Best Picture and the Biggest Disappointment

Spoiler waring, involving The Dark Knight, and Wall-E.

One night in July this year, I was about to see Wall-E with my friend after work. We ended up with The Dark Knight, because I thought 1. The Dark Knight would be as good as Batman Begins for me, which I watched twice in one day in the iMax theater in Shanghai; and 2. Wall-E could only be another movie on my netflix list. I did put Wall-E on the list, and I didn’t see it until several days ago. Now I realize that I made a mistake that night by watching The Dark Knight instead of Wall-E, and neglected the latter until now. Wall-E should be the best film I saw this year, if not ever. And The Dark Knight is the biggest disappointment of the year, if not ever.

Let me talk about the Dark Knight first. I am not saying that the acting is no good. Keith Ledger definitely shines in that movie, along with almost everyone else. What I hate the most is the theme. Surprisingly, compared with an animation about a love struck robot, the theme of the Dark Knight is cheesy, and wrong. First of all, the story is trying to show that the seemingly corrupted and hopeless city still has some hope. How did they show the hopelessness? For example, the citizens required that Batman to reveal himself when they were threatened with something I don’t really recall (it seems to be a typical “superhero” situation, where superheros are hated by the very people they are trying to protect) ; they tried to kill the guy who wanted to reveal the identity of Batman because Joker would blow up hospitals if he does. Fine. How do they show that this city has hope? Well, even inmates refuse to blow up the other ship to save themselves. Wait, there is a gap of logic here. Previously, when Joker made threats about hospitals, swamps of people (who are not personally threatened) tried to kill that one guy. Now, when they are in a situation where it’s either your life or mine, they decide to act selflessly, like saints. Are we still in the same city? The biggest question is: if this city still has hope, like what is portrayed in the movie, then why the hell did Batman want to conceal the situation around Two Face’s death? If people really have hope, they don’t need fairy tales to keep their hope; they can face the ugly reality, which is actually not that ugly: an upright prosecutor would resort to revenge when his love was murdered. There is nothing “un-human” about this; it’s only “un-saint.” Creating a saint doesn’t help anything, because saints are naturally breakaways from the society. People love them, but that is all. It’s a level too high and too unrealistic to achieve. What people really need is solid lessons and facts, and figures with bones and flesh, not some glowing “entity” flowing in the sky. Suppose the city would lose hope when they learn that their beloved prosecutor ended up a villain, then this city should fall; the city would truly have hope if, despite the ugly fact, people can learn the lesson from “Two Face” can still improve, love and forgive. Batman (or the movie Dark Knight) is clearly trying too hard in a wrong direction. In a Chinese idiom, it’s called “drawing a snake and adding legs for it.” Contrary to Batman’s intention, the cover-up might create a false impression that in this city, only saints like that prosecutor can fight evil, while normal people can only stand aside and cross their fingers. The right message should be: there is no saint, there is only a normal human being, and everyone can fight evil.

And naturally, that concludes why I hate The Dark Knight and love Wall-E: the ugly fact is that the earth is still as ugly as a trash can, but hope strives not from fantasy, but from the real, down-to-earth, will to live on.

Oh, I liked the love story in Wall-E. No further comment because I don’t know how to comment it.

As for the debate about whether an animation should or should not get Best Picture or only Best Animation Feature, I don’t see why an animation cannot be called Best Picture, unless the title is “Best Picture with Mostly Human and Real things in it.” Just because in the history of Oscar no animation won the Best Picture, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. And, come on! We have seen some big changes this year, I’m sure we can handle one more.


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