Christopher Nolan seems to lend a political dimension to the American comic book hero, with his mythical aspect, Batman in the latest film version, 'The Dark Night Arises' with Christian Bale portraying the Batman and the very attractive and vibrant Anne Hathaway as the cat-woman. The city of Gotham this time round is tyrannised by a group that controls the city and is engaged in realpolitik. The people are kept in thrall and the city police is helpless. Yes. There is a familiar ring to it. At one level, the political tale unfolds in an undemocratic fashion. To confront the brute tyrant you need the super-hero. The American, democratic version of the super-hero is that he is a common man with no grand ambitions of his own and who is only too keen to lead an ordinary American's life. That is why, the Batman in this movie prefers a posthumous adoration of the city so that he does not have to bear the burden of hero-hood in the community. The city and the people worship the super-hero as the great emancipator but the hero remains beyond the intoxicating effects of hero-worship. The bad guys in other super hero movies, including that of James Bond, is that of diabolical intent but it is mostly in the private sphere, at times casting a dark shadow on politics. In this film, the bad guys reduce Gotham to an oppressed society, and the villain taunts the people by saying that he has saved them from the "enemy" and then proceeds to take over the reins of the city with total control of the boardroom as well. It is this detail of the villainy that makes it a little too close to life, and casts a dark shadow on what should have been a simple tale of a super hero.
The subversive, underground group takes on the mythical aspect of Satan and his rebel angels and there are for ever condemned to be in the dark nether lands. The dialogue assumes religious and mythical overtones when the arch-fiend in the movie says that the punishment for his enemies is not death and darkness but the hope of light, which is the great torture. He sounds like Milton's Satan when he says that he has born in darkness and there was never any light.
When the Batman is confined to the dark cave, one of his fellow-prisoners who is blind speaks Hebrew and the Batman asks what is the word for freedom in Hebrew, the Biblical overtone is clear. It was also there in the Matrix series. There the underdogs are in the dark cellars or catacombs. As it should be in the case of a comic book legend, the ending is both happy and light.
There is a distinguished star cast including Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, especially Caine, who felt that his working class background made his language suspect, delivers a superb dramatic performance with his characteristic British dialogue delivery. As a matter of fact, the film has got a distinct English touch in the flavour and tone of its delivery of dialogue.
Anne Hathaway manages to draw sufficient attention with her powerful and impressive screen presence. It would seem that she is all set to take over from Angelina Jolie as the action heroine, Her eyes are deep and expressive and her voice has that touch of sultriness. Both the producers and director Nolan must have been aware of the intensely seductive appeal of Hathaway as an actress.