Jump to content

Batman Begins (2005)


Recommended Posts

Despite the fact that I badly want to discuss the possibility that this film sets up Ra's Al Ghul as a sort of Old-Testament-God figure and Batman as his Satanic challenger -- or, even more perversely (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with artistic perversity!), as a mix of Christ and Satan -- I'll respect the moratorium ...

spoilers1.gif

Interesting. I wondered if it wasn't the dilemma of the Christian conscience and how it must wrestle with the demand for justice and the possibility of mercy, in the face of an advancing, threatening (Muslim-extremist?) threat calling for justice and vengeance against a decadent society.

In other words, The League of Shadows struck me as a slightly-veiled version of Muslim terrorists. After all, they are lashing out at decadence. And they are objecting, in some cases, to real wrongdoing. Batman's crisis is to acknowledge the wrongdoing of Gotham while at the same time protecting it from those who would merely burn it to the ground.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 334
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

spoilers1.gif

In other words, The League of Shadows struck me as a slightly-veiled version of Muslim terrorists. After all, they are lashing out at decadence.

spoilers1.gif

Hopefully this Bat-fan can add something, though I have yet to see the film.

The interesting thing is that in comic books Ra's Al Ghul is pretty clearly Arabic in origin, which is why I was a little surprised that they went with a Japanese actor to play the part. In fact, according to the DC website, Ra's Al Ghul translates as "The Demon's Head" from Arabic. He's always been trying to engineer planetary genocide and been a terrorist figure. And his "Lazarus Pits" are usually portrayed as being in desert locales. Interesting that it looks like they actually downplayed this element in the film.

Kind of reminds me of how they changed the Muslim terrorists in Tom Clancy's Sum of All Fears into some kind of Neo-Nazi's in the film version.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's probably because of the Muslim effeciency in killing filmmakers who portray them negatively - don't ya think?

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: I wrote:

: : Despite the fact that I badly want to discuss the possibility that this film sets up Ra's

: : Al Ghul as a sort of Old-Testament-God figure and Batman as his Satanic challenger

: : -- or, even more perversely (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with artistic

: : perversity!), as a mix of Christ and Satan -- I'll respect the moratorium . . .

For another interesting hint at this mix of things, Christian Bale, in this interview (which I think is open to non-subscribers) talks about the "Christ-like journey" Bruce Wayne goes on, and then talks about how he enjoys playing "the demonic Batman".

SPOILERS

: Interesting. I wondered if it wasn't the dilemma of the Christian conscience and how

: it must wrestle with the demand for justice and the possibility of mercy, in the face

: of an advancing, threatening (Muslim-extremist?) threat calling for justice and

: vengeance against a decadent society.

Sigh. Once again, the "war on terror" intrudes on how we read films. Though I guess I appreciate THIS intrusion of the real world on our fantasies a lot more than certain other recent examples (like George Lucas's half-baked allusions to George W. Bush in Episode III).

Interesting that you would think of Muslims, since Islam is, in a way, an attempt to push Christianity back in a more Old Testament sort of direction. (Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet, but follow a number of Jewish laws such as abstaining from pork and practising circumcision, etc.)

: Batman's crisis is to acknowledge the wrongdoing of Gotham while at the same time

: protecting it from those who would merely burn it to the ground.

True. But when he asks for more time, I saw Abraham pleading with God to spare Sodom, not a Christian asking a Muslim to learn the ways of tolerance.

But I guess that's the joy of film -- we all bring our own subtexts to the story!

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SDG, PTC, and others!!

Please email me the text of your Batman Begins reviews so I can excerpt them in Film Forum. I need to have them by tomorrow at noon... otherwise they'll be put off until second-week coverage.

Send to lookingcloserreview@msn.com or my SPU email address. Either way will work.

DON'T send them to me via PM, please.

Thanks.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

My review should be up at Decent Films tomorrow morning.

I sent it to the Register this am... but I want to revise it a bit for my own site.

(I came up with a great headline for the piece... "Dark Knight of the Soul"... but they changed it to something completely banal. Sigh.)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've avoided writing anything on the film until after I see it a second time tonight (this time with the missus). Hopefully I can get my piece done in time for your round-up, Jeff,

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So what I want to know is: How does this moving keep from being too crowded?

One of the big problems with the earlier attempts at telling Batman's story on film was it was so crowded with villains and sidekicks, there was no room for Batman himself.

By my count, this new retelling has two major villains, two (or 3?) minor ones, Qui-gon, love interest, Q, Alfred, Gordon, and more attention on Wayne's parents. Whew!

I'm really looking forward to seeing this one, don't get me wrong. But I'll be especially watching to see how this aspect of the story is handled...

B

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill Moore wrote:

: So what I want to know is: How does this moving keep from being too crowded?

Villain-wise -- and I don't think this is particularly spoiler-ish -- I'd say it keeps the movie from being too crowded by getting each villain out of the way before moving on to the next one. Note, the villainous characters do interact and know each other, but the VILLAINY of any one character only comes to the fore after or when the previous villain has been dealt with or marginalized somehow. So instead of getting villains in parallel, we get them in series.

It's actually a fairly clever way to structure the story, because -- for once -- it makes Batman HIMSELF and HIS journey the throughline of the movie, and it also shows how, in the words of Qui-Gon Jinn, "There's always a bigger fish."

: By my count, this new retelling has two major villains, two (or 3?) minor ones, Qui-gon . . .

Just wondering who you're counting here. Ra's Al Ghul, his lieutenant Henri Ducard, the Scarecrow, and Falconi all come to mind. I guess that's two major ones and two minor ones. I don't know who the third minor one would be, unless you mean Joe Chill, the guy who shoots Batman's parents.

BTW, SDG and Jeff, did you notice that this is the first film since Priest (1994) to co-star Linus Roache (the gay priest / Thomas Wayne) and Tom Wilkinson (the liberal priest / Falconi)? Not that they share any screen time in this one. (Well, there was also a TV-movie three years ago called The Gathering Storm...)

And did you notice that Jim Gordon's partner is played by the fat bearded guy who ran the motel in Memento?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Never saw Priest, so I didn't make the connection.

The more I think about Memento, the more I see a relationship between the films... or at least similarities. They're both about someone trying to right a wrong, they're both full of flashbacks, they're both about the danger of revenge quests...

A compare/contrast with the psychological and spiritual issues at the heart of Insomnia would be interesting as well.

One prominent mainstream critic slammed this film as having no directorial stamp, nothing that makes it distinctly Nolan's. I couldn't disagree more. Everything that made Nolan's previous work distinct... it's here in spades.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter - Joe Chill was the "?" in my "minor villain count". You read my mind pretty well on that. smile.gif

Not having seen it yet, and only going by a couple of reviews, I was not sure how much screen time any of the "minors" actually got. Thanks for the reply.

One part of the story I'm looking forward to is the Scarecrow part. I think I have vague remembrances of only one or two comics with him in it, that I happened to read. But he always struck me as a pretty strange character.

B

Link to post
Share on other sites

At last, after a week of politely positive reviews, the serious ovations start to roll in. A few four-star raves:

Roger Ebert (WARNING! Second half of review contains a number of spoilers!!!)

Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer

Kyle Smith, NY Post

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites

A preview of how my Batman Begins review BEGINS...

[REMOVED, due to the posting of the actual review.]

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes, Jeff, that's just the INTRO to your review?

FWIW, I haven't written a review proper yet, but I blogged the film -- since all the major mainstream reviews are coming out today, in anticipation of tonight's midnight screenings, I figure there's no embargo to break any more -- but I made a connection to Episode III in my own write-up, too. (Both films have key scenes involving a tug-of-war between the efficiency of beheadings and the righteousness of standing trial.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw it last night at midnight. Loved it. Christian Bale IS Batman.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments at my blog, SDG; I've replied to 'em there and added a few new comments about the relationship between superheroes and "the people" (a la John Shelton Lawrence & Robert Jewett's The Myth of the American Superhero). I am particularly intrigued by the question of whether it is better for Bruce Wayne to retain full ownership of Wayne Enterprises -- a megacorporation that he can play with however he likes -- or for the company to "go public" and therefore be held accountable by stockholders. Stockholders and corporations don't get much love from the left-leaning types, yet would the left-leaning types really prefer the future of Gotham City to be left completely in the hands of a billionaire with, to say the least, eccentric habits? Especially in a town where nearly everybody is "on the take"? (Even if Bruce isn't bribing anybody NOW, the temptation to do so is always there...)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alan,

it is the ability to make such connections that I look for in diagnosing schizophrenia. All you need to start doing is being concerned that they are reading this

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, wow, and more wow. I am amazed by what I saw. A superhero film with depth, and a Batman movie that treats Batman as sane! In this film, Batman is sane but obsessed with justice. That is a far cry from the previous bat-films. And this movie even bothers to ask what justice is, and to wrestle with the difficulties of bringing it to pass.

I loved Bale, Freeman, Oldman (!!!!) and Murphy. I liked Holmes. I LOVED Gotham city. For the first time, Gotham looks like a real city. It has real streets, and real people, and real problems. Kind of like Spider-Man's New York City, but grittier. It has a sense of place, without feeling like a production designer's playground.

What a great film.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw the movie. Liked both reviews by Steven and Jeffrey especially the point that Steven made about Batman not being born into

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

myspace-animation-codes121.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okey doke. Eschewing the theological implications for a second...

Just watched the movie. Wow! Believe the hype, because it is all true! This is the FIRST Batman movie ever made. With all due respect to Burton, the others simply don't exist aymore. I agree that at the end you'll find that Chris Nolan (the director) makes it clear that he feels the same way - throws down he gauntlet, as it were.

The great thing is that Batman Begins is just full of characters, both villians and good guys, but the movie never feels crowded. Very focused, very sharp.

I think I remember a (minor) complaint somewhere up above about the fight scenes not being shot so that the audience could see the moves, but I think that is the point. I remember one of Ducard's lines about how fighting is not a dance. The League of Shadows' fighting style is quick and severe and meant to incapacitate the opponent quickly. Also, I think that Nolan's attempted effect was to represent Batman seeming supernatural - but not to us the audience - to his foes. He's so quick, so powerful, so stealthy, so fear-inspiring that he's just this black mass/force/persona knocking down all in his path. The fight scenes represented that to me, and I think it fits.

You may now continue with the teleos, the actualizing of the internal, and such.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...