Sunday, July 20, 2008

For granted, traipsing through.

To warn you, basically, this post is about the new Batman movie. If you haven't seen it, and are going to see it, I'm going to have a paragraph about the rest of my life, and then all The Dark Knight. Don't read.

I've got the house to myself at the moment, as my family is picking up my older sister from the airport. Family, I love you all, but there are times when being alone in a safe, comfortable place with music going fairly loud (Thrice - Alchemy Index Vol. III, in case you are curious about my listening habits) is pretty much entirely enjoyable to me. I've realized something about myself these last couple weeks. I really was made to be in Kabul. My challenges there seem to be fairly different from a lot of the challenges that other people enumerate. I don't mind being stuck on the compound, even though I say that just because it seems like I'm supposed to. I rarely got really, really lonely, most of the time, I transmuted other emotions into loneliness because that's what seemed right. I feel like I could be in that situation for a long, long time. Which is why I half expect things to change. Growth happens, and you don't usually grow through the same situation twice, I find. So I know next year will be different, and I can't prepare for the differences, on the fact that it will be different.

Don't read this next part if you don't want The Dark Knight spoiled.

This was seriously the best theather experience I have ever had. That movie, in the theater, makes almost every other movie I have seen feel like a weak-kneed, bright happy kids movie. The acting, except for a few places, was fantastic, the pacing amazing, the plot phenomenal. This was a dark, intense movie, and not for someone who didn't like where Batman Begins took the Batman character. OK, this has so far been generic, but seriously, this is your last chance to not read about The Dark Knight.

The moral complexity of this movie was amazing for a pop-culture, comic book summer blockbuster movie. There are so many questions to think of about the heights and depths of depravity, redemption, heroism, justice, valor. Batman was borderline phsycotic in the last movie, but in this one, the Joker was a flat out insane sociopath. But in creating the character, they didn't just turn him into a cackling nutcase, like they made Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face in Batman Forever. No, they made him a very intelligent, methodical, sociopath. His questions about the nature of Batman, the nature of himself, the nature of who they were together, created a lot of really great and deep opportunities to think about human nature, and what it means to be fallen. Harvey Dent, D.A. and then Two-Face, created a truly complex character. Do you judge him by what he became, or by what he was? Do you account him any less because of his fall at the end, or do you account him a great man who did not respond to tragedy well. And outside of the 'hero' or 'villian' characters, the conflict, the moral conflict inside of Lucius Fox, Rachel Dawes, Jim Gordon, even Alfred, was brilliant. I can't say enough good about this movie. Yes, it was dark, as dark as any movie I've seen. It was intense, not in a scary way, but in a 'this isn't going to let up' kind of way. It was violent, not gory, but violent. It's not a movie for everyone. Yet, it showed a complicated picture of Batman, and in doing so, there is a resonating element of truth with how we all struggle with our darker, fallen nature. Is Batman perfect? Not by a long shot. He makes mistakes, wrong choices. Lets his emotions rule him, lets them decieve him. And yet, when you think about it, he is human to the core. These kind of issues are the issues that everyone faces. In the end, it is how you respond to them. Batman has no framework outside of himself, and a fragile grip on 'decent morality', to handle these things that come up. I know a better framework. That's one of the fundamental things this movie shows me. One righteous man only makes it so far, one good man only makes it so far before being caught up in the same things he wars against. Often the one who screams the most screams about himself. But somehow, there is something we can hold on to to save, to redeem us. In the movie, it's this imagine Batman has of himself. In me, it's an entirely different image.

All that said, seriously, this is one of the best, darkest, most intense movies you'll see, if you think you can handle it. It is violent. It's not overly profane (that I remember). It's not rampantly indecent. It's just a picture of humanity at its darkest, with only itself to turn to. Highly recommended.

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