Have you ever been in the situation where, through no fault of your own, you suddenly find yourself completely and totally out of the loop? One second you were in the thick of things, 100% modern and totally, like, ‘hip’, like; then you blink and suddenly you’re as current as the ‘Macarena’. My mind journeys back to the late 90’s, when I was in 8th or 9th grade and very un-cool. Just when I thought I was making some form of progress in the quest to improve my ‘cool’ factor, I was dealt a death blow; I didn’t know the names of the ‘Spice Girls’. The fact that I didn’t want to, or that I didn’t even like them was irrelevant. They had a hit single (“Wannabe”), they were hot and there were five of them. What followed was a desperate search through magazines to find their names, as well as the equally desperate attempt to catch their music video on TV so that I could clarify which Spice Girl pinched who. (“Ah yes, that’s ‘Baby’! And she’s pinching – hang on, is that ‘Mel B’ or ’Mel C’? Wait a minute, then who’s ‘Sporty’? AARGH!”) Needless to say, it was terribly traumatic, and took years to repair.
Years have gone by, and now after almost a decade, I suddenly find myself in a similar situation. No, this has nothing to do with knowing the names of the Pussycat Dolls (lets be honest, no one really CARES about their NAMES), nor does it have anything to do with Brangelina’s newborn’s names. This time it’s something that is completely out of my control.
I’m talking about the movie of the decade, the entertainment story of the year, the blockbuster that has blown its competition out of the water, the movie that has taken the place of ‘The Godfather’ on top of imdb.com’s coveted ‘Top 250’ of all time.
Yes, I’m talking about ‘The Dark Knight’.
And the fact that I haven’t seen it.
Like I said earlier, this is completely beyond my control. In keeping with our nation’s image of being a little bit backward in all things under the sun, the movie is yet to release in Sri Lanka! To be fair, it is yet to release in many parts of the world, with Germany being the last country to officially get her hands on it later this month. However, since most of my friends are either in the States, the Gulf or India, I am a conspicuous absentee from all the online chatter about the movie. To make things worse, everyone knows I’m a die hard fan of the Caped Crusader, ever since I saw the first Batman movie back in the early 90’s. Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson brought a comic book legend to the big screen, and what a performance! For a movie made in 1989, I still think it is a stellar piece of work. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker has stood the test of time – till now, apparently. Ever since that first movie though, I’ve been a big fan. I saw all the movies, read the comics, and was such a hardcore fan that even the release of the fourth (and the most pathetic) instalment of the franchise - ‘Batman and Robin’ – (which had Batman and Robin ‘sky surfing’ and using ‘bat credit cards’) could not shake my love for all things Bat-related.
To me, there is something special about the whole persona of Batman. Allow me to educate you; please bear with me. Unlike most ‘super-heroes’ portrayed in comic books, Batman has no super-powers, no alien-inherited ability to fly or destroy things with a magical ‘zap’; instead he is one of the few completely human super-heroes, one who relies solely on his skills of deduction, his determination and dedication, as well as physical prowess in all forms of fighting styles. But this would all sound somewhat larger-than-life if not for the dark nature of his origins. Unlike other comic book heroes, his motivation and drive to do what he does is not borne out of some sense of moral obligation, but rather a form of penance. Bruce Wayne was only a child when he witnessed the murder of his parents, and the scars from that traumatic experience is what gave birth to the Batman; a hero that works in the shadows, seeks no praise, and lives with the knowledge that no matter how many crimes he stops, he will never be able to prevent the murder of his parents. How cool is that?!
That is what I love about the character; the feeling that this is no fairy tale story, and there is no happy ending. The Batman universe is dark, evil and without comfort. Gotham City, the domain of the Batman, is always depicted as a corrupt, dirty and infested place. It is uncompromising, and it is much like the real world in my opinion. It is a place where the only saving grace is in the shape of a hero who is in most cases considered as bad as the villains he hunts down. Again, this is somewhat like the real world, where one often finds that in order to survive you have to become as twisted and ‘evil’ as the people we complain about.
I could go on and on, but I fear that if I do I’ll probably be branded a bit of a ‘freak’.
Bottom line – there are no words to describe how frustrated I am about now being able to see it. There are loads of camera copy prints available on the internet, and the only reason I haven’t succumbed to the temptation of downloading them is the fact that a work of art like ‘The Dark Knight’ should be experienced on the big screen. Or so everyone keeps telling me, much to my annoyance. I swear if I get one more mail or message reading “Why so serious?” I’m just going to flip out! However, I’m just glad that comic book heroes are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The artists and writers behind these comics put in a lot of time and effort to create a world that lives in the hearts and minds of millions around the world. Now, thanks to the world wide success of movies such as ‘The Dark Knight’, instead of being a branded as ‘kids stuff’ these writers can now truly call their work ‘art’.