Jim Emerson, a film critic for Indiewire, has debuted a new regular video feature at their Press Play blog called In the Cut where he deconstructs cinematic action sequences to examine their flaws and virtues. For his debut episode Emerson has chosen to take an in-depth look at a crucial scene from the 2008 Bat-blockbuster The Dark Knight. You can check out the 20-minute video here below.
Emerson narrates the video, which presents the major second-act action sequence from the Christopher Nolan-directed film, but broken down, carefully analyzed, and illustrated with relevant quotes from creative personnel involved with the film and from other experienced sources.
In the scene, Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) has just outed himself to the media and the authorities as the man behind the cape and cowl of Batman in order to protect the real Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) from revealing his true identity as he originally intended to under threat of further violence from the Joker (Heath Ledger). Dent is taken into police custody, loaded into a S.W.A.T. team van, and is to be escorted by a convoy of heavily-armed cops to the safety of police headquarters. Midway to their destination the convoy is attacked by the Joker and his thugs and it’s up to the real Batman, riding to the rescue in his trusty all-terrain vehicle the Tumbler, to save Dent and bring the clown prince of crime to justice.
This video is bound to inspire criticism itself as The Dark Knight is held in the highest of regards by its many fans, myself included, but credit must go to Emerson for taking an intelligent and respectful approach to his own critique of the film’s seminal action scene. It reminds me of the shot-by-shot film analyses that Roger Ebert once did, and still might do but I’m not too sure.
Emerson has an astute knowledge of the language of filmmaking and the painstaking detail he put into this video is very well done. Even if The Dark Knight is your favorite movie (or one of your favorites at least) you would have to admit Emerson makes many pointed observations about the sequence. The best film criticism doesn’t have to alter your opinion about a particular movie, but get you to thinking about it or noticing certain things that you hadn’t before. In any case, well done, Mr. Emerson.