The Dark Knight and The Thrill of Lofty Expectations

I am going to take a break, perhaps an extended break, from using this blog as an outlet for my usual tawdry earnest “literature,” or whatever you want to call it I’m going to try to get back to what I usually write, or what people usually are accustomed to be reading from me, which is an opinion piece. Because something has been on my mind, for a long time.

And that has been The Dark Knight.  I am excited, I have been very excited, for about a year, or since the day I heard about Heath Ledger being cast as The Joker. As the release date approached however, I found myself feeling an anxiety about the movie. Perhaps this is due to the amount of talk about the movie as of late, the tragic death of Ledger, the fact that this is a sequel, or more likely an accumulation of all of these things and other unmentionable factors.

I love movies. And not for the typical reasons of being taken on an adventure, or being told a story, or to escape from reality. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are great, but the part that has always affected me the most is going to the movie, sitting in a dark auditorium with a group of strangers, and being shown something together. The movie itself can be crap, but the experience – hearing strangers hoarse laughs, listening to children talk or most of all the looks on peoples face as the lights come back up and we go back to normal. Seeing a movie on the big screen brings a new set of possibilities into the experience, and also closes critical ones as well.  When I watched Babel with a group of friends at home, we cracked jokes the whole time about Brad Pitts overacting and the uneasy weirdness of the deaf Japanese girl. This would not have happened in the theaters.

But back to my point, which is the Dark Knight and my anticipation. I have been counting down mentally to the release date, the 19th of July became a foundation for my summer planning, and the fact that I could see it five days after my birthday was nice as well. But here’s the weird thing.

I avoided the movie like wildfire all weekend. I changed the subject of every conversation at work leading up to the release, and ran with my hands covering my ears from two girls talking about their favorite scenes. Not that I didn’t want to have the movie ruined, I wanted to avoid hearing about the movie at all. Because hearing about it at this point only reminds me that I haven’t seen it. Reminding me that I have been cowardly avoiding the potential of disapointment. My lovely girlfriend and I have been talking about the movie for months. The Ledger factor, the sheer awesomeness of the trailers (I love how acceptable awesome has become in mainstream culture,) the brillance of Christopher Nolan how he can maintain an artistic edge and still sell hundreds of millions of dollars in an opening weekend. There is nothing bad that has happened to knock this movie off of it’s perch of potentially the greatest blockbuster of all time. And that is what scares the bejesus out of me.

I used to work for a theater as a projectionist. Every week a couple of new movies would come in, and the other projectionists and myself would have the fine opportunity of watching the movie before the audience could, the preview the print and make sure that Donald or Erich didn’t fuck anything up. The staff would talk and talk about upcoming releases, reminded ominously by the rotation of posters and billboards and promotional statues. We were a five screen in an upper class town, so whatever was popular was showing. And time after time, I would build my expectation up for a movie, only to be quickly disappointed by the product. When I reflect on a movie, I sometimes reflect on how excited I was, then demur myself after I remember painful scenes or awkward dialogue, or just pitiful stunt casting (Nick Nolte in Hulk anyone?) So recently, whenever my girlfriend and I would talk about The Dark Knight, I would ask her to not say things that are overreaching like, “It’s going to be the greatest movie ever,” or “Heath Ledgers role is going to be the best,” or “It’s going to be so good that Christian Bale will climb out of the screen and blow a massive load on the audiences chest, and we will like it and ask for more!” I just can’t stand being disapointed, so I’ve lowered my expectations from          




I always want to love a movie. Especially with this one.

Heath Ledgers death has cast an unfortunate specter over the film itself. People have been talking about the sad circumstances surrounding his death rather than the incredible talent and charm he possessed. Consider the fact that the guy said he straight up he had no idea how to act after doing A Knights Tale, and that he wanted to be taken seriously and get serious roles. Look how quickly he turned himself around from one week teen hunk, to serious actor, getting seriously good roles. The sky could’ve been the limit with that guy.

So I am going to go see The Dark Knight tonight, at the 9:35 showing on the Westside. The guy I am going to see it with tonight, I have only seen one movie with before, and that was Spider Man 3 at a midnight showing (I have a theory that midnight showings tend to dilute your true feelings of a movie.) Paul and I may not have the best track record for movie going as it stands, but it can only get better after that massive abortion of a comic flick.

Maybe my expectations of what a movie can be has changed as I have aged, or maybe the potential for the market to unleash a movie that works on all counts has been lost. Maybe the hoopla surrounding this movie is too much for the movie to overcome. Either way, I am ready to see it.

I’ll write something tomorrow about how I felt about it. I already feel alot more excited by writing this.


One thought on “The Dark Knight and The Thrill of Lofty Expectations

  1. patrick

    kudos to the makers Dark Knight for their record breaking opening weekend… it’s no wonder there’s talk of another one coming out ASAP


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