable, and I expect the same with next year's Watchmen.

A movie should be judged as a movie; a book as a book; and both with equal respect. My insistence and dedication to these feelings does not come from some illusion of superiority, but from a genuine hope that others can be as touched as I have by these works. One can be enlightened, one can be inspired, and one can be forever changed.

Welcome!


This is going to be my outlet for all cinematic musings.
The art of cinema is one that I am deeply passionate about.

I think movies are as deserving of in depth critical analysis as any other literature.

At the time of this writing, I am putting the finishing touches on an analysis of The Dark Knight. Until it is finished, I'll post a few older, still cinema-oriented blogs previously published elsewhere.

All the best!
_N