So, I saw The Dark Knight this afternoon. It was very hot and I figured a cinema might be the best place for air con.

The Dark Knight, first thoughts

I did like it. I liked that there was a different sort of colour palette for this movie, and that there was a nice use of dark versus light on screen.

I was MASSIVELY glad that I was strict and didn’t see any spoilers beforehand. A few things would really have been ruined if I’d let myself click a lot of links I’ve seen lately.

I did think it was a bit slow in pacing sometimes. I hear talk that some people think it never lets up, but who are these people?

What else? Bale was perfectly fine as Bruce/Batman and is good at differentiating the two. By far the best Batman I’ve ever seen. I do remember being pleasantly surprised that Batman Begins was such a great movie. I own the other Batmovies in a box-set and honestly only really like the one with Two-Face and the Riddler, which is Forever? Not sure.

I did not notice Michael Anthony Hall!

William Fichtner is so cool, isn’t he? I always like him in movies. Like Chris Cooper, I guess. Oh, and the Scarecrow! What the fuck was he doing there as a wanna-bat?

Nestor Carbonell was adequate, but I always associate him with Suddenly Susan which is probably unfair.

Maggie Gyllenhaal better than Katie Holmes but didn’t exactly get much to do. I can’t help thinking that we didn’t ever see the body……. maybe just wishful thinking.

Michael Caine was given some excellent lines but still… I feel like he could’ve been there more. I guess it’s not the Adventures of Alfred, though. Same with Morgan Freeman. Gotham-wide sonar was wicked sinister.

Have I been through the cast yet?

Oh, there’s Aaron Eckhart. I remember first seeing him in Erin Brockovich and being distinctly underwhelmed. I really liked Thank You For Smoking and now as Harvey he was great. I do love how these Nolan Batmans really show how characters became who they were… or at the very least don’t leave characters as 2-d cartoons.

I haven’t forgotten anyone, have I?

oic. so sry. y so srs?

So, Heathus Christ of the Ledger-Day Saints, then…

I’d like to say that I’d have been as transfixed had he not died.

I would’ve been. He reminds me a little of the Phantom of the Opera… one of those characters who one searches for in every single frame of film, and who, when on screen, commands attention absolutely. Of course, that’s where the similarity ends, because the Joker is an Absolute Psychotic, a raging ball of insanity and anarchy.

That tick of his, of sort of licking his lips, was quite brilliant. I know this because I was mimicking it on the way home without realising – I have done this after two other movies – The Godfather and Michael’s odd handkerchief work after having his face busted, and The Aviator and Howard’s obssessive hand thing. It might not seem like a compliment, but it’s something that draws me in without realising and has me unconsciously mimicking it.

And yet… I was unsatisfied by it. Why? The Joker’s ending reminded me of the movie Giant. In that, James Dean’s character sort of disappears… which like The Dark Knight, might have been exactly as intended. Now, it’s really easy to compare Ledger to Dean now, but bear with me.

It just doesn’t feel enough. The last thing we see Heath doing is hanging upside down? That’s not enough, just as those long-shots of drunken Jett in Giant aren’t enough. No doubt in The Dark Knight it was kept open just enough to allow for the possibility of his return – which now won’t come.

It’s not enough, and of course it never will be enough. With Dean, Giant was the last of it – the last sight of Fabled Jimmy Dean was as a drunk, isolated oilman smothered in ageing make-up. I guess with Heath we at least have the possibility of the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus… but quite when we’ll get that is still, I hear, up in the air a little. Still, it might be Gilliam’s most anticipated movie ever. A shame, because he doesn’t need that crap.

Whatever we get from Heath in Imaginarium, it won’t be enough. It will never be enough. You know, I saw A Prairie Home Companion, another ‘last’ film for someone, although this time Robert Altman. In that, the angel of death says the following:

“The death of an old man is not a tragedy.”

It isn’t, no matter how much an old man’s family might yearn for them. If the death of an old man is not a tragedy, then surely the death of a young man is. What a tragedy it is to lose someone capable of summoning up complete and absolute chaos, capable of reining in psychosis and letting it rip as and when required – I personally believe that Heath’s great achievement in The Dark Knight isn’t the chaos, but the control of it.

There wasn’t a moment in the movie that he seemed to resort to ham, nor to the comedic nonsense that marked out say, Romero or Nicholson’s  Jokers. He never stepped over the line into unbelievable and that chills me to the fucking bone.

I hope it wasn’t the Joker that pushed Heath into a manner of living that killed him, because it wouldn’t be worth it – there’s not a role in all of cinema worth that. And yet… it is such a performance, as much for what he did not say, did not do as for what he did say and did do.

I am so awfully glad that Heath’s performance is everything I expected from an actor like him. But then, what a waste of life for him to die when he did.

He’s the first, you know. He’s the first of those guys for our generation to lose. That’s why this feels the way it does. It’s all downhill from here. We’ll lose more and more until one day we’re old, grey and when these people die it’s no longer a tragedy. One day, the people who run the media won’t even know why we care. There will only be a few left one day, and then they’ll go too – like Cyd Charisse quite recently. We have begun to lose the very last of Old Hollywood, just as we have begun to lose the first of New Hollywood.

It’s going to hurt, you know. It’ll hurt like it hurt to leave the cinema today, one movie closer to the end of potential. He won’t be the last, but he was one of the best. That’s why it hurts like this.

And yes, I did let a few tears slip as I walked home in the Sunday evening sun, because I remember being young and seeing a young man in leather trousers singing across a school field, and I remember arguing with a friend over whether A Knight’s Tale was a great movie or a terrible movie (I was on the side of great, although I don’t believe it’s stood the test of time well, as with most gimmick movies), and I remember being surprised at The Four Feathers being as good as it was when people trashed it. I remember thinking Ned Kelly was a good performance desperate for a good movie, and I remember really liking The Brothers Grimm and not getting why more people didn’t see it or like it.

And God, I remember how excited I was to see the Joker on the cover of January 2008’s Empire magazine, and for the first time being caught up in a comic book movie… itching to see it…. and I remember that feeling when I flicked the news on my computer and saw Heath was dead. How surprising it was, how terrible it was, and how I wished someone had got the news wrong.

All that, for someone I respected, once had a dream about, and yet wouldn’t have said ‘I adored him’.

Yes kids, your generation has started to lose its heroes and great men. This will hurt.

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