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Why Batman's "The Dark Knight Rises" Is An Instant Conservative Classic
Townhall ^ | 07/27/2012 | Jerry Boyer

Posted on 07/27/2012 9:41:43 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The third film in the Batman series is a direct polemical assault on the French Revolution and its political heirs, which includes Occupy Wall Street and perhaps Barack Obama. I would say that it is the exact opposite of so many revolutionary-wannabe films from Fight Club to V for Vendetta (which has provided the tell-tale Guy Fawkes masks to the Occupy movement), except that in order to be opposite, they must in some sense be comparable and DKR is far superior to the others artistically, commercially and philosophically. The crazed theater shooter, if he turns out to be as much of an attempted revolutionary hero of the poor, the depressed, and the downtrodden as his predecessor at Virginia Tech, will prove to be a better match for the villain in the third film than for the one in the second film.

While superficial analysis has tried to make hay out of the name of the villain, Bane, which is a homonym for Bain, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney, the truth is that Bane the villain is philosophically much closer to Bam the President than to Bain the firm. Spoilers from here on…Bane is a man who speaks for the ‘oppressed’ (his word) masses against the upper classes. He is Gotham’s revolutionary ‘reckoning’ who urges the people to ‘storm’ (again his words) Blackgate prison and release the prisoners within. That’s the moment in the film at which I became sure that the French Revolution theme was intentional. Bane, like Robespierre, the real life villain of the French Revolution, uses the freed prisoners as the vanguard of the revolution and as citizen brigades to roust the affluent from their homes and expropriate their property, dragging them before citizen tribunals before which their guilt is already determined based on their class. They are then executed, judged by the lawless element of the city which had until the revolution been festering on the edge of society.

This film shows no ideological sympathy for the Occupy Movement. Bane, the terrible villain of the film, literally occupies Wall Street, taking control of the trading floor of the stock exchange. Police are hesitant to deal with the problem partly based on class warfare complaints that it’s not their money at risk, but the money of the wealthy Wall Street guys. But a trader explains that it is indeed the cops’ money too: that it’s everybody’s money that is part of the financial system, including cops’ pensions.

Bane was created by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nowlan, two “life long conservatives”, which is pretty unusual in the world of comic book creatives. He is, as his name implies, a curse, in this case the curse of class warfare. Interestingly, Dixon complained aboutRush Limbaugh’s misfire in trying to link the villain with Bain capital as part of some liberal media conspiracy.

How did things get so bad for Gotham? Partly it was a lack of profit. Bruce Wayne had become a recluse in his mansion, shrugging off the responsibility of running his company, and as his inner circle points out, where there are no profits there is no philanthropy. The Wayne Foundation ceased supporting the private religious program for at-risk motherless and fatherless youth who had aged out of the traditional government foster care system. The at-risk children became risky adults and became a feeder system for the army which Bane was gathering in the sewers beneath the city, literally chipping away at the foundations of the old order.

But it was not just a shortage of financial capital that ruined Gotham: moral capital was deficient too. Gotham’s social order was based on a lie: that Batman was evil and that the crusading District Attorney Harvey Dent died as a righteous martyr. As I pointed out in my review of the other two films in the series, the Platonic (and Machiavellian) useful lie is a major theme of the trilogy, and as I expected the lie would be found to be an inadequate foundation for long-term civil order. Alfred Pennyweather, the moral voice of the story, argues that it’s time to stop suppressing the truth, that truth must in the end have its day and be allowed to speak, whatever the consequences. Commissioner Gordon, the promulgator of the lie, is wracked with guilt and indecision about the lie and longs to correct it. Eventually, Bane uses the lie against the city, depriving it of legitimacy.

The film is not without some emotional, if not moral, sympathy for the foolish young idealists of OWS. Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman, is a morally confused young woman who wages class warfare through jewel thievery. She takes from those who, in her estimation, have too much. She delights in the fact that “There’s a storm coming,” and that Gotham’s rich are living too well, and on borrowed time. But when the storm comes, she sees the evil of it. A young protégé reminds Selina that this is exactly what she has been calling for, but now that it’s here, Selina sees that it is far worse than what it replaced. This is Nolan’s way of saying “Hey, idiot in the Che t-shirt, smarten up. If deep down you are the decent person you claim to be, you’ll hate the revolution you’ve been wishing for.”

About halfway through the film, I turned to my wife and said “It’s Dickens.” By which I meant the movie is a modern retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, albeit much lousier with hovercrafts and nuclear bombs. Bane is Robespierre, Miranda (played by French actress Marion Cotillard) is Madame Defarge. Batman is Sydney Carton. Now every time I write something like this, some joker (pun not intended) writes to me and says that I’m reading too much into it, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and it’s just a movie. I think I dislike those comments even more than the purely oppositional ones because they wallow in their own laziness and ignorance.

Toward the end of the film, Gordon offers a eulogy in the form of a long quote which begins “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” That’s the speech which Sydney Carton, the former ne’er do well playboy-turned-sacrificial-hero, gives before offering his life in exchange to save another. I told this to my son, Christopher, and he pointed out that the co-writer of the screenplay, Jonathan Nolan, told his brother (and the film’s director) Christopher to read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens before making the film.

The debate between left and right in the modern world has largely been a debate for and against the French revolution. Russell Kirk, the intellectual father of American conservatism, attributes the intellectual founding of the philosophy to the British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, author of the Reflections on the Revolution in France, the most important anti-revolutionary book ever written. The right argues for tradition; the left for revolution. In fact, the idea of ‘left’ and ‘right’ come from revolutionary era France. Those who sided with the old order sat on the right side of the French general assembly. Those who wished to overthrow it sat on the left side. In the Gospels, those who are destined for Hell are told to go to Christ’s left, while those destined for Heaven are set at his right. Let us be rid, then, of any delusions about a synthesis of leftist politics with orthodox Christianity.

In some ways the film is a throw-back to the original Batman, not the comic book one, but the one on whom the whole masked hero genre was based, the Scarlett Pimpernel, the nobleman cum masked counter-revolutionary hero who went about saving victims of ‘the people’s justice’ from the guillotine. Now conservatives have a new hero, and this time he has a much cooler name than “Pimpernel.”

____________________________________________________________

Mr. Bowyer is the author of "The Free Market Capitalists Survival Guide," published by HarperCollins, and a columnist for Forbes.com.


TOPICS: Music/Entertainment; Society; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: batman; conservatism; darkknight; hollywood; moviereview

1 posted on 07/27/2012 9:41:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I like the article, and I liked the movie. Prepare for FReepers who haven’t seen the movie to trash it though.


2 posted on 07/27/2012 9:49:25 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: SeekAndFind

Lifelong Batman fan. Seen the movie; it was fantastic. I agree with this article 100%. One of the most conservative movies I’ve ever seen.

Case in point: one little scene in the movie where Selena Kyle, who for most of the movie had viewed herself as a Robin Hood-esque class warrior, walks into an abandoned house after the “Revolution” she had wanted. The house was once beautiful, but not is a shell. There’s an old picture of a happy family on the dirty floor. Selena whispers, “This was once somebody’s house.” A girl next to her declares “But now it’s EVERYONE’S house!” And Selena just smirks. The house is no longer worth living in, and is destroyed.

That was one of the most small, subtle, beautifully-put cases against Marxism I’ve ever seen.


3 posted on 07/27/2012 9:52:32 AM PDT by pcottraux
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To: SeekAndFind

The article is right. I saw TDKR the other day, and it is definitely an ANTI-Occupy Wall Street movie. And the hero (Bruce Wayne) is a rich white guy who believes in PRIVATE charity.


4 posted on 07/27/2012 10:08:25 AM PDT by Charles Henrickson
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To: pcottraux

Well observed.


5 posted on 07/27/2012 10:09:37 AM PDT by agere_contra (Vote ABO. Don't choose the Greater Evil and then boast about how principled you are)
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To: EEGator

Seeing it this weekend, with the wife. Hope it’s as good as I’ve been hearing, although I will be watching it for entertainment value only.

I don’t pay movie prices to be instructed, even in a conservative way. Story first. If the director manages to get a few good philosophical, theological, or political licks in, so much the better. But story first.


6 posted on 07/27/2012 10:24:16 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: EEGator; pcottraux

NOT a comics book fan... but I had to watch the movie (don’t ask how I got it ;)) after all of the controversy over it..

I’ve seen MANY people saying it is THE best move... I don’t necessarily agree (we each have our won taste), BUT, it made a very clear point to what will happen (or something very similar) in the very near future if people don’t start understanding tyrants as leaders.. (marxism/socialism.. leading to communism). We would not be the first to go there.. but, sadly, I feel that many Americans have NO CLUE that it has been tried, and failed every time (or that they may be the first ones executed).

I’ll leave it at that.. I usually get lost in all of what I want to say and it ends up more confusing than when I started to express my point :p


7 posted on 07/27/2012 10:25:26 AM PDT by Bikkuri (Choose, a communist, socialist, or Patriot)
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To: pcottraux

I also liked Bruce Wayne’s response to Miranda when she was talking about green energy. “Not if it’s a bad investment”.


8 posted on 07/27/2012 10:35:24 AM PDT by bjcoop
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To: SeekAndFind

Thank you for this! Now I’ll see the movie. Boyer said all the right words—Dickens, Carton, Robespierre, Revolution, Burke, and alludes to Sir Percy Blakeney, descended from Crusader knights, another wealthy, seeming fop who takes his personal charity, honor, and chivalry seriously—governments and socially meted-out justice be damned.


9 posted on 07/27/2012 10:36:34 AM PDT by Mach9
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To: SeekAndFind; EEGator

I saw it last night and thought it was great, and yes, it did have a very anti-OWS, anti-leftist message. “Everything belongs to the people”...who suddenly find they have nothing and are huddled together burning bits of the furniture to stay warm (while, of course, the revolutionaries, Bane and Co., live large).

Dickens is all through it. Probably my favorite scenes were the “courtroom” scenes, which showed a kangaroo court where a judge who looks very much like Baltasar Garzon or an NYU professor “tries” people by asking them whether they’d like death or exile (which actually is also death). He’s seated in the midst of and peering over heaps of documents and rubble from the destroyed offices, looking like something you’d see in the offices of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while at the same time reminding me of all of the books and piles of legal and business documents that were scattered into the air by 9/11, when anti-civilization forces struck at the symbol of business and order.

I thought it was a great film. I can see why the OWSers might not like it, but I hope Freepers will see it before making a decision on it. Rush would be advised to keep his mouth shut until he’s seen it, too; he always hears just a bit of something, misunderstands it, and runs with it, one reason I’ve pretty much quit listening to him. Incidentally, I didn’t think it was any more violent or bloody than any other action or superhero film.


10 posted on 07/27/2012 10:49:42 AM PDT by livius
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To: chesley

In general, I’d agree that movies needn’t be instructive. Entertaining & clean are usually enough. But great fiction has been dead for decades. It’s about time Hollywood chose one of the old themes (the French Revolution and individual heroism) and played it out truthfully. We Americans still believe in heroes, and both novels mentioned gave us the best of the lot.


11 posted on 07/27/2012 10:50:37 AM PDT by Mach9
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To: livius

Love it—Bleak House, too!!!


12 posted on 07/27/2012 11:00:18 AM PDT by Mach9
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To: SeekAndFind
revolutionary-wannabe films from Fight Club to V for Vendetta (which has provided the tell-tale Guy Fawkes masks to the Occupy movement), except that in order to be opposite, they must in some sense be comparable and DKR is far superior to the others artistically, commercially and philosophically.

I haven't seen the new Batman yet, but Fight Club is an absolutely awesome movie.

There was a bit of tearing down society theme, but it was in the context where the character(s) advocating it was in the thralls of a complete psychological breakdown, so any agenda he had was pretty muddled.

And Bob has bitchtits.

13 posted on 07/27/2012 11:06:03 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: chesley

I didn’t find it to be preachy.


14 posted on 07/27/2012 11:18:45 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: dead

I agree. Fight Club was a great movie, V for Vendetta sucked.

“Eight months ago, Bob’s testicles were removed. Then hormone therapy. He developed bitch tits because his testosterone was too high and his body upped the estrogen. And that was where I fit...”


15 posted on 07/27/2012 11:24:35 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: SeekAndFind

Another theme that I thought was very important was the need to want your version to prevail more than the other party on a very deep motivational level. The need to climb out of the pit risk all in the task and really earn your freedom and success was beautiful. The winner of the fight is the guy that wants it the most and is willing to risk it all to win.


16 posted on 07/27/2012 11:25:41 AM PDT by smaug6 (We can't afford to be innocent!! Stand up and face the enemy.)
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To: EEGator
V for Vendetta sucked.

Absolute agree. What a bore fest that preachy mess was. And the mask was the best actor in it.

17 posted on 07/27/2012 11:26:58 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: EEGator

Well, I haven’t seen it yet, so can’t judge. And I wasn’t referring specifically to DKR, but to any movie. I go to movies to be entertained, and that is the only reason that I go.

If a movie agrees with me on these kind of issues, great. If not, I ignore those parts and watch the movie. If the disagreement is egregious enough, I leave.

If I know in advance that I am going to be offended, I don’t lay down my hard earned shekels.

From what I have experienced is previous Batman movies, I would probably go and enjoy even there were a liberal message to it.

In the meantime, if a conservative movie somehow slipped out of Hollywood, I say hooray.


18 posted on 07/27/2012 11:27:54 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: Mach9

Great! I agree, as long as it’s a good story.


19 posted on 07/27/2012 11:29:00 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: dead

His name is Bob Paulsen!


20 posted on 07/27/2012 11:29:35 AM PDT by Clemenza ("History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil governm)
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To: chesley

We are in agreement.


21 posted on 07/27/2012 11:34:27 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: SeekAndFind

A blockbuster movie with conservative themes made here in Pittsburgh? Our local Democrat hacks will never live it down.


22 posted on 07/27/2012 11:34:37 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Was TDKR made in Pittsburgh? Who woulda thunk? I thought Gotham was a metaphor for NYC....


23 posted on 07/27/2012 11:46:42 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: SeekAndFind
Excellent article, thanks for posting.

I especially liked:

But it was not just a shortage of financial capital that ruined Gotham: moral capital was deficient too. Gotham’s social order was based on a lie: that Batman was evil and that the crusading District Attorney Harvey Dent died as a righteous martyr. As I pointed out in my review of the other two films in the series, the Platonic (and Machiavellian) useful lie is a major theme of the trilogy, and as I expected the lie would be found to be an inadequate foundation for long-term civil order. Alfred Pennyweather, the moral voice of the story, argues that it’s time to stop suppressing the truth, that truth must in the end have its day and be allowed to speak, whatever the consequences. Commissioner Gordon, the promulgator of the lie, is wracked with guilt and indecision about the lie and longs to correct it. Eventually, Bane uses the lie against the city, depriving it of legitimacy.

24 posted on 07/27/2012 12:44:23 PM PDT by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: chesley

It’s entertaining, believe me! It’s a long movie but it really grabs you.


25 posted on 07/27/2012 2:07:04 PM PDT by livius
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To: SeekAndFind
Indeed.


"There's a storm coming."

26 posted on 07/27/2012 2:09:41 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: livius

Great. My son and oldest daughter are coming to the house and then going to see it with us. Mama’s treat, of course. So she’ll have a great time, which means I’ll have a good time


27 posted on 07/27/2012 4:22:02 PM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: chesley

When Mama’s happy...


28 posted on 07/27/2012 4:33:43 PM PDT by livius
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To: livius

It is one of those rare movies that I can probably watch over and over. The number of lessons in life are in the dozens. The last twenty minutes of the movie....probably make it a five-star movie.


29 posted on 08/13/2012 1:57:04 PM PDT by pepsionice
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