In the glory days of Westerns-the 1950s-it was not uncommon for people to be shot left and right and never miss a step. TV Shows like The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Have Gun-Will Travel and many others had the heroes murder someone every week and nearly get killed themselves. They never had to worry about Post Traumatic Stress or have any bad feeling about what they were doing. People were shot, but they never bleed or moaned in pain, they just fell over and we never saw them again.
Then there was the MPAA Ratings System and the floodgates were opened for every violent, disgusting, revolting and nasty thing that anyone had ever wanted to put in a movie. Directors who had never even thought of cannibalism now found it among items on the menu for an R Rated Movie-cool! Blood splatter, gore, decapitation, all there to be added to a film to spice it up a bit.
The Dirty Dozen and Bonnie & Clyde and Butch & Sundance all featured violence and blood splashing gore the likes of which had never been seen before. The Exorcist was so disturbing to viewers of the time that barf bags were handed out with the popcorn. This was a brave new world of cinema.
Sweeney Todd is one of the modern results of the MPAA-a musical with graphic and realistic murder in full color and surround sound. I know, it was the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, so I knew not to expect Mary Poppins. But throats cut in full camera view and bodies dumped onto floods with nerve jarring realism was a bit over the top. If The Dark Knight had followed suit and used the same kind of realism-they would have needed to hand out barf bags for The Dark Knight as well.
The Dark Knight is an old style Western sort of movie-people are murdered in every scene of this film, but no one bleeds, no one moans in pain, no one has gory body parts splatted on the floor and walls. One of the ‘funny‘ scenes in The Dark Knight has the Joker murder a thug with a pencil-the thug doesn’t make a sound as the pencil is shoved into his brain and no one in the room reacts to the murder at all. There is no blood as the thud falls out of sight behind a table-and the audience laughs.
There is another scene where the Joker is blowing up a hospital and his detonator doesn’t work, he pounds it and shakes it and then the building behind him starts to crumble as it implodes and the Joker does a W.C.Fields surprise shrug and scampers off screen. This too amuses the audience.
The Dark Knight is universally being hailed as a Great Movie-and I liked it when I watched it. But it should not to mentioned in the same breath as Gone With The Wind or The Sound of Music or Citizen Kane. Yes, my own personal Best Movie Ever is The Matrix-which also makes great use of no one bleeding and the bodies conveniently falling from sight. But that was supposed to be a computer generated world that didn’t really exist. If there were people really dying, they were doing it off scene in a tank somewhere.
The Dark Knight is surprisingly emotional, for all the silliness of The Batman costume and the Super Deep Batman Voice. In fact, this would have been a more perfect movie if they could have figured out a way to take the Batman completely out of the story. Harvey Dent was the hero/villain which everyone pinned their hopes on. But everyone knew, or should have known, that Harvey Dent was Two-Face. Kind of like not being too worried that young Darth Vader would die in a Pod race.
David Cox does a good job of pointing out the many flaws with The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight, like Iron Man, was brilliant because it didn’t suck-as just about every other movie made the past few years has. But I agree with VentureBeat, The Dark Knight is not the best movie ever. Not by a long shot. It may make more money than Titanic, but do you really think Titanic was the best movie ever? Really?