Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

If you took time this past weekend to see the last installment of the Dark Knight trilogy, I hope you were surprised, like I was, by the conclusion to these three epic movies.  

Stop reading now if you haven't seen it and you want to without ruining any of the plot.

Looking back on Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, you see the character Bruce Wayne, burdened by the shooting dead of his parents after he prompts an earlier exit from an opera.  Bruce plans revenge and the killing of the murderer, but that plan is interrupted.  Then Bruce disappears on a journey into what it means to be deprived, a criminal.  Taken up into the League of Shadows, Bruce thinks he has found his answer until a certain interpretation of justice is forced upon him and he rejects it in favor of compassion.  Thus begins a righteous fight for right through the symbol of Batman.

This series has a lot of angles to pursue and to reflect upon.  The questions of justice, revenge, corruption, evil, darkness, light, chaos, order, truth, a noble lie, and the debate between needs of the many versus the needs of the few.  Fresh off of seeing this most recent film, I am most interested in the rise of Bruce Wayne, through the symbol of the Dark Knight.  

Bruce Wayne had been eclipsed.  First by guilt, then by anger, then by the symbol he created and finally by the loss of hope in the death of his one love, Rachel.  He implodes upon himself and allows all the blame for the death of Harvey Dent and others to fall on the shoulders of Batman and in turn becomes a recluse.

The arrival of Bane and the League of Shadows' new plan to destroy Gotham allows for an emergence of Batman.  Wayne, unprepared and overeager jumps into the fight against the advice of Alfred, but encouraged by Gordan and a rookie cop.  This ultimately leads to his betrayal, defeat and imprisonment by Bane in a desert pit.

In the desert, Wayne faces despair.  He contemplates what it means to fear different things, in particular death.  Wayne realizes that he hasn't feared death in as long as he can remember.  As a fellow prisoner wisely points out, the lack of a fear of death is the lack for love of life.  When Wayne rises out of the prison by a perilous climb and death defying jump, after failing several times before, he is reentering life.  Wayne is now choosing a both/and approach to life, not just an either/or approach.

When he returns to Gotham, he is not a loner.  He seeks out assistance for the impending battle.  Batman and Wayne are the same person, which is no secret, and Wayne's new hope of life powers Batman's resurgence and victory.  A victory that leaves both as perceived to be dead.

The city honors the memory of its true hero, Batman and four friends honor the memory of Bruce Wayne.  But shortly after, we see that Wayne lives, as Alfred had always hoped to see him.  Wayne embraces a life and a future freed from the burdens of his past and his other persona.

The Dark Knight Rises is a story of the human spirit's triumphant over despair, chaos, and anarchy through selflessness, commitment to life and moral virtue.  It is a long portrait of what a human life, marred by tragedy can offer and an invitation to transformation.  It is a testimony to the vocational struggle that the invasive nature of that world can cause.  

We are all seeking what Wayne found.  Peace.  

I'd love to hear what people thought and debate this great Christopher Nolan trilogy.

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