Friday, August 8, 2008

Becoming Two-Face

Alright, I admit it. I went and saw The Dark Knight again yesterday. That's either the 4th or 5th time, but I replay it so much in my head, its hard to say.

But unlike most, what I am doing is not just a visceral re-enactment, but rather a bit of "human condition" research and character analysis. The writing is good; the acting is very believable; the message is painful and breathtaking.


[spoilers - and only because you haven't seen the movie yet...]

So I watched Harvey Dent become Two-Face for the fourth time. What was strange at this viewing was how deeply I wept as our Dark Knight declared his payment and took upon himself the sins of once noble friend. Yeah, friend. Its not terrifically overt, but you can see Wayne go from being an ass to Harvey at dinner to being his biggest supporter in just a few choice words. Harvey, unprompted and obviously admiring Batman's zeal and work, declares his own unfailing loyalty to fighting crime and injustice.

Only one little problem: it doesn't turn out that way.

Why? I think I know. Screenwriters have to collaborate with the director and the actor to bring a fictional character to life. A good actor is an earnest viewer of humanity. The director "spots" him , tapping his strength, his heart. So you have three minds working bring out gut-level intuitive truth. Why does Harvey turn so hard into evil?

Because he gets wounded after he placed too much faith in himself.

"You make your own luck!" he says over and over again, even as he flips his special double-headed silver dollar (there ain't no tails, no other possibility UNTIL he is burned and his plans are destroyed). Harvey knows what will happen. He's got it all planned out.

Harvey represents what is good and idealistic in us. There is only one problem.

Our good is powerless as just an ideal. It must be made firm by sacrifice, by giving up what we love most. And sometimes what we love most is our desire to be proven right, to be justified, to be recognized as good, as right, as heroic.

Wayne has already sacrificed that by the beginning of the film. Remember Batman Begins? Bruce acts like a COMPLETE ass to save everyone's life at Wayne Mansion. Harvey hasn't done this -and when loss comes, he is unprepared. His descent is swift, his loss and pain cause first reasonable grief then unreasoning revenge. He even sides with the very one responsible for his pain all because of false sympathy and a twisting of the truth.

It is mind-blowing watching on-screen two actors portray the Fall of Mankind in this little venue of an American superhero film. What, you may say? How did you get there?

Satan is the father of lies. He doesn't care what he tells you as long as you will accept it.

Genesis 3:1-5

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."


There's some truth there -before all we knew was Good. Evil and its knowledge did enter us.

Joker, who's meticulously planned everything, sits down beside Harvey's hospital bedside and asks, "Do I look like a guy who has a plan? I just DO things!" He explains to Harvey its all the 'Planners' fault. He wants Harvey to not be mad at him. "I just did what I do best - I took their liiii-tle plans and turned them back on themselves!"

All lies. He just wants Harvey to listen to him. To become corrupted by his anger and loss.

The entire time, he's getting closer and closer, more intimate, more passionate, even to the point of placing Harvey's hand on a pistol and putting it to his own forehead so Harvey can kill him if he wishes. A brilliant tactical move, especially considering that the Joker's fingers are still on the trigger and hammer -watch closely and you will see the Joker does not give Harvey the control he thinks he has.

Oh, Satan. Never have you been so perfectly portrayed.

"If the light that is in you becomes darkness, how great is that darkness!" Jesus said that.

He warns about us getting bitter and envious. He knew that light can become darkness in a split second.

How can you and I become Two-Face? Is it by being wounded? Damaged? Losing loved ones?

No.

Its by listening to self-pity, the very voice of the Devil when it comes. And before you know it, you'll be trying to kill the very ones who used to be your friends.

One last thing: why did the Joker pick on Harvey Dent? The Batman gives the answer even as he tries to reach his former friend: "The Joker chose you because you were the BEST of us!"

Get it? You grab the best to destroy the most. Harvey's downfall will ensure all evil will be released again into Gotham and the people will lose heart.

Be well. And keep in mind, the more talents and gifts you have, the more the evil one wishes to corrupt your soul.

I mean that.

You just think about it, OK? And ask Jesus to save you from that.

Amen.

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