Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Dark Knight Review – Part 2

Iain Duncan Smith stated in an article yesterday that the Dark Knight should be reclassified to a 15. I have a lot of respect for the man and believe he was poorly treated by the party, I especially like his reports on social justice and willingness to be forthright with his views But I think he is wrong in this belief.

This is my response to people who say the film should be a 15 and not a 12A, as little kids can see it or it is too disturbing for 13 year olds.

In 2002 the rating 12A replaced the 12 rating the primary difference was under the 12A rating parents could bring younger children into the film with them. This rating change was caused by the complaints that the 12 rated film Wild Wild West starring Will Smith had been marketed to children through the usage of kids meals at Burger King and other merchandising, but these same children were too young to legally watch the film. Because of this the 12A rating was bought in so parents could take their younger children in to watch these films AT THEIR DISCRETION.

If a parent does not want their 11 year old son to watch the film they do not have to take him. Show some parenting skills and refuse to take your child.

I have seen the film and I truly believe it is appropriate for young teens. In the series finale of Doctor Who, the Daleks invaded Earth, they massacred Unit, they reduced people to dust, they murdered in cold blood. On or off screen all these things happened we knew about them. In the 2005 finale they invaded a future version of Earth inhabited by more than 400 billion people and proceeded to annihilate the population, again they killed. Both of the above examples were considered family viewing, the reason is that it was fantasy violence and not realistic. In the Dark Knight the violence is fantasy as well, there is very little blood seen, there is aggression, but the main character never kills. We bombs explode, but we do not see the bodies. We do not see deaths, but the aftermaths of them. I do not think any can complain about the violence in the movie without looking at any current children’s show or any mainstream TV.

Another compliant is that this is not Batman as we know it, but I think this portrayal of the characters is closer to the comics books than the previous film series or any TV program and kids were not tricked into seeing it. The Joker is a psychopath not a comic villain, Batman is dark and tortured by both his inability to help and the loss of his parents. Read the following books and say which is closer to the real Batman, the film or the Adam West TV series:

The Dark Knight Returns

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Batman: The Killing Joke

Teenagers should be able to deal with this portrayal and realise it is just make believe and not real, younger children do not have the same level of awareness to be able to distinguish between real and fake.

The other main compliant is the disturbing portrayal of the Joker. Some people go to the cinema to be entertained, but true art is achieved when what you have seen stays with you and forces you to think about it to make you think about yourself and the Joker achieves that – Would you push the button? This is a question I imagines a lot of people asked when leaving the theatre. The film shows us what we could all become and that I think is the most uncomfortable thing for people. We are used to moral absolutes in the media:

X Men Good – Magneto Bad
Police Good – Criminals Bad
Allies Good – Germans Bad

This is a film which deals in shades of grey. Batman fights for good, but tortures and listens in on millions of phone calls. Gordon is a cop who does not trust his own team. The Joker hates the mobsters, but replaces them with something worse.

As such it is a good film for teenagers who start at that age seeing the shades of grey inherent in life. It is not a comic book film, but a film showing real life through comic book characters.

It is a film about Dark characters and a shocking end, but most teens should be able to deal with it and I expect most wil enjoy the violence and the sense of fear as we go to the cinema not to see to real world, but to see what could happen.

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