Artwork by Paullus23 from Deviant Art
By Will Barber – Taylor
Batman is 75 years old this year. To celebrate I shall be posting a Bat Cave full of reviews and articles dedicated to The Dark Knight. The seventh in the series is a review of Christopher Nolan’s 2005 reboot of the franchise Batman Begins. Drastically different from the previous live action film Batman and Robin, Batman Begins harks back to the Tim Burton movies but also creates its own independent world. The movie also gives greater psychological and emotional insight into The Dark Knight than has ever been seen before.
When his parents are killed, millionaire Bruce Wayne travels the world in search of a way to fight injustice. He ends up in Asia where he is mentored by Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul in how to fight evil. When he learns about their plan to wipe out Gotham City, his corrupt home, Bruce heads back to Gotham. Back in his original surroundings, Bruce adopts the image of a bat to strike fear into the criminals and the corrupt as Batman. But it doesn’t stay quiet for long. The League of Shadows, Bruce’s former mentors are on their way and only Batman stands between then and the destruction of Gotham.
Eight years after 1997’s disastrous Batman and Robin, Batman was reborn in Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film, Batman Begins. Unlike 1989’s Batman this film delved much more into the creation of Batman. While the ‘89 film had a certain subtlety and mystery about it, Batman Begins gives a better origin for the character. The film is much deeper and makes the idea of a man dressing up like a bat seem logical and reasonable.
We understand why Bruce chose the symbol that he does, it is because he wants to take the fear that he has and turn onto those that pray on the fearful. Bruce wants to take the most horrible period of his life and turn it into something positive. Though their methods are different, Bruce ends up becoming like his father, he becomes Gotham’s protector and benefactor. Using his deepest childhood fears and nightmares and turning them into a weapon shows Bruce’s progression throughout the film from an aimless wanderer to a man with purpose.
The acting in the film is fantastic as you would expect. Christian Bale’s, Bruce Wayne is a very convincing and interesting character. Bale easily makes us connect with his interpretation of the character and shows us how Wayne takes his wandering and carves out a niche for himself. During the scene where he discusses justice with Rachel you can see that Wayne is hurt and lost and needs a new sense of direction to not only come to terms with his loss but make sure no one else ever goes through the same pain as he did.
Liam Neeson also puts on a brilliant performance as Ducard/ Ra’s Al Ghul. Neeson inhabits the role of the sympathetic Ducard well and when the twist is revealed that he is in fact the real Ra’s Al Ghul he becomes menacing and threatening to Bale’s Batman. Even when he is being threatening Neeson still keeps a calm and cool demeanour together meaning he is even more threatening.
Morgan Freeman also makes a great Lucius Fox and gives a subtle but distinctive performance. Michael Caine plays Alfred Pennyworth as a surrogate father figure for the orphaned Bruce and in some ways represents the audience questioning why Bruce is fighting crime in Gotham. Rutger Hauer also gives a great turn as the villainous William Earle, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises in Bruce’s absence. His condescending manner to Fox and his patronising of Bruce means that when he finally gets his comeuppance we as the audience cheer.
Batman Begins is not only a great film. it is also the best origin story that the character of Batman has had. It makes his whole world seem realistic and almost relevant to our modern day society. It also delves into the psychology of the character in ways only the comics have really shown and paints a fascinating picture of a driven man out to seek justice.
THE DARK KNIGHT