Monday, July 23, 2012

"Get a Life, Cat!" on "The Dark Knight Rises"

Just what the world needs: someone else writing about the new Batman movie. Even before violence in the real world merged with the fantasy world, an amazing amount of media coverage went to the film that completed the acclaimed and money making trilogy. ****** So instead of the Batman, I’d like to write about Catwoman. (Okay, I’ll say this about “The Dark Knight Rises”; rarely does the third film of a trilogy that begins with two classics match its predecessors – I’m looking at you, “Return of the Jedi” and “Godfather III” -- but this film does.) ****** In previous incarnations of the Catwoman character, the focus was often on the wives’ tale of a cat’s nine lives. In the campy 1960’s TV series “Batman”, it was a running gag that every time Catwoman “died”, she would come back again – often played by another actress. Julie Newmar, Lee Meriweather and Eartha Kitt all took the role, a droll in-joke that suggested a completely new life for the character. (Part of the joke was that Batman never noticed the complete change in his nemesis’ appearance.) ***** In the 1994 film, “Batman Returns”, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Selina Kyle, an office worker who falls from tall building, suffers a psychotic breakdown and becomes Catwoman. In 2004’s “Catwoman”, Halle Berry begins with another name for her alter ego, Patience Phillips, a graphic designer, but a brush with death (drowning) leads her to a new life as Catwoman. ***** In the new Christopher Nolan film, Anne Hathaway again has the identity used in the DC Comics, Selina Kyle. She also has the occupation Catwoman was known for in the comics, thief. She has a long criminal record and the law is closing in on her. ***** Selina wants one thing more than anything else, something that came easily to all the previous incarnations of Catwoman but not to her: a new life. All her criminal endeavors center on finding the Holy Grail of the Gotham criminal class, “the Clean Slate.” “The Clean Slate” is a computer program that can allegedly wipe out all computer records for a person through out the world. ***** Selina explains to Bruce Wayne why she needs this program. Even if she should leave Gotham to build a new life, “any twelve year old with a cell phone” could find her out. All she wants is a new start. And ironically, she seems willing to commit the most vile of acts to be seen as innocent. ***** She isn’t the only one in the film that wants a fresh start. The film’s chief villain, Bane, wants to destroy the city of Gotham so there can be a fresh start. It all recalls that sad quotation from the Mai Lai massacre of the Vietnam war, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” ***** What Selina Kyle wants is what we all want at some time, a fresh start, a new life. And some of us have been willing to lie, cheat and steal, if necessary, to get it. But we can never achieve such a thing on our own. ***** Fortunately, such a new life is achievable, but only through the grace of God. Psalm 51:7 tells us that God can wash us “whiter than snow.” I Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone who is in Christ, “is a new creature; the old has passed away and the new is come.” In I Peter 1:23, we are told we have been “born again, not as perishable, but imperishable.” ***** Selina Kyle’s search for a new life was for me a highlight of The Dark Knight Rises, especially as a reminder of the new life God has promised us. ***** The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13 for violence, language and intense situations.

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