Why So Serious?

For looking, listening, and analyzing I chose a scene from Batman The Dark Knight. These are notes from my three different perspectives.

Camera work:

  • Camera pans around to show all the faces
    • Allows the audience to see reactions from the group as the Joker enters
  • Angle is behind the Joker’s shoulder, showing group’s reactions
    • Leaves audience in suspense because we can’t see who has walked in
  • Angle looking up shows Jokers superiority/dominance in this scene
  • Quick cuts allow the audience to see group’s reactions and keep action going
    • At first there is a flurry of action, then the rest of the scene is relatively calm. This juxtaposes the two speeds, and how violent yet calm everyone in this group is.
  • Usually only one or two characters on screen at a time
    • This allows the audience to see each individual character’s emotions more clearly
    • Shows how each person in the group is an individual looking out for himself
  • Up close shots of the Joker as he’s speaking
    • Shows that the Joker is running the show; he is at the head of the table
  • Slow zoom in on group’s faces as they react
    • Adds suspense to the scene, even though movement is slow
  • Closer up when the camera cuts back to the Joker
    • Makes the viewer uneasy because it is so close, and it enhances the intensity of whatever he is saying.
  • Only the Joker and the one man who yells are ever the in the shot alone
    • The Joker is always alone in the shot because no one wants to be associated with him. The man who yells gets his brief solo moment because of his burst of anger that is nowhere else in the slow scene.

Audio Track:

  • Low, creepy laugh
    • Introduces the audience to whoever is walking in, we presume it is the Joker because of the way it sounds.
  • Slow, rising and falling background noises
    • The score doesn’t overpower the dialogue, but it adds suspense with the rise and fall of the tempo and volume of background noises/music.
  • Mostly just dialogue
    • There are no special sounds, this is just a business meeting. The calm tone in everyone’s voices makes this scene even more off-putting, because they are so calm talking about gruesome topics. This also shows the group’s true colors and motivations.
  • The Joker is talking the most by far
    • This continues to help show that the Joker is in charge here, as he dominates the conversation.
  • Some characters raise their voices, but not the Joker
    • This reiterates how the Joker is different and isn’t as hot headed as some of the other bad guys. He uses this to keep control of the conversation and to get what he wants.
    • Collective laughs
      • This enforces the group dynamic and the outsider-ness of the Joker

Audio and Visual:

  • The heads turn toward the sound of the door opening
  • The zoom in on characters’ faces is in response to the Joker’s dialogue
  • When Joker says “blow” he reveals the grenades he has lining his jacket
  • Hearing the score build as the camera zooms in increases suspense

Connections to Ebert’s and Other’s Techniques

When the Joker first walks in he is on the right side in the foreground, which makes him stand out against the group in front of him. This is the first time he dominates the scene, and he doesn’t quit throughout the whole scene. The right and left theories of positive and negative don’t really apply here because there are mostly close up shots. The camera angle does suggest the Joker’s dominance in the beginning, especially when he is still standing up and everyone else is sitting down. The ever increasing presence of the Joker in this scene (from zooming in and dialogue) is echoed in the rest of the movie, where he is also increasingly present.

6 Replies to “Why So Serious?”

  1. I really enjoy how you incorporated Elbert’s methods into each one of your notes. You really went above and beyond with your analyzation! I’m also happy that you did this movie because this was my second option if I didn’t pick The Matrix Revolutions. Did picking an action movie help you focus more in the end?

    1. I think it did help me not get caught up in the scene. I have also seen that movie before and I think having a little background on it is helpful when analyzing different techniques used.

  2. Nice job connecting your analyzations to Ebert’s method discussion. I really enjoyed reading your analyzation on this scene in particular. I have watched The Dark Knight multiple times, but have never taken time to analyze any of the scenes from the movie. I think this gives a certain insight into the movie. Very well done.

  3. This is a few days late (Sunday night commenters, right? lol) but I wanted to say that I really liked how you included what the camera/audio techniques were meant to make the audience feel. I totally forgot that in my analysis. I think with mine I was more “esoteric” as Ebert put it. It’s easy to forget that movies are made for audiences and not just because the director wanted to make something artsy, so mentioning what the camera movements or the audio is meant to do for the AUDIENCE, to help tell THEM the story, was really smart!

    1. Thank you! I almost forgot too but remembered to connect it to the audience because of a previous film studies class I took in high school. We were always taught to name the technique and WHY that technique was being used.

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