Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rise! Rise! Rise!

Oh, hey, if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, a few spoilers may be found below. But, really, it’s nothing you probably haven’t heard. It’s not like I discuss the controversial digital comeback of Heath Ledger’s Joker or anything. I would never give that away, nor that Bruce Willis was dead the entire time.

Tonight was the first night out in a while for the wife and me. We went to see The Dark Knight Rises since she hadn’t gotten to see it yet. The first time I saw it was at a midnight premiere that a couple of guys from church were nice enough to invite me along to, but this time I saw it after reading a whole bunch of angry responses to the film online. Many of the complaints are nitpicky, some involve people who are simply looking for opportunities to whine (I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed or not, but there are some people who like to attack anything lots of people enjoy) while some are genuine plot holes, or things that ask us to suspend a bit too much belief in a movie about a vigilante billionaire who dresses up like a bat to fight crime. I will say that I think the ending would have been stronger if, in the film’s final shot (or near-final shot), the camera stayed on Alfred without cutting to anyone else. I thought that the first time I saw the movie, read the same from others here and there in the interim and still held that belief tonight.

At the end of the day, however, I think TDKR was appropriately epic, very enjoyable and extremely satisfying as a movie and as the end of the trilogy. I know it’s become hip for some to hate on stuff like TDKR and Inception (read: Christopher Nolan films) because they have a lot more intelligence and depth than a lot of blockbusters (but not every concept is one hundred percent original, or there’s not as much depth as some would like, or something) but I still think we’d be a lot better off as film connoisseurs if more big movies were willing to even enter into the fray of intelligent discourse in some way, as Nolan attempts to do. You may agree or disagree with how the film handled it, or what conclusions you think were drawn, but I don’t see how anyone could argue that TDKR deals with much more complex issues than the vast majority of big budget films. I think the film is all the stronger for that.

I’m sure it would surprise no one that Christian metaphors could be drawn from a movie called The Dark Knight Rises. After all, is Christ not the greatest and most well known of all the risen, emerging from the pit in hope and triumph? Any film that deals with the concept of sacrifice—as both The Dark Knight and TDKR have—is also going to lend itself easily to spiritual analogy. Again, the Batman is only a pale imitation of the greatest sacrifice of human history, and there could be no last minute escape for the Son of Man. The film also deals with the concept of redemption in regards to more than one character. If you wanted to preach through the box office (and, y’know, I’d probably recommend staying with the Bible), the sermons practically write themselves.

These are very central, frequently-explored concepts in fiction: rising above adversity, sacrifice, redemption. These themes tend to appeal to us on a very fundamental, universal level. Is it possible that these themes appeal to us so much because they play such a crucial role in the story of salvation? We know that Christ’s sacrifice was ordained from before creation (1 Peter 1:18-20) and that we were created to be in communion with God—that’s the whole point behind the ministry of reconciliation: sharing Christ with people is really helping to restore a relationship that should be and is meant to be but is broken through sin. Perhaps the universality of the central themes to the salvation story are universal because of how we were created. Is it possible that God created us to connect with this type of storytelling because these are elements of the story He would be telling us? We are made in His image after all. We are creative beings who operate on emotional, rational and intellectual levels because we share those attributes, in some small way, with our Creator.

Could these themes resonate throughout history because they resonate in His story?

I think it’s possible, or at least worth thinking about. Feel free to discuss below, assuming you’re not reading this from an antiquated pit prison with a broken back. Because, in that case, you probably have other things to do at the moment. 

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