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Dark Knight Rises Tragedy: A Retrospective

Friday, July 20th, 2012 by

Watching “The Dark Knight Rises” at a midnight screening last night in Nolan’s own Gotham City was a surreal experience. On a larger scale, the film tells the story of a catastrophic terrorism that results in a chilling alienation of the world’s most prominent city. It’s a thought which must haunt New Yorkers realistically every day after 9/11 and surely one which I stumbled upon while sitting in my seat watching Manhattan get destroyed. Sure, it’s a movie, but no one can deny that these scenes are hauntingly familiar. Part of this is due to Nolan’s mastery at the craft. He’s proven again that even if the plot may be convoluted and lacking in substance, the image will always be gripping. But, part of this can also be credited to Nolan’s reinvention of Batman as directly influenced by a post-9/11 mentality that doesn’t really make them “superhero” movies anymore. It’s the reflection of society’s paranoia. It’s the manifestation of our vulnerability as a viewer and citizen.

The beauty of this of course, is that the reality of this paranoia stops once that 168 minute run time is over. It’s a fictional world. By the very nature of my cushiony seat and arm rest, I am safe within this movie theatre. This is merely a sanctuary to indulge in my fears, to allow the vulnerability of “What if?”. Unless you had the tragic misfortune of watching this film in Aurora, Colorado’s Century 16 Theatre.

News of the event will continue being updated throughout the day, but as of now it was reported that about 30 minutes into the film a man in a gas mask stood up, set off tear gas, and began shooting the crowd. Twelve people have been reported dead, and at least 38 injured.

The description reads like a scene from the very film these victims were watching. A masked villain interrupts the solemnity and peace of the moment in exchange for ruthless power, chaos, and mayhem. Though his motives are not known yet, this 24 year-old man could fall in line with any of Nolan’s villains seeking to wreak havoc unjustly. In fact, this tragedy would seem to almost parallel the simultaneous scene of similarly masked Bane ruthlessly murdering an entire trope of citizens. It’s an eerie nightmare that instantaneously shatters any preconceived notion of the movie theatre as a sanctuary. It’s the defilement of many a man’s treasured bat-cave. It’s the chilling reinforcement that nowhere is really safe.

With the current state of the movie theatre industry already weakening due to competition from Netflix and other VOD platforms, it’s hard to believe that it’s future could be anything but permanently marred as a result of this catastrophe. I’m sure theatres will tighten security and implement metal detectors, but to what extent will this ever render the theatre a sanctuary once again? People want to watch movies without the inconvenience of leaving their home, but it feels even more salient now to have the option of watching a film, not in the COMFORT of your home, but in the SAFETY of your home. It’s a sad reality that theatres will become endangered relatively soon, one that I choose to remain in denial about due to my genuine love and excitement towards the movie-going experience, but it’s an even sadder and horrifying reality that such public spheres for average citizens could become targets of hate and violence. Paranoia has once again been aroused within our society, only this time it’s one the cinema cannot pacify. 

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