Bat­man (1989)

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS LIFE -

“I’m only laugh­ing on the out­side / My smile is just skin deep / If you could see inside I’m re­ally cry­ing / You might join me for a weep.”

— The Joker (Jack Ni­chol­son) re­cites a poem to Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).

When di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton signed on to rein­tro­duce Bat­man to mo­tion pic­tures, he came in with three ad­van­tages. 1: His own per­sonal predilec­tion for gothic style synced with the big-bud­get in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Caped Cru­sader. 2: He al­ready had fruit­ful re­la­tion­ships with con­tro­ver­sial­ly­cast ac­tor Michael Keaton (from Beetle­juice) and com­poser Danny Elf­man, who would cre­ate an in­deli­ble heroic theme. 3: He got Jack Ni­chol­son as The Joker at the point in that ac­tor’s ca­reer where his sar­donic style, shame­lessly am­pli­fied, lent it­self to Joker’s over-the-top vil­lainy. Bur­ton was re­port­edly in­spired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Re­turns in adding shades of hor­ror (as in Miller’s comic book, the Joker is noth­ing less than a mass mur­derer) but still re­tained a bit of camp hu­mour from the Adam West in­car­na­tion.

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