Saturday evening, some friends and I saw The Dark Knight. I had been excited to see what Ledger would do with the ultimate villain. I’ve been a comic book fan since I was 12, and the Joker is just one of those truly infectious criminals. Of course, there was the syndicated Cesar Romero interpretation, as well as Jack Nicholson and even the cartoon on FOX, but what would Ledger do? Would it be like the graphic novels? Less the smile and more the madness? – a man so twisted there is no reason behind the sociopath, he just is a sociopath.
With absolute certainty, I saw the Joker last night. The scars of his grin caused him to lick his lips as if incessantly tasting exhilaration. The vision is revolting, the experience: captivating. My brother and I talked into the morning about several things including an actor becoming a villian. It was Adam who brought up the idea of guilt at experiencing something so incredible that costs a man so much. I’m not out to imply becoming the Joker killed Heath Ledger. I do think it’d be naive to imply it didn’t hurt him. I am a believer the best actors become their character. If I am watching Ledger become evil, am I enjoying his pain?
But then, that opens a whole other discussion about what motivates a great actor. What highs does s/he attain when an actor of moral fiber becomes a sociopath of anarchistic aspirations? My feeling is there is a similar “thrill” underlining the actor and the motivation of the character. It all boils down to the thrill, the experience. It’s my motivation in the audience, enjoying this second hand thrill, from the safety of stadium seats.
I won’t put The Dark Night among my favorite films, yet. I have to watch it again. I think Ledger was the jewel. Very early in the movie, I didn’t feel the craft of the film met the performance of the man. There were a few odd cuts where someone’s head would be looking down, then suddenly up and it just felt like something obvious had been overlooked. Stuff like that wakes me up from the dream. Though, those interruptions were fairly few and only in the first half hour. I can let them go.
Outside those moments, the film was mesmerizing. One of my top criteria is an unbroken experience. My experience was broken over the last hour, but it wasn’t the film’s fault. I kept having to reposition myself in the low-backed chair. Therefore, I’ll need to watch this one again in the comfort of my home before really evaluating where it sits in my list of films. Regardless, if you get a chance, see it. Right now, I’d give it a 4 of 5. Thunderous, dark, exhilarating.