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The Batman Trilogy

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Film Essay

November 10


Bhavika Lutchman

The Batman Trilogy, directed by Christopher Nolan, has three distinct themes namely fear in Batman Begins, chaos in The Dark Knight and pain in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan uses specific characters such as the Joker and Scarecrow along with strategic filmic techniques in order to highlight the evolution of fear into chaos as well as making the themes prominent across the two films that we have studied.

In Batman Begins (2005), the main theme in the movie is fear. Nolan chooses villains such as Scarecrow and Falcone in order to fit the theme of the movie. Scarecrow, played by Cillian Murphy, is a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. He gasses people with a toxin which causes them to hallucinate by visualising their biggest fears while using a scarecrow mask. Falcone, played by Tom Wilkinson, uses fear in order to gain his power. The filmic technique that is used in order to show the fear in these acts is the lighting that Nolan uses throughout the scenes where Scarecrow and Falcone are in focus. In the scene where Falcone is speaking to Bruce Wayne in the restaurant, the lighting is used to create many shadows in order to create an ominous atmosphere. These shadows also create the impression that Falcone’s character is linked to criminal activities. Whereas in the scenes where Scarecrow is present the shadows are used to show the fear that the toxins are causing in the person. Nolan also switches between the reality of the situation and the person’s hallucination in order to help the audience see what effect the gas has on a person. The settings of these scenes are in many strange places such as abandoned buildings or in restaurants that are in the part of Gotham city that is high in crime. These settings create a suspicious mood for the audience which leads to feelings of fear. This is an important representation of fear because it is based on fears that the audience can relate to.

Another way that fear can be analysed as a theme in Batman Begins is the process whereby Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, overcomes his fear of bats and uses it as a symbol for his alter-ego Batman. One of the main focal points in the movie is Batman overcoming his fear. This was a step that needed to be taken in order to defeat Scarecrow. The scenes when Batman first comes into contact with bats are dark with a great deal of low-key lighting which is associated with darkness and fear. As the movie progress he overcomes his fear. The scene towards the end of the movie where Batman has just tried to defeat Scarecrow, we see how his fear is reduced but there is more lighting and he is able to stand up straight while being surrounded by the bats. Furthermore, Batman uses fear in order to intimidate his enemies and throughout the movie there are many low angle shots of Batman giving the audience the feeling that he is in power which sets the sense that the enemy should be afraid of him. This can been seen when Batman jumps on the staircase in order to save Rachel Dawes and the camera is directly below him, this gives the impression that Batman is fully in control and he is portrayed as the hero.

Batman overcoming his fear, whilst positive in some senses turns into a force the Mob wants to destroy therefore his fear or lack of it leads to chaos in the second film, The Dark Knight. This is due to the fact that the crime lords state that the only reason for allowing the Joker to follow through with his plans was because they want to get rid of Batman. The only reason that Batman seems to be a problem is due to the fact that they are afraid that he will ruin their plans while cleaning up the streets of Gotham City.  



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