Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dark Brilliance - Part 3 "the Experience"

Picking up where I left of yesterday, I'm contending that redemption is the true overarching story, as opposed to the grand battle between good and evil and it is the movies and stories with this element that are those that grab us because they resonate with our souls. And it is not simply the the theoretical knowledge of the truth of this story, but the embodied existence of this story in a living, breathing person, that is required. Because, beyond the truth as mere theory, lies the lived truth of the redemption of evil. At this point, I'll turn squarely back to the Dark Knight.

My experience watching the film was probably pretty similar to most people. I was blown away by the action, the Joker was expertly portrayed by Heath Ledger, the storyline packed a lot in which left you twisting and turning until the final scene. And that's where I want to go, because that's what ultimately made the experience for me. *WARNING* If I didn't spoil the film for you yet, I certainly will now!

The film, literally, races to the final conclusion where Batman is forced to confront Gotham's White Knight, who unbeknown to the rest of the city, has become the maniacal Two Face. Batman had up until this point, put his faith in Harvey Dent to be the new face, the hero of Gotham and he's faced with what to do after that hero has fallen. And here is his answer to Lt. Gordon:

“You’ll hunt me, you’ll condemn me, you’ll send the dogs on me, because that’s what needs to happen, because sometimes truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more, sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

Instead of allowing the truth about Dent to come out, Batman takes the fall for him. He takes the rap for killing 5 people, including cops and Dent himself. But as he's delivering those lines, I began to shudder. hunt, condemn, send the dogs - another man flashed in my minds eye and he wasn't the caped crusader. that's what needs to happen... I could feel it in my gut now and my eyes welled up. Batman runs away now and left in the alley is Gordon and his son, whom Batman just saved from Dent. Gordon is greatful but torn by Batman's words and his son, James, is confused. He calls after Batman:

James - "Batman! Batman! Why's he running dad?"
Gordon - "Because we have to chase him..."
[I have a lump in my throat]
James - "But he didn't do anything wrong!" [the resemblance is uncanny]
Gordon - "It doesn't matter, son"
James - "Why dad, why?!"
[by now, the tears are running down my cheeks]
Gordon - “He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it, because he’s, because he’s not a hero, he’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark night.”

By the end of this dialog and the montage playing in front of it, I've completely lost it. Hitting me in the gut, square between the eyes is the fact that this is exactly the same thing that Jesus did - and I'm experiencing the truth of it throughout my body. It's not just intellectual acknowledgment, silent assertion, it's an experience. "the one it needs right now...he can take it...he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector." Jesus is more than these things, but he is certainly not less. And there, right in front of me, blasting through my senses is this portrayal - in my own cultural language - of the redemption of humanity through the sacrifice of an undeserving man. Wow.

And Gordon was right, at the end. Humanity doesn't need a hero anymore than Gotham did. At least, not a conceptual hero - not a Harvey Dent, White Knight. It doesn't need someone merely to inspire hope, to simply inspire people to live better lives. No, Gotham, like all of us, needs someone who will get the job done - whether that means defeating villains or accepting the wrongs of others so as to free them...

Part 1 - "Postmodern Story"
Part 2 - "the Truth"

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