Friday, July 18, 2008
The Dark Knight Soars to New Heights of Masterful Storytelling
This is amazing character-driven action writing and one of the greatest adaptations I've ever seen of material stemming from the illustrated page. In my podcast today I mentioned that The Dark Knight certainly deserves writing nominations. It also deserves a best picture nomination as well since it really is the best film I've seen this year.
Here characters are often tempered through action and they in fact grow through the action. Action also reinforces the thematic of "How far will you go to deliver justice?"
Everything really fits into place and works in this film which smartly comments about the times we live in without hitting you over the head with it. Even the dialogue says a lot even as the characters are generally saying so little. It's really tight writing and great structuring.
I had a screenwriting friend who wanted me to break down the plot of the film after I saw it three weeks ago, spoilers included, so that he could figure out what everyone was raving so much about.
I refused to do so because as I explained, there isn't anything truly new in this film so much as it simply adds the classic tenets of drama to the mythology of the Batman universe.
There's a familiarity of the world you're in while at the same time the presentation of the narrative and character arcs have been so meticulously well thought out that everything does in fact seem new and polished. It truly has to be seen to be believed.
Of course, I think this response only annoyed my pal since he was convinced that if someone would just tell him the secrets of the film - he might get a leg up on his own project, which is again absurd because the only secret of The Dark Knight is to take the high road when it comes to narrative and character writing - which isn't easy to do.
After he sees the film, I'm going to ask him what he possibly could have told me were the roles reversed. What "secret" or spoiler from this film could help you in your own writing vs. did experiencing watching other writers setting the bar so high for the genre inspire you to do so yourself? Nothing I could have emailed him could have enlightened him to the film's masterful writing beyond me emailing him a PDF of the script itself.
The Dark Knight's character writing is so strong that I couldn't wait to return to the characters when immersed in an extended action sequence, like the prisoner transfer. Sure the characters are all there - but - the real anticipation of bringing them close together to see how they interact is what kept me on edge. The film's final confrontation between The Joker and Batman was sublime.
As discussed in my podcast with co-writer Jonathan Nolan, he and his brother, co-writer/director Chris Nolan and (story by writer) David S. Goyer all envisioned The Joker as a force of nature, which is a cool conception but not so easy to translate to the screen - yet, they totally pulled it off. Ledger's acting was incredible and definitely nomination worthy - but - I certainly hope people don't forget about the excellent performance by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent.
The writing of the Harvey Dent character was Shakespearean in scope and is the character with the grandest arc in the whole film. Dent goes through the most change phsycially and of course mentally as Gotham's White Knight falls when we see his conceits of justice meld into a lust for revenge by the film's end. It's great writing and Eckhart simply "got it" which is evident in every frame of his strong performance.
I was really glad Jonathan Nolan was able to sit down for our podcast (you can find it in Itunes) and hope that during the awards season this excellent film is properly rewarded with the nominations it deserves.
I've already seen The Dark Knight twice in Imax and have been absolutely blown away by it and can't wait to see it for the third time on Saturday night... - JG