The Dark Knight & The Power of Truth
I am still looking out over the hills and trees of the rolling area surrounding the Mississippi River, thinking about the latest Batman movie. The Dark Knight is a powerful and classic Power of Truth film.
In a Power of Truth film things are never what they seem. None of the major characters in The Dark Knight are what they seem at first glance. The tangled undergrowth of human duplicity catches and pulls at every character in the film.
In the beginning of the film, Batman tries to find out the truth about one thing: a spectacular bank robbery. Over the course of the film, he finds out the truth about a larger thing: what happens to human nature under the extreme duress of chaos. In the end, he finds out the truth about himself: he is both stronger and weaker than he imagined.
In the movie, criminal acts are just the surface. This surface, upon closer inspection, is tangled up with its own deeper undergrowth of human darkness. Once the surface of the crime is cracked, chasms open that no one could have imagined.
Batman is continually looking for answers that elude him. He is caught in the eternal Power of Truth paradox: Seeking certainty in an uncertain world only brings more uncertainty. Who is he? Does Gotham need him? Will he break his “one rule” to save the woman he loves? How “bad” is he willing to be to do “good”? How easy would it be for him to permanently cross over into the Dark Side?
Christian Bale, the actor who plays Batman says: “Now you have not just a young man in pain attempting to find some kind of an answer, you have somebody who actually has power, who is burdened by that power, and is having to recognize the difference between attaining that power and holding on to it.” What is the real truth about Batman?
Not only is Bruce Wayne not what he seems. Batman is not what he seems. At the end of the film, he takes on the burden of Two Face’s crimes to give Gotham a “hero,” turning himself into someone he’s not in the eyes of the public. Batman tries to “save” Gotham from the truth.
Lt. James Gordon speaks of Batman’s new role saying: “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now… and so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector… a dark knight.”
Batman says: “Sometimes, truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.” Alfred, by destroying Rachel’s final farewell letter echoes Batman sentiments and saves Batman, himself, from the awful truth that Batman had lost Rachel long before she died.
Everyone in the film is bound up in the tangled undergrowth of human duplicity.
There’s more about Power of Truth characters and stories in my forthcoming eBooks on The Nine Character Types.