‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ is part of a long-running series created by Nathaniel Rogers at The Film Experience. It asks writers to pick their favorite frame of a movie and expand on how it represents the movie as a whole to him or her.’
I come to praise The Dark Knight, not to bury it.
Unfortunately, that’s a bit of a rarity for me these days. While I’m sometimes a fan of Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman, particular this second chapter, the hoopla around the movie has exceeded its quality; at least in my opinion. That debate/discussion is for another time, right now I’d like to discuss my favorite shot from the film.
It’s by no means an original sentiment, yet is nevertheless true; Wally Pfister’s cinematography in The Dark Knight is pretty exceptional. The high-point comes in the back half of the film after Heath Ledger’s psychotic Joker escapes his jail-cell. For a few moments, it would seem that the anarchy the character sparked has subsided. That feeling is all too brief as buildings crumble, lives are lost and the villain is once more on the loose.
Amongst the anguish, fire and screams, Nolan and Pfister give us Ledger’s madman serenely hanging out of the back of a police car flying down the city streets. It’s all a shiny blur, except for the Joker. He doesn’t smile over a plan brought to fruition. He isn’t laughing about the bloodshed. Instead we get Ledger, smeared in the cake of red and white makeup, taking it all in like a cool summer breeze. This left-turn of a move connects all the more due to the decision to have this motor-mouthed monster seem at peace for the first time in the film. As “the world burns,” we’re presented an image that, a few trappings aside, would seem more likely to be found in a teenage drama about hazy summer days. It’s a brilliant decision.