Batman Begins

Recommended. Best of ‘em all. A more realistic Batman. And Deeper Batman, one that probes the psyche of Bruce Wayne to explain his origin. I appreciated this one for the themes it dealt with: Vengeance vs. justice (much richer than Batman Forever), Overcoming fear, and how our fears make us who we are. The one thing I didn’t care for, but tolerated is the cliché turning to the East for wisdom. This is very fashionable now in the West, when looking for spiritual wisdom, movies always have to look to Native American pagan crap or Eastern monist crap. Oh well, it wasn’t overwhelming. Some great lines in this movie: Liam Neeson’s mentor character tells Wayne, who is trying to deal with his guilt over his parent’s death as well as his hatred for criminals, “Vigilante is a man who is absorbed in his own self gratification. But if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something more than a man.” Wow, what wisdom. It’s true. People do not realize that transcendence is what they need, to be a part of something bigger than themselves. With all these humanistic epics out there like War of the Worlds, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, that destroy transcendence and wonder why their stories fall flat and have no real heart connection. It’s because they spurn transcendent beliefs, they deny there is anything bigger than ourselves or beyond this life. Well, Batman gets it right. Another great moment that reveals the true tragedy of our culture that coddles criminals and seeks to “understand” terrorists: “Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding.” Christopher Nolan, who wrote this thing is really thoughtful and great with words. Man, how did that Shakespearean intelligence get past the Executives? Another one: “To conquer fear, you must become your fear.” And thus Batman becomes the very bat he was phobic about because of a past experience. There is a bit of Existentialism in there as Batman responds to his love interest, “It’s not what I am underneath, but it’s what I do that defines me.” Okay, “we are what we do” is existentialism and it is really quite destructive to deny the inner man and the power of who we are inside that ALSO defines us. Because existentialism denies Logos or an underlying meaning to the universe, it concludes that we are thrust into existence and therefore have no inherent meaning, just what we do, that creates us. I have written about the fallacy of this worldview in my book Hollywood Worldviews. It stinks and is disenguine. But no movie is perfect, so it didn’t ruin it for me. And the whole dark approach to the movie is not a gratuitous artsy fartsy imbibing in darkness for the sake of being “edgy” and nihilistic, but rather a realistic attempt to deal with depravity, along with a desire to find hope and justice in the midst of it. Batman is told by his mentor, “Your compassion is your weakness your enemies do not share,” because Batman doesn’t kill everyone he fights, and he is not a vigilante like the vigilante force of Ra’s Al Ghul. But he replies, “No. It’s what makes us different from them.” And this really is the essence of moral fighting of evil. If we become like the evil we fight, then we have failed and will result in the furtherance of evil. We must be more “human” and do what is right even though it may not result in the best result for us, or we simply further evil. Quite refined and reflective for a movie, huh? And a comic book movie at that. I mean it was really quite a thorough investigation of revenge that rang true and captured the feelings and struggles a person would go through over evil done unto their loved ones. This is no mere comic book movie, this was an authentic study of justice and vengeance, good and evil. Nolan, who did Memento and Insomnia is one of my favorite filmmakers.