The Order in Action
The Dark Knight Rises"/>
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The Order in Action
The Dark Knight Rises

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MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE SEEING THE MOVIE.

The Dark Knight Rises is beyond Left and Right, beyond good and evil, beyond any frame of reference that this society can understand. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy closes with a vision of weaponized Traditionalism certain to be misunderstood by movie reviewers and talking heads who think in terms of Republicans versus Democrats. It’s similarly beyond the grasp of fanboys playing compare and contrast with The Avengers or Superman.

That said, it’s a comic book movie, it’s a blockbuster, and the demands of the medium necessitate that Nolan cannot go all the way. The most interesting characters are, as always, the villains.

That said, there is something deeply unsettling at the heart of this film, a strange uneasiness that cannot be shaken even after applause fades, the credits roll, and the costumed audience tromps happily into the early morning after a midnight showing. The murder of 12 people at a premiere in Colorado throws a glare on the sickness at the heart of our own society, begs a comparison between the corruption of Gotham and the rot of our own post-America, and forces us to ask, “Is the fire rising?”

The film is utterly unintelligible without the other films in the trilogy. It begins with Gotham paying tribute to its fallen white knight Harvey Dent, who is remembered as an incorruptible crusader against injustice. The symbol also serves as the justification for Dent Act, which keeps the soldiers of organized crime behind bars without hope for parole. However, the fragile peace of Gotham is based on a lie: Batman accepted the blame for Harvey Dent/Two Face’s killing spree at the end of The Dark Knight. Gotham has stability, but it is the stability of a static and lifeless society, a soft but pervasive repression reminiscent of Brezhnev’s Russia, with an explosion just below the surface.

The lie has taken its toll on both Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Gordon is weary, tired, almost broken by the burden of having to live out the necessary falsehood. His victory over crime is hollow, his usefulness exhausted, and his civilian superiors already planning his replacement. In The Dark Knight, there is an agonizing moment when his wife Barbara is told that he has been killed, followed by a tearful reunion when his necessary deceit is revealed. By the beginning of this film, Barbara has embraced the noble equality offered the gentler sex in our enlightened time and abandoned him, of course taking the children with her. “Manning up” and doing what is necessary to save one’s city and loved ones is ruthlessly punished by modernity, as it always is.

Wayne, meanwhile, has become a recluse, obsessing over his lost love Rachel Dawes, whom he still believes was waiting for him. His great task of saving Gotham accomplished, Wayne is physically and emotionally crippled. Wayne’s only project is the predictable endeavor of any good Hollywood superhero/tycoon: the pursuit of clean energy. He is assisted by Miranda Tate, a (seemingly) typical liberal do-gooder philanthropist, dreaming of sustainable development, and no doubt, helping the underprivileged, uplifting the oppressed, and doing it all from her drawing room. Unfortunately, Wayne learns that the fusion reactor they were developing could be turned into a weapon, so he shuts the project down, costing Wayne Enterprises millions. As the Joker points out in The Dark Knight, Wayne and Gordon are both “schemers,” trying to “control their little worlds.” As a result, they are trapped by their lies, their fears, and their insecurities.

One of the first signs that the peace is breaking is the emergence of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman), a cat burglar seething with resentment against the privileged. Contemptuous of Bruce Wayne and other limousine liberals flattering themselves with their own altruism, Kyle seduces and steals from high society as an act of vengeance, but she is actually seeking an escape from her past. She removes a necklace from Bruce Wayne’s safe, but more importantly, steals his fingerprints for an unknown use. While she thinks she is striking back at the decadent rich, she is actually being used as a pawn by a more dangerous and dedicated group with a higher end in mind than class warfare.

Their leader is Bane, a hulking but brilliant mercenary who was supposedly “excommunicated” from the League of Shadows. Having (literally) built an underground army, Bane’s plans are disrupted when Commissioner Gordon discovers their existence, ending up hospitalized. From his bedside, Gordon pleads for Batman to return. The League of Shadows, which trained Bruce Wayne and in many ways “made” Batman, is the Traditionalist Order headed formerly headed by Ra’s al Ghul. Batman turned on the Order in spectacularly unconvincing fashion in the first film. Why Batman turned on his erstwhile creators remains unanswered in The Dark Knight Rises. Batman merely states that they were a bunch of “psychopaths,” a strange claim coming from a man dominated alternately by childhood fears and long vanished pseudo-girlfriends.

Recognizing that Bruce is trapped by the past, Alfred reveals that Rachel had chosen Harvey Dent over him and that he had concealed it to spare Bruce pain. Alfred also pleads for Bruce to leave everything behind, pointing out Bane’s obvious skill, strength, and training. Bruce refuses, seemingly hoping for death. Alfred confesses that he never wanted Bruce to come back to Gotham, as there was nothing for him there but pain, and confesses a fantasy of him living abroad, somehow having gotten beyond Gotham City. Alfred tearfully leaves Bruce Wayne’s service, leaving Batman truly alone for the first time.

After a brief liaison with Miranda Tate, Bruce Wayne uses Selina Kyle to reach Bane, counting on Kyle being more than a mere criminal. He’s wrong. He is betrayed and forced into a confrontation with Bane, who calls him “Mr. Wayne” (to Kyle’s shock). Bane breaks him, defeating him in physical combat and snapping his spine, before throwing him into an open air prison below the earth. Crippled, Bruce Wayne will be forced to watch the suffering of Gotham while being taunted by the promise of freedom above.

With Batman removed, the League moves with startling swiftness to take over Gotham. A police raid into the sewers to capture Bane’s forces backfires, and the police are trapped en masse below the earth. Bane uses his more materialistic pawns to capture Wayne Enterprises and seize the nuclear device Bruce inadvertently provided, as well as Batman’s arsenal. Bane reveals the bomb’s existence after an attack at a football game. He exposes Batman and Gordon’s lies about Harvey Dent and gives Gotham to “the people,” by freeing the “oppressed” criminals imprisoned by the Dent Act. The result is that Gotham becomes a kind of Paris Commune, with the possessions of the wealthy seized outright and dissidents condemned to death by Dr. Sebastian Crane (Scarecrow), the only villain who appears in all three movies, who returns as a revolutionary hanging judge.

Commissioner Gordon, fresh from the hospital, tries to rally what resistance he can. He is assisted by John Blake, an officer who has discovered the true secret of Batman’s identity and wants him to return. The few above-ground police fail to win back the city, as an effort to smuggle in Special Forces from outside fails miserably.

Meanwhile, Batman recovers slowly underground. He learns about the origins of Bane and his connection to the League of Shadows and Ra’s al Ghul. To escape the prison, which only one other person (Bane) has done, he must climb out of the darkness and into the light, as the other trapped prisoners chant “Deshi Basara” (he rises).After several failures, Wayne is told that he can only escape if he climbs without a safety rope – meaning that another mistake will mean certain death. Wayne climbs and escapes, reborn as Batman. After saving Gordon, his fiery emblem announces his return to Gotham. He frees the police, and together Batman and his new army assault Bane’s base of power at City Hall.

Batman manages to defeat Bane in their rematch, knocking off part of Bane’s mask which delivers a gas that eases his chronic pain. At the moment of Batman’s triumph, Miranda Tate plunges a dagger into him, revealing herself as Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia and the real escapee of the prison. Bane was merely her guardian, who was injured defending her and expelled from the League because of his love for her. Talia attempts to trigger the bomb, but the mechanism has been disabled by Gordon, buying a few moments. She flees in one of the Tumblers (Batmobiles) to guard the bomb. Kyle appears and kills Bane with firepower from the Batpod, and together Batman, Kyle, and Gordon chase down the bomb. Talia is killed, but there is no way to disable the bomb. Thus Batman heroically flies the bomb over the ocean, where it detonates, apparently killing him but saving the city.

In the aftermath, Gotham memorializes Batman as its true hero. Bruce Wayne is remembered simply as a victim of the class violence. His true identity remains a secret, and most of his assets go to help underprivileged children. John Blake (whose real first name is revealed to be Robin) is given the coordinates of the Batcave in Wayne’s will. Gordon, still Commissioner, finds a new Batsignal on the roof of the police station, suggesting Blake has taken up the mantle of the Batman. A heartbroken Alfred travels overseas. At a café, he suddenly looks up and nods, and the camera reveals Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman, but he is still alive.

From the perspective of Bruce Wayne, the film has to end as it did. While there were rumors that Batman would be killed off, this “darker” ending would actually have been a cop out. Bruce Wayne’s obsession with the Batman, with Rachel, and his own death wish show that he never learned to put suffering behind him. As Alfred points out, “You see only one end to your journey.” Wayne has the characteristically American attitude that bad things cannot happen to good people, and that suffering is a vast departure from the way things ought to be. As a result, when something bad does happen, he can never move beyond it and becomes brooding and obsessive. The ability of Bruce Wayne to put down the mask and move beyond that Bat is necessary for his character to show growth, in some ways, the first real growth since the death of his parents.

What Wayne never goes beyond, and the movie never explains, are his continued sacrifices on behalf of Gotham. When Selina Kyle begs him to leave the city, pointing out that he’s “given these people everything,” Batman says, “not everything. Not yet.” But who are these people? At the beginning of the film, when Bruce Wayne is brooding in his lair, he says to Alfred, “There’s nothing for me out there.” Instead of living, he is, in Alfred’s words, “waiting for something bad to happen.” Wayne is so disgusted with Gotham that he can’t even bear to experience the peace he created at such a terrible price. Even his grand victory at the end of the trilogy is moving beyond Gotham, putting down the mantle of the Bat, and abandoning his own identity or anything that could tie him to a place that only brings him tragedy and pain.

The motives of the so-called villains are more substantial but would seem incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t seen Batman Begins. The most important role of the League of Shadows is to bring “balance” to civilization by destroying the centers of degeneracy when the rot has become too great. Like Constantinople or Rome before it, Gotham’s time has come. While Batman managed to stop Ra’s al Ghul, Bane and Talia have come to finish the job.

The Dark Knight Rises thus gives us a portrait of an Order in action. In the first scene, when Bane and his comrades seize a nuclear scientist from a CIA flight, Bane orders one of his men to stay behind. Addressing him as “brother,” he explains that the enemy will expect to find at least one of their bodies in the wreckage. Seemingly unaffected, with a beatific smile, the League member asks, “Have we started the fire?” Bane nods and responds, “The fire rises” (0:28). Bane habitually executes members who fail and demands (and receives) complete willingness to die from his comrades. “Where do they find such people?” asks one awed observer.

The first two targets Bane attacks in Gotham are heavy with meaning.

The first is the stock exchange. As Bane takes control of the trading floor, a stockbroker pleads “There’s no money here, there’s nothing to rob!” Heavy with contempt, Bane responds, “Then why are you here?” After completing the financial takeover of Wayne Enterprises, a non-League member accuses Bane of taking his money but not doing what he wants. Bane responds, “And this means you have power over me?” Realizing for the first time that he is confronting someone who has a higher end than money, the criminal asks “What are you?” prompting the response, “I’m Gotham’s reckoning.” Bane is not in it for money, and the League of Shadows looks with contempt at the vulgar traders and materialistic grubbers that constitute the supposed elite of the city. The League of Shadows is going to pull down the Kali Yuga in Gotham, whatever it takes.

At the same time, this is no egalitarian rant against “the rich.” The Dark Knight Rises may be the most contemptuous treatment of egalitarianism ever produced on film. Needless to say, what passes for the American Right is not intellectually capable of understanding it, alternately complaining that Bane was created in order to attack Mitt Romney’s finance capital firm or thinking it is a partisan attack on Occupy Wall Street in the name of millionaires like Romney and Bruce Wayne. Instead, The Dark Knight Rises is a direct attack on the idea that people can manage themselves.

Bane’s second target is a football stadium hosting a pointless spectacle where a mostly white audience lives vicariously by watching mostly non-white players throw and chase a ball. The game begins with the singing of the national anthem, as if Nolan is telling us that pointless distractions are what America is all about today. If the stock exchange was the “bread” of this degenerate society, sports are the “circuses,” and it is significant that Bane decapitates the political leadership of the city by blowing up the mayor’s skybox at a sporting event. Bane takes away the diversions and forces the people to re-engage with History.

When Bane seizes control of Gotham, he claims that he is coming to “liberate” Gotham and tells the masses to “take control” of their city. He also frees the prisoners on the grounds that they are “oppressed,” all de rigueur left-wing talking points. The result is a complete breakdown of the city, with a criminal lunatic (Crane) serving as the focal point of power. The upper classes are destroyed, and the “people” instantly give themselves over to pointless consumption in a manner more degrading than the most spoiled trust fund baby. When one of Selina Kyle’s erstwhile comrades celebrates that Wayne Manor now belongs to “everyone,” Kyle is disgusted.

It turns out that Bane and Talia are planning on eventually destroying the entire city with a nuclear bomb anyway. While many conservative commentators claim that this is evidence that Bane (and thus Occupy Wall Street) is motivated by pure evil, the real message is far more subversive. Bane allows the city to live for a few months to show the world what Gotham’s citizens are capable of. Libertarian ideologues and socialist revolutionaries get their chance, as the boot of the state is taken off, and the police are trapped underground. The result is an ugly, starving society ruled by the insane.

Bane delays destroying Gotham because he wants the world to watch how freedom failed. He gives the city a false hope by letting the people govern themselves, knowing they are not capable of it. This isn’t the conquest of a healthy society – it’s a laboratory experiment where the League of Shadows knows the outcome. A simple killing would be too merciful. The punishment “must be more severe.” Only when the consequences are unmistakable and the corruption has been ripped out by the root will Bane give Gotham permission to die. Liberalism, classical or otherwise, is so self-evidently stupid that Bane gives it free reign knowing that it will fail spectacularly. Even more impressively, Bane and the other members of the League are willing to remain in the city when the bomb detonates, dying so that the corrupt world can be reborn. This is a creed of iron that demands the whole man in order to make him something more.

Batman is a more severe problem for the League because he is a product of the same Order as Bane, thus he is capable of withstanding his attack. Batman harnesses Traditionalism and the aristocratic (or even fascist) principle to save society from itself. Bane explicitly recognizes this. When Batman fights Bane the first time and uses his usual tricks, Bane comments, “Theatricality and deception are powerful weapons to the uninitiated . . . but we are initiated.” When Batman is broken and left in the darkness, he is symbolically “killed,” only to be reborn after he remakes himself and climbs into the light, a motif familiar to the ceremonies of many fraternal and religious orders. The use of ritualistic incantation is another indication that we are not watching a superhero with magical powers but the product of initiation.

But to what end? When Batman is recovering from his injuries in the darkness, he has a vision of Ra’s al Ghul who taunts him that after years of complete sacrifice, the most that Bruce Wayne could achieve is a lie. At the end of the movie, once again, this is all that is achieved. Bruce Wayne did not die either as a victim of class warfare or as a hero of Gotham. He fled the city to pal around with Selina Kyle in Florence, enjoying lunches at fashionable restaurants. He cannot bear to live among the people he saved.

Wayne Manor is turned into a shelter for the children of the slums, postponing the inevitable end that the League was founded to hasten. Batman lives on through Robin John Blake, but the whole point of the trilogy was that Batman was supposed to be a temporary measure until the city could be returned to health and the “normal” system could govern without recourse to masked vigilantes.

Of course, this is the essential problem with Bruce Wayne’s worldview. The return of the bat signal suggests that the extraordinary will always need to sacrifice themselves for the ordinary. Bane showed the true face of Gotham, but it was saved regardless, and it will continue to be saved by heroes that have to emerge from outside of society. Good men like Gordon are destroyed by the society that produces them, stripped of family and honor. Darker heroes like Batman find they can no longer even live in it. The best solution that can be offered is more charity from the rich, as if a Band-Aid can stanch a sucking chest wound. Batman’s plea to save the city because there are “good” people is a pointless banality reminiscent of Judge Smails from Caddyshack. The League of Shadows presents a radical critique of society, and all Batman tells us is that we have to stand for “goodness” and not “badness.”

The Batman trilogy poses deep questions about the nature of society, the importance of Radical Traditionalism, and the meaning of heroism. However, ultimately, it can only give the same answer as The Avengers: heroes are heroes precisely because they use their gifts and dedication to safeguard a world that is unworthy of them, preventing any attempts to turn it into something greater. The Kali Yuga rolls on, the corrupt look up and shout “save us!,” and heroes hasten to the call. But the sparks are there, and the conflagration is being prepared.

 

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27 Comments

  1. WG
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand the American obsession with comic books and superheroes. It’s just another indication of the American predilection for avoiding reality.

    • Robert Pinkerton
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Neither does this American. Superhero, schmuperhero, stuporhero, pooperhero — secularization of the messiah myth.

      • Chace
        Posted July 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Secularization of the Messiah myth?

    • Kullervo
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I’m about sick of comic book movies too. The only ones I’ve really liked are select of X-men–the original, the second, and first class, basically the ones directed by Bryan Singer. To answer the riddle of Hollywood’s obsession with comic book heroes of late, one need only consider who runs Hollywood and who has created virtually every single comic book character. It’s another case of ethnic networking; why not pay royalties to yourself?

      By contrast, why hasn’t Hollywood tapped the enormous wealth latent in our golden age sci-fi literature? Even the Jewish greats, such as Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov have been largely ignored. There have been some indirect adaptations, such as the Alien franchise and Star Wars, and through James Cameron at times, but very few direct adaptations of novels. Philip K. Dick would seem to be the exception to this, as Hollywood seems to have a veritable obsession with him: Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and others. This may owe something to the success of Bladerunner, but it is curious. Silver Age comics, ie most of Marvel, are highly derivative of the sci-fi pulps, particularly Van Vogt and Sturgeon.

      • jack
        Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        The original X-Men trilogy were passible at best like the Spiderman films.

        The only one of the X-Men films I actually liked was the prequel First Class that the characters and plot were actuay interesting unlike the the other films.

        By contrast, why hasn’t Hollywood tapped the enormous wealth latent in our golden age sci-fi literature? Even the Jewish greats, such as Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov have been largely ignored. There have been some indirect adaptations, such as the Alien franchise and Star Wars, and through James Cameron at times, but very few direct adaptations of novels. Philip K. Dick would seem to be the exception to this, as Hollywood seems to have a veritable obsession with him: Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and others.

        They did try John Carter from Mars and look how that turned out.

    • Lew
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      The more I think on it, the more I think Nolan is a film genius. With his operatic sensibility, he took the Batman material and created something grand and exalting. Everything about TDKR was good, the writing, acting, cinematography, score, plot, subplots, themes, symbolism and dialog — “There’s no money here, there’s nothing to rob!” “Then why are you here?”. Nolan is the best in Hollywood at this time.

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted July 26, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, Zack Snyder, Peter Jackson: goy geniuses all of them. And David Lynch is an ultra-goy genius.

  2. Lew
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The League of Shadows presents a radical critique of society, and all Batman tells us is that we have to stand for “goodness” and not “badness.”

    I think you/Trevor are forcing some elements of your reading in heaping so much praise on the LOS stance toward society. This notion of standing for “goodness” rather than “badness” is not all he tells us.

    In point of fact, there are plenty of people in the decayed Gotham who are good by standards other than those of modern egalitarian society. These include Commissioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, the young Robin and the orphan boys.

    Thus, there seems to me an excellent reason Nolan associates the LOS and their radical critique of society with psychopathy and evil in these films. There is something evil about killing men like Gordon, Alfred, and the orphan boys to clear a path for a new society no matter how rotten the old one may be.

    In order for the LOS solution to society’s problems to come out looking good, you have to reject all prevailing values and moral concepts like good and evil. In effect, you have to turn a blind eye to the mass slaughter of people who don’t contribute to the rot.

    To me, Nolan seems to be suggesting that even though society is sick and decadent in the aggregate, the LOS solution is not the answer and in fact is just represents evil in a different form.

    • Gregory Hood
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Lew,

      I think this is a fair point and worthy of a longer response. I’m working on something on Radical Traditionalism and the Batman movies generally that will address your critique directly.

      For now, I’ll just say this. Obviously, there’s a better way to respond to the decadence than “Let’s kill everyone and start over.” However, two points.

      1. While the League of Shadows is a Traditionalist Order, this is also, well, a comic book movie and they are the Bad Guys. It’s going to be presented in a caricatured form. That doesn’t mean that below the surface these ideas aren’t worth considering, albeit with a different tactical response.

      2. It’s true Gordon, Alfred, and others are good people, and being “good” does mean something. The problem is that the society that they are defending actively destroys good people. Gordon loses his family, and had Bane not come, would have lost his job. Batman has nothing but tragedy and pain in Gotham. Even Alfred (a former SAS man according to the Nolan trilogy, so no softie) is left broken, his consolation coming in that Bruce has finally left Gotham and found peace.

      In a good society, men like Gordon and Alfred would be valued and rewarded for their contributions rather than punished. This is also what we have today.

      A white Marine who fights in Afghanistan for the United States is actively despised for his race, his religion (if he’s Christian), and his identity, and all the forces of high culture are united in trying to destroy him. Meanwhile, the more someone actively works to tear down the society and promote decadence, the more they are rewarded. Lady Gaga or Perez Hilton are more important and even honorable to contemporary Americans than evil racists like, say, George Washington or Chesty Puller. The more worthless you are, the greater the hero in modern America.

      In the face of that, the society has to be destroyed and rebuilt, or at least radically, radically reformed. Yes, “let’s kill everyone” isn’t exactly the best solution. But the fact remains that the League of Shadows has diagnosed the disease and Batman doesn’t even see the problem. Once again, in the end, all The Dark Knight has been able to defend is a lie.

      Excellent comment and I appreciate the feedback. I hope to have more on this important topic shortly.

      • Lew
        Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes, great points, as usual. I love the way you sum things up. What is there to say about a society that values the contributions of Lady Gaga more than those of George Washington or William Shakespeare? What there is to say about a society that denigrates White men while White men do most of the dying for the empire (Being consummate sadists, I’m sure Jews are particularly gleeful about this outcome)?

        I agree there is not much that can be said in defense of this society, so the question then becomes what the people who perceive this reality should do about it.

        It’s interesting how “appearance versus reality” and various types of “lies” are a consistent theme in these films. Three examples immediately come to mind for me:

        - Alfred lies to Bruce Wayne about Rachael’s rejection letter (TDK).

        - Harvey Dent orders Gordon to lie to his son as he about to be killed (Dent orders Gordon to “tell him it will be all right”), and Gordon does it. Previously, Dent was forced to tell Rachael the same lie before she was murdered The Joker (TDK).

        - Robin lies to the orphans on the bus as they are about to be killed (TDKR). At that point, Robin has no reason to believe they won’t be killed. When a different cop questions the propriety of this, Robin responds by saying it’s important to give them hope (or words to that effect).

        So, while I’d have to look for other examples to be sure, one of Nolan’s implications might be that people “in the know” about how things “really are,” people of deeper than normal insight who see through the lies, nonetheless must sometimes perpetuate lies to reduce harm to others.

        On this reading, Batman/Bruce Wayne consistently takes the lesser of two evils out of two bad choices.

  3. Andrees
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    This is an embarrassing recent neocon review of the same film:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/07/21/Dark-Knight-Rises-Review-Nolte

    The author sees Bane’s crusade and thinks he’s just jealous of the people with bigger wallets; listen closely and you can hear the *SWOOSH* of the deeper themes of the movie going right over the reviewer’s head: “[The film] is about many things, but it is mostly about a rousing defense of an America under siege by a demagogue disguising his nihilistic rage and thirst for revenge and power as a noble quest for equality…Aggression has already arrived in the form of Bane (Thomas Hardy), a hulk of a man burning with resentment against a society whose only provocation is being prosperous, generous, welcoming, and content — instead of miserable like him.” This shows that some of the worst characters in the film aren’t hyperbolic archetypes at all.

    As for the film, I was disappointed. The first half had a very bad atmosphere and inappropriate pacing. The movie’s content also doesn’t justify its length: Sidestories like Dr. Pavel and Gordon’s replacement add little to the movie, and scenes like John Blake’s armed infiltration of the hospital just seem out of place.

    • jack
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Thats the problem with people reading the subtext of movies they can infer what they want to see in the films.

      The Dark Knight: George W. Bush is the Batman

      http://www.cracked.com/article_18967_6-famous-movies-with-mind-blowing-hidden-meanings_p2.html#ixzz21NeV5rkJ

      Alex Jones review of the Dark knight Rises (leaked script pre-release, includes spoilers)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOvGfatjPMc

      How the Dark Knight Rises reveals Batman’s Conservative soul

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/9405999/How-the-Dark-Knight-Rises-reveals-Batmans-Conservative-soul.html

      Liberal Counterpunch review.

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/07/20/the-dark-knight-rises-a-bleak-bold-and-unflinching-vision/

      • Kiitos
        Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        I disagree with you. None of the reviews you listed comes close to putting a finger on the metaphysical struggle behind the fisticuffs. Particularly interesting is the Counterpunch/liberal take. No particular liberal themes are even touched on. TDKR takes the backbone of its plot directly from A Tale of Two Cities/The French Revolution. Bane is Robespierre, Talia is Madame DeFarge, and Batman is Sydney Carton.

        As Evola stated in his self-defense shortly after WWII (in front of a similar kangaroo court), his opinions are only those held by every typical aristocrat prior to 1789. A year we white Europeans are still coming to terms with…

      • Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

        Kiitos,

        Not to be a pedant, but Evola did not attribute his worldview to the aristocrats, usually, as in France, the first to “join the people”, — I believe Guenon said that no revolution could succeed unless the aristos had first betrayed their position — but to a universal heritage of ideas that themselves are ‘aristocratic’, which actually makes his statement broader and more powerful:

        “I have defended, and I still defend, “fascist ideas,” not inasmuch as they are “fascist” but in the measure that they revive ideas superior and anterior to Fascism. As such they belong to the heritage of the hierarchical, aristocratic, and traditional conception of the State, a conception having a universal character and maintained in Europe up to the French Revolution. … I reject all that which derives, directly or indirectly, from the French Revolution and which, in my opinion, has as its extreme consequence bolshevism; to which I counterpose the “world of Tradition.”

  4. Faustus
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Mr. Hood:

    Bravo!

    This was, without a doubt, the deepest and most carefully drafted compendium of philosophy, high-culture criticism, and pure journalistic art that I have ever encountered; this includes any mainstream press or theatrical dialogue I have ever read.

    Your perception of the ‘mass’ not being able to ‘respond or react’ intelligently may prove to be not so dramatic, as the powerful undertows of your article can but be a ‘shadow’ of the inherent power and message of the actual visual presentation – I think that it will, in fact, commit to a tremendous awakening (albeit unconscious until the light of the sun germinates the various souls who are made of better stuff), and will increase the ‘fire’ which has already begun to sputter from that long-enduring ember of spirit and myth.

    Thank you, once again, for your superb presentation – I am going tonight.

  5. rhondda
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this review. I don’t go to movies anymore. They depress me. I think we are more obsessed with anti-heroes than heroes now a days except when they walk out into real life like that besieged young white man James Holmes. I have a strange sort of compassion for him though and respect for those men who protected their girlfriends with their life.

  6. Faustus
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Bane:

    There is no True Despair, without Hope

    Fascinating.

    In point of fact, this movie was actually a lesser version of the Review, but not without many redeeming values.

    For its sheer strength of visual and audionic atmosphere, this was a true hit, as it is the atmosphere, the dichotomy of real and imaginary which allows the vehicle of moving pictures to create such philosophical appraisals.

    Dualistically, this was a powerful source of energy and definitive emotion, as the audience was spell-bound, affluent, and immensely uncomfortable.

    Super-Hero or Anti-Hero? Anti-Christ or Twilight of the Idols?

    They were all present in this presentation, and various presentations concerning absolute revolution, ala the symbolism of the French Revolution, the mass hysteria and mob action against the affluent and privileged was quite telling (women with diamonds and pearls in the theatre holding their necks in agitation, and husbands looking from the screen to their wives).

    The background stories, of Bane in particular, was quite interesting and rather compelling, as he was, too me, the perfect ‘anti-hero’, and there were many redeeming qualities in his life, Loyalty and ‘love’ being one of them; The ‘hero’, or ‘anti-christ’ was BW, but with a telling difference: While he stands for goodness, he never truly passes the bar, and continually prompted by either Alfred, or Ra’s al Ghul, or Catwoman who, by the way, was erotic and deftly proficient, by far the most seductive (and predictable woman) and talented ‘type’ to be seen in this series.

    I will defer to the Review, but the script was, itself, quite telling, and the undercurrent was very strong from a socialistic point of view, if not to a lesser degree traditional, as I found the traditional construct her to be pretty weak – the multi-cult mob of misfits and underprivileged was just another round of ‘what we have today’, and many times I was rooting for the ‘bad guys’.

    In the first movie, I loved the Liam character, and found Him much more Traditionalist than anything the modern has created, and his character was both Spenglarian and Nietzschean in character – as I loathed the act of betrayal by BW, in the hopes of ‘correcting the evil’ of Ra al Ghul, who chose him, succored him and, most of all, saw both the physical and spiritual qualities of BW; but, alas, the good is hard to fathom.

    I like the male/female interludes, as they are basically uncomplicated, but filled with reason and passion. The character of Miranda Tate was the perfect duality to Selina Kyle’s tentative flirtation with ‘manly’ individualistic love, held captive by a broken heart (rendering BW rather weak and, presumably attractive to a ‘modern’ women). Have to admit, loved her in Spikes and Leather.

    This is definitely a must-see, and is Epic if, for no other reason, as there is much that this movie will touch on as the years go by.

    Once, again, thanks for the Review Mr. Hood.

  7. UFASP
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    First, one should bear in mind that The Dark Knight and this movie each have huge continuity issues in terms of plot and how things unfold. But I agree with the comments here with respect to the atmosphere of these films. If nothing else, the presentation of this trilogy is something that I greatly appreciate and don’t expect to see replicated. These Batman movies are not “superhero movies” in the typical sense at all.

    Yes, Bane was a very likable villain who had lines that were nearly as good as the Joker’s in The Dark Knight. In particular, the “speak of the devil” line right before he showed that crony Wayne board member the meaning of power. I also didn’t see Bane as some sort of Marxist despite his rhetoric, but as an “agent of chaos” intent on using the resentment of these dregs as a means to an end. This should be fairly obvious given the League of Shadows’ mission. But all the same, I’m sure that went over the neo-cons’ heads who have anything to say on the film as they, heh, reach for their wallets.

    I’m so glad Nolan went with someone cerebral AND physically cunning like Bane instead of a boring villain that wouldn’t have tied in with the trilogy as well like the Riddler (which the studio was pushing for who is essentially a less interesting Joker). Nolan seems to have really understood what makes Batman interesting. (He understands that the villains are interesting but not just because they are all capable of being portrayed in a goofy manner like the 1960s show. This was lost on Warner Bros. the first go around.)

    Batman’s faulty “modern” morality aside, who didn’t get goosebumps when Bruce Wayne ascended from that prison? The chanting and that powerful visual motif alone was worth the fifteen dollar ticket. Michael Caine was also brilliant in this movie, the short time he was in it. If you can suspend your belief a bit (as in ignore human nature and that Batman’s mission is ultimately fruitless from the perspective of sites like CC), the movie is quite beautiful if flawed.

  8. Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    “Batman’s plea to save the city because there are “good” people is a pointless banality reminiscent of Judge Smails from Caddyshack. The League of Shadows presents a radical critique of society, and all Batman tells us is that we have to stand for “goodness” and not “badness.””

    Get Smart, the 60s vehicle of Judaic mockery, told us that Good would triumph over Evil, because it was, um, nicer.

  9. Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “Bane delays destroying Gotham because he wants the world to watch how freedom failed. He gives the city a false hope by letting the people govern themselves, knowing they are not capable of it. This isn’t the conquest of a healthy society – it’s a laboratory experiment where the League of Shadows knows the outcome”

    Mencken: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they need, and should get it — good and hard.

  10. denikin
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Not sure how accurate this review is. While there is definitely an anti-socialist/egaliltarian theme in the film, that doesn’t mean it’s pro-Tradition.

    Bane is no Traditionalist, he’s a Lenin type: someone who preaches about liberation and oppression while all he really wants to do is destroy and murder people. Lenin, of course, cannot be called a Traditionalist in any way; he was an insane nihilist.

    Bane-controlled Gotham, with its oppressive mercenary police force, show trials and “exiles” was an obvious stand-in for the early Soviet Union. So unless you think the people behind the USSR were secretly Traditionalists, I don’t think the analogy really holds.

    Furthermore I seriously doubt that either the Nolan brothers or David S. Goyer have ever even heard of Julius Evola or Traditionalism, so any kind of interpretation that takes them into account is due to the reviewer’s personal views.

    So while this article has many good points I think it’s central thesis is wrong. TDKR has nothing to do with Traditionalism, it’s a very basic anti-communist film.

    • Morgan
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      The last word on a text isn’t necessarily with the author.

      In order to advance the reading that it is purely an anti-communist film you have to isolate TDKR from the rest of the trilogy. Bane as a Lenin type collapses pretty quickly with the stock exchange scene and in the confrontation with Daggett. First, they show that he has utter contempt for the modern view that money should rule. Secondly and most importantly [the last parts of this dialogue are yet to be commented on, unfortunately], when Daggett realises that money means nothing to him he asks what Bane is, Bane responds that he is Gotham’s reckoning which prompts Daggett to blurt out that he’s pure evil. Bane cooly and with utter conviction replies he is necessary evil.

      Necessary to what? Clearly the bringing of decadent societies to the absolute nadir of decadence and then destroying them in order to restore balance to civilisation (read: bring about a Golden Age). Bane is not a nihilistic mass murdering criminal psychopath a la a communist militant, but a Traditionalist “fulfilling Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny”. Bane is not to be isolated from Batman Begins and the goals of Ra’s al Ghul/the League of Shadows. Remember, Bane also says that he “is the League of Shadows”—Bane’s motivation is the same as Ra’s al Ghul’s.

      We humans are fallible, what we perceive to be evil could be necessary for higher types of men and civilisation to rise. The elimination of such evil [i.e., holding the view that everything is infinitely progressing] could bring about greater evils, such as the utter anarchy that inevitably arises if we give libertarians and socialists their political ideal.

    • UFASP
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      “Bane is no Traditionalist, he’s a Lenin type: someone who preaches about liberation and oppression while all he really wants to do is destroy and murder people. Lenin, of course, cannot be called a Traditionalist in any way; he was an insane nihilist.”

      You don’t think this is a simplistic reading of the film? Have you not seen Batman Begins where the League of Shadows is fleshed out?

      “Bane-controlled Gotham, with its oppressive mercenary police force, show trials and “exiles” was an obvious stand-in for the early Soviet Union. So unless you think the people behind the USSR were secretly Traditionalists, I don’t think the analogy really holds.”

      Again, there is a lot more going on here. Think about what the ultimate mission of the League of Shadows is. Those show trials illustrated the validity of the League’s viewpoints about society being too decadent. You do recall that there was a bomb that was set to go off while all those show-trials were happening, don’t you?

  11. anon
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    In the real world the League of Shadows are both the people who cause the rot in the first place and the people who light the final match and gloat over the destruction they have caused. When you flick that switch in your head and rearrange aspects of the story to align with that reality the Batman is…awesome.

  12. Greg P
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    This review made some very good points about The Dark Knight Rises (DKR), but I would like to make a few myself.

    I disagree that DKR is “beyond good and evil,” and that it may contain a hidden, positive meaning, though I concede the opening paragraph makes for a good hook to get the attention of readers. Some good points were made in support of this analysis, but I believe it is flawed because the positive aspects of the League of Shadows (LOS) are mixed with powerful negative associations that ultimately serve to demonize their good aspects.

    The following are examples:

    1.

    Bane orders one of his men to stay behind. Addressing him as “brother,” he explains that the enemy will expect to find at least one of their bodies in the wreckage. Seemingly unaffected, with a beatific smile, the League member asks, “Have we started the fire?” Bane nods and responds, “The fire rises” (0:28). Bane . . . demands (and receives) complete willingness to die from his comrades. “Where do they find such people?” asks one awed observer.

    In this scene, we can see a potentially positive, idealistic, and heroic action. A comrade in arms willingly sacrifices his own life to serve the greater good (regardless of what you may believe to be right or wrong, the principle remains). This, by itself, could be seen as honoring sacrifice and idealism that transcend personal interests.

    However, Bane also “habitually executes members who fail,” as was pointed out. Anyone who has seen the movie will know that the scenes where he kills/orders the death of his men in the sewer and casts their dead bodies into the sewer system comes off as cruel and “evil.”

    So the end result in the mind of the very large majority of viewers is an association of disciplined self-sacrifice with cruelty, corruption, evil.

    2.

    The League of Shadows, which trained Bruce Wayne and in many ways “made” Batman, is the Traditionalist Order headed formerly headed by Ra’s al Ghul [sic]. Batman turned on the Order in [a] spectacularly unconvincing fashion in the first film. Why Batman turned on his erstwhile creators remains unanswered in The Dark Knight Rises. Batman merely states that they were a bunch of “psychopaths,” a strange claim coming from a man dominated alternately by childhood fears and long vanished pseudo-girlfriends.

    Bruce Wayne’s completely “unconvincing” betrayal of the Order could be interpreted as a weak excuse devoid of reason that the intellectual, questioning viewer should see through, but I think there is a more simple and practical motive for this. Like the anti-whites who do not debate pro-whites or even legitimize those who stand against white genocide with a logical response but merely demonize us with name calling, in DKR Batman does not argue with the LOS, which if he did would prompt many viewers to question whether the LOS might have some points. Instead, he just calls the Order “psychopaths,” delegitimizing them and their arguments completely. What they believe, what they fight for is beyond the pale. Questioning whether they might have some points makes the viewer crazy, an object of social ostracism, a “psychopath” not unlike the lunatic who went on a shooting spree on the opening night of the movie.

    In short, they are utilizing classic tactics anti-whites use to shame and guilt white people into not questioning and actually supporting their own genocide into not questioning whether or not “bring[ing] ‘balance’ to civilization by destroying the centers of degeneracy when the rot has become too great” might be a desirable goal.

    3.
    This outcome is only supported by the humanizing of Bane and Talia by revealing their love and his sacrifice for her because it makes the point that despite their humanity, they are evil and must be stopped/destroyed. This has practical, real world implications. It actually makes sense to allow your enemy to be humanized to a small degree because often when an enemy is demonized as pure evil, like many who defend the right of white people to continue to exist, and a “normal” person meets them and discovers they are human after all, it backfires. When this “normal” person finds out the “enemy” is actually like them in many ways, it can suddenly legitimize their struggle. So by allowing Bane and Talia this 30 second nod of humanity but it not changing anything we are led to believe that they’re still “psychopaths” that must be stopped/killed/silenced, and their humanity doesn’t change that. So it can be seen as training people to avoid the backfiring of previous indoctrination.

    Now I’m sure my explanations are far from the only reasons things happened the way they did in DKR but I don’t think that affects the validity of the points made. Regardless of motives, these are still the outcomes I see coming from it.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      If I may, I think that Greg Hood has already dealt with this kind of objection. Remember, we are dealing with Hollywood here, so politically incorrect truths can only be allowed on the screen in the mouths of psychopaths. If we are going to use these movies as teaching tools, we have to clue people in on this and separate the truths from the window dressing.

      In reality, no organization could function with a Darth Vader at the top killing his henchmen simply for making mistakes or failing in missions that are never free of the possibility of failure. Such casual use of terror is demoralizing and leads one’s underlings hate you. Ideally, leaders need to be feared AND loved, not feared and hated. Also if people fear you too much for capricious violence, they will plot to destroy you. Think Caligula. Thus capital punishment must be reserved for treason. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

      • Faustus
        Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Agree.

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