The Dark Knight's Incoherent Action Explained By This 20-Minute Video
You may remember the videos from a few weeks back that proposed a theory of "chaos cinema", picking apart the way modern action films are constructed and arguing that their quick cuts, impressionistic action and shaky camera rendering them viscerally powerful but emotionally meaningless. Whether or not you agreed with the argument they were fascinating, incredibly thoughtful videos to watch, and now the same site that posted that one, Press Play, has taken the conversation further.
In this 20-minute video, film critic Jim Emerson dissects the famous car chase action scene from The Dark Knight, in which The Joker interrupts a police convoy carrying Harvey Dent and causes a whole lot of mayhem on an underground highway near the Chicago River. He's not arguing that it's a bad sequence, exactly, but proves clearly that individual choices by Christopher Nolan and the editor Lee Smith break with all established filmmaking logic. Even if you haven't heard of things like the 180 degree rule, Emerson explains it clearly, not grinding an axe against the movie but just pointing out something that's obvious if you slow the film down and really examine it. Check out the video below-- he also includes the scene unaltered so you can see what he's talking about when he's done.
Since its release in 2008 The Dark Knight has become one of those holy grail movies on the Internet, the kind of thing you can't say a single bad word about without setting the comments on fire. But Emerson obviously isn't just trying to start a flame war here-- he's taking a measured, very slow and very informed look at a scene that definitely works, but lacks logic in a way that makes it more confusing than it had to be. Feel free to defend the movie in the comments-- but please watch the video before you do it. You can love The Dark Knight and still agree with what Emerson is saying here, and you'll probably be a smarter moviegoer for it.
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