Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week The Dark Knight. You’re welcome.
I’ll never forget the day Chris Nolan came into my office and said to me ‘Exec!’ he was informal like that ‘Exec! I’ve got an idea for a movie: the Dark Knight’. Of course, I thought it was going to be a historical epic. King Arthur perhaps. Or Ivanhoe. Still the kid was hot and floppy blond hair and an adorable British accent so I said okay and validated his parking. It wasn’t until a year later that I saw the finished product. The Dark Knight made no sense. ‘Where’s Batman’s origin story?’ I asked. ‘There’s a gaping hole where his parent’s funeral should be.’ ‘But we covered that in Batman Begins,’ Chris countered but I cut him off. ‘I want facts, not excuses.’ The film was dark and exciting. The action sequences were terrific and the pace kept on going. Even without the funeral, there was a chance we might make it.
However, audiences rejected it wholesale and it sank without a trace. With all the postmortems, it became clear that there was one major component that simply hadn’t worked. The villain of the piece was called the Joker, played by a young Australian actor Heath Ledger, but he was hopeless. I don’t want to sat it was his fault – the script gave him nothing – but the fact was he was not funny. A joker who doesn’t tell jokes? I mean screenwriting 101 guys. Maybe it also lagged a bit at the end and the part when Batman lies to protect Harvey Dent’s reputation made zero sense.
The film tanked and unfortunately so did Ledger’s career. At least, I haven’t seen him in anything recently. Nolan went back to England with his tail between his legs and is now directing the odd episode of Coronation Street – a soap opera set in Manchester, UK. If you can find a copy of the Dark Knight it still holds an odd ball charm and will make you wonder what the same material would have been like in the hands of someone a little more competent. A Zack Snyder perhaps.