Directed by:
Christopher Nolan
Writing credits:
(WGA)
Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and
Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
Christopher Nolan (story) &
David S. Goyer (story)
* trailer

It is a known fact that the media has always had an obsession with celebrities, fueled by the high demand from the public. Many news articles around the time of the death of Anna Nicole Smith reported that her death was the first celebrity death, in this new epoch where our obsession with celebrities is at an all-time height. Web site Thinkprogress.org reports that: “The death of Anna Nicole Smith was a feeding frenzy for the national media, and coverage of the war was drowned out: NBC’s Nightly News devoted 14 seconds to Iraq compared to 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Anna Nicole.” Heath Ledger died in this new age of celebrity infatuation, and so The Dark Knight was inevitably going to be a success.

However, to use Heath’s death as the sole reason for the success of this movie unjustly deducts what was an extremely credible performance. Heath evidently put his heart and soul into this performance in a very natural and almost effortless way. It has always been my opinion that the best actors and actresses are those that can reveal real emotions in a role, and those that can give themselves wholly, not partially, in an uninhibited way. This can be a scary thing because it means not holding back, but giving your all, and Heath does this perfectly well. The success of the joker lies in the fact that we have a culmination of different emotions that all work together very well. Heath manages to be twisted, dark and sinister, yet simultaneously witty all at once.

There is a striking, yet almost unnerving ability that Heath has when he is sinister in this role. It’s not just his facial expressions, but it’s every minor detail: his voice, his movements and his mannerisms. They all manifest themselves in such a way that the product is sheer perfection. The acting ability is so powerful and spot-on that I couldn’t quite see anyone else giving the justice that Heath did to the joker. Ledger not only connects with the characters in the film, but he connects with each and every member of the audience. The joker must have left Heath emotionally drained as he even said himself that while it was a fun role, it was physically and emotionally demanding. The result is that it paid off. There is definitely a preponderance of darkness that shrouds the film, and I can’t help but attribute this to Heath. After watching back excerpts from the movie and even looking at the stills of Ledger from the movie, there is an overwhelming darkness that dominates the picture, and this is something that I haven’t really experienced before in such a natural way. The eerie element is completely genuine and completely real, and in this age where there are so many untalented people in the industry, I find sincerity of any sort hard to come by.

Having acknowledged that Heath delivered an amazing performance, many articles that I have come across on the web do insinuate that the film industry is using the fact that Heath’s performance was “Oscar-Worthy” as a stratagem to mask their exploitation of his death. The reality is that we do live in a cold world that will use and utilize any person or thing for personal gain. It does appear that The Dark Knight is living proof of this.

While Heath was truly amazing in this film, are we fuelling the utilization of a dead movie star? Some people refuse to see this film and are boycotting it, simply because they can see a cunning marketing strategy behind The Dark Knight which is cleverly using Heath Ledger as a selling tool for this movie. I read a fantastic article by Jon Hopwood, published July 21, 2008 entitled: Heath Ledger Died for Your Sins: “The Dark Knight” as Autopsy Porn; Film Exploits Anxieties Over End of American Empire. In this amazing epic article he states that: “As anyone who knows about subliminal advertising knows, Death Sells. And as anyone who knows anything about the movie industry knows: Nothing comes between a movie producer and the money: Nothing.” This is an argument that bares a strong residue of truth, as whilst we are savoring our last performance from Heath, we are also being sucked into a gambit by the film industry profiting on the death of a young film star. I just find it extremely naïve of people to say this is one of the best movies that they have seen simply because it has been hyped up to such a point that people are following the herd of sheep, and jumping on the bandwagon that this film is one of the best blockbusters ever made. I guess that we need to see the bigger picture here. Whilst we do have an amazing performance from an amazing actor, this role will now completely eradicate from most of our minds the other fantastic roles that Ledger played throughout his career, because we have been sucked into the ever so powerful marketing ploy, which has put such a preponderance of emphasis onto this role, that it has made us forget Heath’s other roles, purely for the film industry’s financial gain. It is therefore ironic that people think that all this hype is giving something special to Heath’s career, when in fact it’s advising us that this was his only great role. Of course the film industry don’t want to focus on the other great pictures that he played in, simply because that could tarnish or deduct the profit that they are making from The Dark Knight.

All of the reviews that I have seen of this movie seem to collectively and unanimously agree that it is fantastic. Almost every site that I have researched seems to sing the praises of this film. I actually found it extremely difficult to try and locate a bad review of this movie. Having said that, on my travels for trying to find a bad review of the film, Internet gossip Perez Hilton (His blog is Perezhilton.com (formerly PageSixSixSix.com), which he writes under the pseudonym Perez Hilton), summed up my underlining view of this film, which is that while I really liked the movie, I didn’t love it. Perez strangely touched upon a lot of criticisms that I also found with the film, namely that the film lacked that wow factor. The thing is I wasn’t even expecting it to be one of the best films that I have seen, my expectations were for that amazing, wow factor, and it just didn’t have that for me.

I also found the performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal extremely mediocre. For some reason she just came across as being overtly bland. In many ways I suppose she was overshadowed by the other great actors in the film, which sadly does seem to be a reflection on her. The reason that I say this is because you don’t need to be a primary character in a movie to shine: Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman did not have huge characters, but I believe that they played their roles extremely well. Maggie just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t feel genuine raw emotion from her at all, more transcript, reading off the page acting, which makes me wonder why she was cast in the first place.

The obvious question is would this film be as big as it was if Heath Ledger was still alive? Are people able to provide their own subjective opinion on what they really thought of the movie, or will they be forever influenced and sucked into the media portrayal that this is one of the best films ever made, simply because it bares the last performance that we have from Heath Ledger? Is this movie really amazing because of Heath, or is it a product of fantastic film industry marketing?

Darren Shoneye