The Dark Descending

Not being much of a movie-goer, I rely on others to steer me towards or away.My former colleague at Boston College, Tom Hibbs, now Dean of the Honors College at Baylor, has a reflection on "The Dark Knight" that certainly impels me to see the film (if it's ever released in Boston).

Dark quests for redemption, whether religious or secular, abound in contemporary culture. As Nolans films indicate, these quest films owe a great debt to classic film noir. Classic noir takes aim at some of the treasured assumptions and promises of modernity. In noir, the modern world, embodied in an urban setting, is hardly the world of light, happiness, and peace that utopian thinkers of the Enlightenment foretold. Modernity is about human beings exercising control over nature and thus taking control of their destinies; in our modern technological project, knowledge and power are one. The postmodern turn in noir is about the loss of control, the absence of intelligibility, and the threat of powerlessness. But the quest has something pre-modern about ita sense of human limitations, of the dependence of human beings on one another and on events not in their control. In this world, the outcome of the quest is tenuous and uncertain.The title of the Nolans latest Batman film calls to mind medieval chivalry in a postmodern key. The dark knight embraces extraordinary tasks and fights against enormous odds; his quest is to restore what has been corrupted and to recover what has been lost. In so doing, he takes upon himself a suffering and loneliness that isolate him from his fellow citizens and inevitably court their misunderstanding and scorn. He is a dark knight, in part, because the world he inhabits is nearly void of hope and virtue, and, in part, because some of the darkness resides within him, in his internal conflicts between the good he aspires to restore and the means he deploys to fend off evil. Of the many filmmakers designing dark tales of quests for redemption, Christopher Nolan is currently making a serious claim to being the master craftsman.

The rest of Hibbs' review is here.Have any lucky New Yorkers seen the film?

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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