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Review, The Dark Knight Rises

One of the themes of the movie The Dark Knight Rises is symbolism. Bruce Wayne says that he encases himself in the Bat suit because he doesn't want Batman to be seen as an individual. Batman is a symbol of what humans can do when they're sympathetic toward fellow humans. When a person risks everything in order to be a force of good, then they become more than an individual. We have many such symbols in our culture: a military uniform, a police uniform, a nurse, a doctor...the list goes on. We probably know a few of those people.

The Dark Knight Rises takes great care to emphasize the anonymity of the character of Batman. However, this being a movie also about Bruce Wayne, the audience is privy to his inner turmoil. In the first of the trilogy, Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne struggles to lose the debilitating fear brought on by the brutal murder of his parents. In this movie, though, he realizes he must find that fear again. He comes to realize that fear is what keeps us human. Fear is what drives us to protect ourselves, and to protect the ones we love. In order to protect his city, he must truly understand what’s at stake.

The movie unfolds as Bruce Wayne is struggling to define himself and his role as Batman. Gotham is once again vulnerable, and an especially gruesome and terrible villain enters the void. This villain takes what he wants, and without the direction and hope of the Batman symbol, the city doesn’t know how to fight back. Not at first, anyway. Desolation gives way to inspiration as we see some of the inhabitants find strength and cunning they didn’t know they had.

The destruction in the wake of this new madman reflects the terrible circumstances of far too many real events. After watching this movie, though, I find myself looking up, hoping to see the light of the Bat Signal against the sky; hoping to see the silhouette of Batman on the roofline of a skyscraper. I find myself hoping someone will rise above it all and help humanity in a way we have trouble helping ourselves.


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