I suppose it is my turn to add to the minutia of writings about The Dark Knight.
I will offer no movie review here, although I do think it was a great film. There are some things in the movie that would have offered a bit more balance, but the film itself banks on the assumption that you know these characters very well. So it doesn’t offer you much in the way of character development. We are not given any new information about Bruce Wayne, and the movie only offered lies about the Joker’s true origin. I will concede, though, that the Batman undergoes some serious reflection. The movie may need the Joker, but the morality in constant question was done so by the Batman. But I’ll not discuss that here.
Because what fascinated me the most was the constant vibe of truth spoken by the Joker. It seems, to me, that in most great films, the villains always offer the surest voices of truth. Truth is the one weakness with which we are all familiar, because truth is scary — even scarier than a crazy man in smeared makeup. We mask truth with our interests. But truth … truth is pure and unashamed, and it is always the subject of exploitation by the bad guys.
The Joker had no scruples. He had no remorse. He was violent and crazy, but never, not once, foolish. Consider the scene with the mountain of money which he burned, and then made the statement, almost in an impatient tone, that “it’s not about the money … it’s about sending a message.” And that was true, in his world. With the bank robbery at the beginning of the movie, you understand that the Joker could steal any amount of money he wanted. You can do things like that when you don’t mind all the killing.
But the most powerful scene, of any one character in this movie, comes with Harvey Dent in a hospital bed, and half of his face burned and gone. The Joker is there, posing as a nurse, as someone who cares for the sick, and offers Dent the medicine he wants. Truth.
As the “white knight” of Gotham, unstained and virtuous, Dent watched all of his ideals wither with death and mayhem, and in that lone hospital bed, with half of his face the testament of what he believed to be his failures, he listened to the Joker. And the Joker told him truth.
He told Dent that the plans people made, any and all plans, were futile. That plans always fail. And when plans do fail, people are sent into chaos, because people invested so much into their plans.
Obviously, how these characters react to this one truth is evident, and the greater point of the film. The Batman wants to remove his cowl, and those are his plans, but those plans fail when Dent, and Gotham, are sent into chaos. Dent plans to change the city, but can’t, when he becomes victim to its very crime. Rachel wants to be with the one she loves, and her plan is to leave one for the other, but can’t because of the unexpected choices made by those two men. And the Joker wants to send the city into oblivion, but can’t because of the salvation and hope offered by the very citizens of Gotham.
Hence, the plot proves the point that the only real truth in life is the reality of failed plans.
Maybe the Joker had no scruples. But he did have truth.