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The Legend of King Arthur: Separating Fact from Fiction

The story of King Arthur has captivated audiences for centuries. From the sword in the stone to the Knights of the Round Table, it’s a tale that has been retold countless times in books, movies, and even television shows. But how much of it is true? In this article, we’ll dive into the history behind the legend and separate fact from fiction.

The Historical King Arthur

While there is no concrete evidence to prove that King Arthur actually existed, there are a few historical figures that may have inspired his character. One such figure is Ambrosius Aurelianus, a Romano-British war leader who fought against invading Saxon armies in the late 5th century. Another potential inspiration is Artorius Castus, a Roman military commander who led troops in Britain during the 2nd century.

However, it’s important to note that these figures are not definitively linked to the King Arthur legend. The earliest known written reference to King Arthur comes from a Welsh poem called “Y Gododdin,” which was written around 600 AD. The poem mentions a warrior named Arthur who fought alongside other warriors at the Battle of Catraeth.

The Legend of Excalibur

One of the most iconic elements of the King Arthur story is his sword, Excalibur. According to legend, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake after he proved himself worthy by pulling it from a stone. However, this version of events does not appear in any early written versions of the story.

In fact, some historians believe that Excalibur may have been inspired by another legendary sword: Caladbolg. Caladbolg was said to be wielded by Irish hero Fergus mac Róich and was rumored to be so powerful that it could cut through solid rock.

Knights of the Round Table

The Knights of the Round Table are another iconic element of the King Arthur legend. According to the story, Arthur gathered his most trusted knights around a round table to symbolize equality and fairness. While there is no historical evidence to support the existence of the Knights of the Round Table, it’s possible that they were inspired by real medieval knights.

In medieval times, knights were expected to follow a strict code of chivalry that emphasized honor, bravery, and loyalty. These ideals are reflected in many versions of the King Arthur story and may have contributed to the creation of the Knights of the Round Table.

The Legacy of King Arthur

Despite the lack of concrete evidence surrounding King Arthur’s existence, his legend continues to inspire people today. From literature and art to movies and television shows, his story has been retold countless times in countless ways.

Perhaps one reason for this enduring popularity is that at its core, the King Arthur story is about leadership, heroism, and sacrifice. Whether he was a real person or not, his legacy lives on as a symbol of these timeless virtues.

While much of the King Arthur legend may be based on fiction rather than fact, there is no denying its enduring appeal. From Excalibur to the Knights of the Round Table, this tale has captured imaginations for centuries. Whether you believe in his existence or not, there’s no denying that King Arthur remains one of history’s most fascinating figures.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


the dark knight film review essay

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“ Batman ” isn’t a comic book anymore. Christopher Nolan ’s “The Dark Knight” is a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy. It creates characters we come to care about. That’s because of the performances, because of the direction, because of the writing, and because of the superlative technical quality of the entire production. This film, and to a lesser degree “ Iron Man ,” redefine the possibilities of the “comic-book movie.”

“The Dark Knight” is not a simplistic tale of good and evil. Batman is good, yes, The Joker is evil, yes. But Batman poses a more complex puzzle than usual: The citizens of Gotham City are in an uproar, calling him a vigilante and blaming him for the deaths of policemen and others. And the Joker is more than a villain. He’s a Mephistopheles whose actions are fiendishly designed to pose moral dilemmas for his enemies.

The key performance in the movie is by the late Heath Ledger , as the Joker. Will he become the first posthumous Oscar winner since Peter Finch ? His Joker draws power from the actual inspiration of the character in the silent classic “ The Man Who Laughs ” (1928). His clown's makeup more sloppy than before, his cackle betraying deep wounds, he seeks revenge, he claims, for the horrible punishment his father exacted on him when he was a child. In one diabolical scheme near the end of the film, he invites two ferry-loads of passengers to blow up the other before they are blown up themselves. Throughout the film, he devises ingenious situations that force Batman ( Christian Bale ), Commissioner Gordon ( Gary Oldman ) and District Attorney Harvey Dent ( Aaron Eckhart ) to make impossible ethical decisions. By the end, the whole moral foundation of the Batman legend is threatened.

Because these actors and others are so powerful, and because the movie does not allow its spectacular special effects to upstage the humans, we’re surprised how deeply the drama affects us. Eckhart does an especially good job as Harvey Dent, whose character is transformed by a horrible fate into a bitter monster. It is customary in a comic book movie to maintain a certain knowing distance from the action, to view everything through a sophisticated screen. “The Dark Knight” slips around those defenses and engages us.

Yes, the special effects are extraordinary. They focus on the expected explosions and catastrophes, and have some superb, elaborate chase scenes. The movie was shot on location in Chicago, but it avoids such familiar landmarks as Marina City, the Wrigley Building or the skyline. Chicagoans will recognize many places, notably La Salle Street and Lower Wacker Drive, but director Nolan is not making a travelogue. He presents the city as a wilderness of skyscrapers, and a key sequence is set in the still-uncompleted Trump Tower. Through these heights, the Batman moves at the end of strong wires, or sometimes actually flies, using his cape as a parasail.

The plot involves nothing more or less than the Joker’s attempts to humiliate the forces for good and expose Batman’ secret identity, showing him to be a poser and a fraud. He includes Gordon and Dent on his target list, and contrives cruel tricks to play with the fact that Bruce Wayne once loved, and Harvey Dent now loves, Assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes ( Maggie Gyllenhaal ). The tricks are more cruel than he realizes, because the Joker doesn’t know Batman’s identity. Heath Ledger has a good deal of dialogue in the movie, and a lot of it isn’t the usual jabs and jests we’re familiar with: It’s psychologically more complex, outlining the dilemmas he has constructed, and explaining his reasons for them. The screenplay by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan (who first worked together on “ Memento ”) has more depth and poetry than we might have expected.

Two of the supporting characters are crucial to the action, and are played effortlessly by the great actors Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine . Freeman, as the scientific genius Lucius Fox, is in charge of Bruce Wayne’s underground headquarters, and makes an ethical objection to a method of eavesdropping on all of the citizens of Gotham City. His stand has current political implicstions. Caine is the faithful butler Alfred, who understands Wayne better than anybody, and makes a decision about a crucial letter.

Nolan also directed the previous, and excellent, “ Batman Begins ” (2005), which went into greater detail than ever before about Bruce Wayne’s origins and the reasons for his compulsions. Now it is the Joker’s turn, although his past is handled entirely with dialogue, not flashbacks. There are no references to Batman’s childhood, but we certainly remember it, and we realize that this conflict is between two adults who were twisted by childhood cruelty — one compensating by trying to do good, the other by trying to do evil. Perhaps they instinctively understand that themselves.

Something fundamental seems to be happening in the upper realms of the comic-book movie. “Spider-Man II” (2004) may have defined the high point of the traditional film based on comic-book heroes. A movie like the new “Hellboy II” allows its director free rein for his fantastical visions. But now “Iron Man” and even more so “The Dark Knight” move the genre into deeper waters. They realize, as some comic-book readers instinctively do, that these stories touch on deep fears, traumas, fantasies and hopes. And the Batman legend, with its origins in film noir, is the most fruitful one for exploration.

In his two Batman movies, Nolan has freed the character to be a canvas for a broader scope of human emotion. For Bruce Wayne is a deeply troubled man, let there be no doubt, and if ever in exile from his heroic role, it would not surprise me what he finds himself capable of doing.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film Credits

The Dark Knight movie poster

The Dark Knight (2008)

Rated PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and some menace

152 minutes

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent

Michael Caine as Alfred

Gary Oldman as Gordon

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox

Directed by

  • Christopher Nolan
  • Jonathan Nolan

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Home / Essay Samples / Entertainment / Movies / Batman

The Analysis of Christopher Nolan’s Film "The Dark Knight"

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Entertainment , Literature , Philosophy

Movies , Philosophical Concept

Batman , Character , Personal Identity

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The Analysis Of Christopher Nolan’s Film “The Dark Knight”

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Table of Contents

Introduction, the theme of identity in the dark knight, the dark knight: evil vs good.

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The Dark Knight in 2008, Movie Review Example

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A man who fell into a vat of chemicals and became an evil clown…what a campy idea.  Prior to viewing The Dark Knight in 2008, I had never been able to take the character of the Joker seriously.  How could I?  Sure, he was crazy, but that was essentially all there was too his character: crazy.  In the comics, cartoons, and films he would often laugh maniacally while he fired a gun that shot out a flag that said “ BANG. ”   He would also kill his victims with laughing gas.  Pardon the pun, but what a joke, and not a very funny one either.  This is why I was so pleasantly shocked with Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.  His version of the this villain was anything but a joke.  In fact, Ledger took the part so seriously that in order to truly understand the psychopathic nature of the character, he kept a diary in which he would write down his most gruesome and disturbing thoughts. (Look)  Psychology suggests that playing the part helps one believe they are the part, which is a reason hypnotism exists.

In the Dark Knight, Christian Bale stars as Bruce Wayne, whose war on crime continues as he battles Gotham City’s assortment of evil each night.  His alter ego, Batman has become notorious and feared by all who prey on the fearful.  In desperation, the mafia looks for help from someone even more terrifying than the Batman: The Joker.  This self-styled clown promises the mafia that he can kill the Batman and bring Gotham’s organized crime back into power for a price.  However, what the mafia fails to understand is that the Joker does not care about money or power.  Instead, he is a sadistic killer who simply wishes to cause as much chaos and destruction as possible.   Many psychologists and philosophers have even referred to the Joker as a true nihilist. (Judy)  Throughout the film, Batman and the Joker are at odds in a battle of wits and a game of attempting to understand each other’s motives. At the end of the film, Batman apprehends the Joker, but the insane agent of chaos tells the capped crusader that he has lost.  The Joker insists that Gotham along with people in general are selfish animals at the core that can easily be manipulated and molded into villains.

This notion is what makes the psychology of the Dark Knight so interesting as opposed to just the Joker’s Insanity.  The Joker constantly talks about people t rying and failing to be civilized and good.  He claims that the people of Gotham are only as good as society allows them to be and think of themselves as much better people than they actually are .  Social psychology refers to this as illusory superiority, and although the Joker never actually mentions it by name, he describes it perfectly and tries to exemplify it multiple times in the film .   On one occasion, he threatens to blow up a hospital if a man name Colman Reese is not killed.  The people of Gotham who have friends and family in hospitals panic and charge the studio where Reese is at, trying to kill him.  Fortunately, Bruce Wayne saves Reese before anyone can murder him, but this still shows that the masses would have commit murder if the could have.  The only thing they needed was a reason to do it.  This raises the issue of human morality and is similar to the trolley problem, which asks if one would directly destroy a life to save many others. (How)

At the finale of the film, the joker conducts something that he even refers to as a “ social experiment. ”   He has two groups of people on two ferries: The citizens and the prisoners of Gotham.  He says that he will blow up both boats unless one boat elects to blow the other one up.    The film shows both groups in their boats struggling with the morality of the situation, and their desire to survive.  Once again, Batman interferes before anything can happen, but this situation truly made me think about social psychology and if the drive to survive is higher than the drive to be good to others.  Thomas Hobbs, a philosopher in the seventeenth century hypothesized that without order and rules, society would be an animalistic hell-hole. (Nowicke)  This is spot on with the idea that the Joker was trying to exemplify.

Despite all of his insane idiosyncrasies, the Joker was a mastermind when it came to driving others to insanity.  He was able to drive Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to the point of madness by killing his girlfriend, and almost brought batman to the point of breaking his own no killing rule.   It seems however that despite all this cynicism, Christopher Nolan (the film ’ s director) takes the humanistic perspective of psychology.  The reason for this is that in the end the Joker loses, and is proven wrong about Gotham ’ s people.  Unrealistic?  Maybe, but films do not have to be realistic when dealing with human nature.  After all, would anyone actually dress up like a bat and fight crime?  Probably not, but the ideals behind being a caped crusader are ones that we as people stand behind.

Works Cited

“How the Trolley Problem Works – HowStuffWorks.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

Judy, Logan. “Comics Philosophy 101: The Joker & Nihilism.” A Clear Lens. N.p., 05 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

“Look Inside Heath Ledger’s Joker Diary From The Dark Knight.” – Cinemablend. N.p., 03 June 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

Nowicke, Anthony. “Everything Burns: The Psychology & Philosophy of the Joker.” Pop Mythology. N.p., 03 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

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Special Review: “The Dark Knight” – An Essay on Ethics and Excellence

Directed by: christopher nolan, produced by: christopher nolan, emma thomas, charles roven, written by: jonathan nolan, christopher nolan (screenplay), christopher nolan, david s. goyer (story), cinematography by: wally pfister, music by: hans zimmer, james newton howard, starring: christian bale, heath ledger, michael caine, gary oldman, aaron eckhart, maggie gyllenhaal, morgan freeman, eric roberts, ng chin han, nestor carbonell.

Can a film based on a comic book superhero really be considered a “masterpiece”? Even up until and including the amazing  Batman Begins , this was a hard question to answer. While certainly a great feat of audience-pleasing entertainment and thoughtful craftwork merging together,  Batman Begins was certainly more like a skilled adaptation of a popular character’s story than it was a profound examination of humanity. While this doesn’t inherently disqualify it, the film’s appeal and impact is limited somewhat as a result. The film was largely a study on how one man is driven to the point of becoming a masked vigilante, striving to become a symbol of hope and justice in a city infested with criminals and the morally bankrupt. Yes,  Begins had scatterings of a universal message regarding the redemptive ability of humanity, but overall, it really was mostly Bruce Wayne’s story — and that’s really all it had to be.

the dark knight film review essay

With the introductions out of the way, however, the sequel takes the opportunity to take this hero and pit him against one of the greatest challenges he will ever face, one that threatens not only his purpose and his morals, but also puts the lives of those who supported him on this journey in danger. The resulting film,  The Dark Knight , is a film that is philosophically deeper than not only its predecessor, but pretty much any comic book film, even to this day, four years later. (Of course, by the time I publish this review,  The Dark Knight Rises will have been released, and I may have changed my tune, but for now, this statement is true to what I currently believe.) As a result, The Dark Knight  ultimately proves to be far more universal in its application to society, and indeed shows that even a summer blockbuster based on a comic book can be a masterpiece.

Taking place an undisclosed period of time after the first film, though it must have been quite some time after since Wayne Enterprises is now in a new, black building. While it’s nowhere near ideal conditions, we get to see that Batman’s presence has, in fact, had a positive effect, as criminals loose on the streets flee at the sight of Batman’s signal in the sky. However, as Jim Gordon predicted, his presence is also having undesirable consequences. Like a bacterial infection, with the weaker criminals disappearing, stronger ones  are taking their place. Not only that, Batman’s hopes to inspire the citizens of Gotham to rise up has backfired, with groups copycat vigilantes using his image are taking to the streets and taking on more than they can handle.

the dark knight film review essay

Having believed that one day Gotham would be able to redeem itself, Bruce’s hopes of one day being able to hang up the mantle of Batman and settle in to a normal life with his childhood friend, Rachel Dawes, are beginning to wear thin, with every passing day proving to him that his mission is far from over. There is a glimmer of hope, however, in the new Gotham District Attorney, Harvey Dent, who has been the only man able to stand up against crime as bravely and effectively as Batman could, only he’s able to do this without wandering into the darker shades of grey, and he’s even been called Gotham’s White Knight, standing up face-to-face with criminals, no masks or makeup needed. Being more than capable of taking Batman’s place in Gotham, Harvey even becomes a symbol of hope for Bruce, as well. The only thing Bruce has against him is that Harvey is dating Rachel, and she no longer seems content to wait for Batman’s retirement when Harvey already possesses all the best qualities of both Bruce and his alter ego.

Of course,  The Dark Knight wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as it is if it were solely a love story, and what kind of Batman movie would it be without a pivotal villain or two? As suggested by the end of  Batman Begins , here we are treated to a whole new interpretation of Batman’s arch nemesis and most iconic rogue, the Joker, played, of course, by the late Heath Ledger. Ledger was only the second actor to win a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of Joker, previously portrayed on film (amazingly, I might add) by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 film , after Peter Finch in  Network , and the first actor to win an Oscar for a film based on a comic book property, officially signalling to critics that comic book movies weren’t just making money, but were also becoming spectacular works of art.

the dark knight film review essay

The Joker of  The Dark Knight is unlike any interpretation before it. He has no true gimmicks to play up the clown theme beyond a smattering of messy makeup, a crudely restitched Glasgow smile, and a dark wit that’s more menacing and disturbed than it is amusing. However, at the same time, you could hardly call him insane. That would suggest that there’s very little rationality or reason behind his actions. Men who like to think of themselves as “good men” tend to believe that only insane individuals could commit such horrors as the Joker does, but, as Alfred poignantly points out to Bruce, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” The Joker portrayed here uses chaos and destruction as his tools, but he uses them to spread a rather sobering philosophy: When given the chance, even the best of us can be driven to do terrible things.

The philosophical themes of The Dark Knight are never clearly defined in terms of black and white, never quite making the distinctions between good vs. evil quite so easy to define. Batman may be fighting crime, but his methods are outside the law and fall into ethically questionable territory, as he is seen extraditing a suspected criminal from Hong Kong and even taps citizens’ phones in the name of public safety. (This has, of course, caused many to see parallels between the film and the American government post-9/11, and rightfully so.) The Joker, meanwhile, may be working with criminals and is labelled a terrorist, but his perception of man’s inherent corruptibility is supported by the fact that Gotham, the very society that has embraced a vigilante who operates outside their laws, was largely responsible for allowing itself to fall into a state that necessitated his presence in the first place.

the dark knight film review essay

With that in mind, Harvey Dent’s image as the “White Knight” of Gotham becomes a lot more questionable. Sure enough, his outward goodness gradually gives way to what society would call madness as the world around him begins to crumble. For the Joker, that’s really the point of it all. Men like Harvey Dent may fight for what is right for a time, but only “Until their spirit breaks completely. Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent.” To him, morality and society’s laws only perpetuate the false ideal that man is able to be truly good. “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness,” he accuses Batman, “and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.” What he does to Gotham, to Harvey, and to Bruce throughout the film demonstrates his belief that this struggle against corruption is a futile one, a battle that only the truly insane will continue fight — “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

The final climax of the film is not the typical fight between hero and villain, but rather between Batman and Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent, three men who formed an unstable alliance against the mob and the Joker, each of whom had broken their own personal morals and society’s laws in the name of the greater good only to be left struggling with the ethical, personal, and, in the case of Harvey, the physical consequences of their actions. Though Batman and Gordon still mostly believe that they acted for greater good and believe that Harvey can come back from his corruption, for Harvey, his face half mangled and his plans for the future stolen from him, this is no longer about what is right, but rather what is fair. In working with Batman and Gordon (and, in essence, society), he believes that fate has left him with nothing despite his efforts to do what was right. His now twisted rationality leads him to believe that chance is the only thing that determines what is truly right, and with a flip of a coin, any action can be justified.

the dark knight film review essay

It would be an oversimplification to say that the message of  The Dark Knight is that morality is rarely easy to define, but it is a perfectly succinct way to shorten the surprisingly complex and ambiguous message put forth in this comic book movie. Of course, this being me — and I am admittedly a fairly wordy writer, so I apologize if you are dozing off by this point, but please allow me to further elaborate — I do want to expand on this just a bit more before bringing this review to a close, and I do appreciate your patience, as I cannot help myself! (I obviously love this film a lot, so you can probably guess the score, go check to confirm, and come back to this point if you wish to continue.)

In the end, Batman finds his own redemption comes at the cost of his reputation. So important to Gotham’s safety was Harvey’s image as their White Knight, he decides to take on the blame for everything that Harvey did after the Joker pushed him over the proverbial edge, working with Gordon to cover up Harvey’s tragic fall from grace and the circumstances of his death and turn the former savior into a martyr. For Batman, a hero who works outside law and order to return society to safety, what is one more lie if it’s for the greater good? In the end, he may look like the villain, but in truth, he believes that he will be the hero that Gotham needs him to be, working in shadow as their Dark Knight.

the dark knight film review essay

The film pulls no punches in remaining ambiguous in its own moral philosophies, if there are any to be truly had. As with the Joker’s actions toward Gotham, the film acts as a test for audiences. It reveals not only the intricacies of these characters interactions with each other, but what they mean to us. That, to me, basically seems to be the ultimate goal for most great works of art.

In the four years since this film’s release, we’ve seen the mainstream acceptance of comic book films and other forms of “low” art become recognized for their academic worth. I can say with certainty that  The Dark Knight was a great influence on that movement — the Academy’s recognition of Heath Ledger and snubbing of the film for a Best Picture nomination are the perfect simultaneous examples of this transitional period of time. (Audience reaction resulted in the Academy expanding the film nominations to ten the following year, resulting in nominations for two sci-fi films, one animated film, a comedy, and a film based in alternate history. They didn’t win, but it was a start!) The film has its flaws, absolutely — the script sometimes finds itself putting rather unnatural pontifical words into characters’ mouths, and we never do see what happens with the Joker during that dinner party — but, as with its basis in comic books, this shouldn’t exempt this otherwise sensationally crafted, wonderfully acted, action-packed film from being recognized as a masterpiece. Bring on the inevitably pale-by-comparison (but undoubtedly excellent) third film!

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 5 / 5

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Easily the most overrated film ever made.

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