Its making lots of money. Tons of money. And the speculation is high on why its sooo good.
- Is it because of Heath Ledger's death - or his terrifying performance - or both?
- Is it because it touches on the reality of urban terrorism and criminal-control of our cities?
- Is it because the cast is so good, the script is so good, the humor so dark, or because the message at the end is both poignant and tragic?
Sending a Message
Now students of film know that the last frames of a film are the most important - they are the coup de grace of the screenwriter. They reveal what the message of the movie is, summing up what the characters (and the director & writer) believe in the final scene.
When a movie makes a lot of money, its reason is simple: its the message that grabbed the audience's soul. The stars and effects may get them to come see the film ONCE - but to see it again and again and again - what is necessary to really send the box office figures over the top - is because you agree with the message being sent.
In other words, if you agree with the film's message, you spend more and more of your money to see it, to invest in what you believe to be true, to experience it again and again. That's not hard to grasp, is it?
The message of the movie is that our souls are more important than money. Both the Joker and the Batman believe this. Both really have "disposable" income. Both are willing to sacrifice taht income to spread their messages: of either despair or hope.
Last night we studied the story of the rich young ruler from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10 verses 13-31. We started with Jesus WANTING the little children to come to Him, even though the disciples didn't think they were important.
When the young ruler comes up, the disciples think he's a shoo-in, but Jesus won't take him. This flabbergasts them. Then we end this account with Jesus promising a whole big bunch of things, from property to new relationships to those who actually invest in His work - His kingdom.
In other words, Jesus says, "Its not about the money, its about the message."
The Joker promotes a dystopian, "death and madness are supreme", anti-gospel.
But he's right. Its never about the money. Its about the message.
We will sacrifice any amount of money to feed our souls, to rescue our lives from the banal lives most fallen people have. We will do anything to make our lives meaningful.
And this, Jesus knows. That's what is so terrible about the Rich Young Ruler leaving. He's a good guy in our eyes - but he thinks its primarily about his money, his assets. They have given him respect and status and acceptance, and he dare not let them go.
At that, Jesus just shakes his head. "Children - how HARD it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!"
The disciples are 'exceeding astonished': "Who then can be saved?"
They assumed, like we, good people who do well, go to heaven. But that was a false assumption - if men could save themselves, Jesus would not have to pay for us and our damning sins, would He?
"With man, this is impossible," Jesus agreed. "But not with God. With God, all things are possible."
Jesus affirms every single act of trust in Him, the Son. But He gave up everything He had in heaven to send us this message: you cannot do it. Your money and resources are NOT enough.
In the final scenes, The Dark Knight ends with Gotham's best and brightest, a Rich Young Ruler, falling away and losing hope -even as another takes up his sins as his very own.
You want to know why The Dark Knight is breaking box office records?
Jesus is using it to speak God's truth into our hearts. The message of the gospel.
Don't believe it? Watch it again.
Who's sacrificing everything - his normal relationships, his vast wealth, his lucrative jobs, his respect in the eyes of all - everything a man could want - to save his people?
"You'll see! You'll see."
I hope you will. I hope you will see the true inspiration behind this excellent film.
[* BTW, if we adjust for inflation, Star Wars, Titanic and Gone with the Wind still reign supreme. But you also couldn't "wait for the DVD" or download it without paying to watch. So it's still impressive in its impact for a domestic film gross. ]