As I sat in the theater waiting for The Dark Knight to begin alongside rows full of exuberant fans I was reminded how good the movie going experience can be. I once stood in line for six hours in order to purchase tickets to Jurassic Park. The experience of watching a sold-out show with a group of crazy fans has been a rare event for me. Fans were cheering and screaming throughout the movie. It was an experience that’s nearly impossible to duplicated outside the theater.
That’s what it felt like last night as two friends waited in line with a large group of Batman fans. As we walked into the theater we passed a fan wearing a full bat suit. The line snaked its way down the lighted corridor. Strangers discussed the early reviews. A number of movie goers had their picture taken with the guy in the bat suit. There was a buzz in the air, and I believe it had a lot to do with the performance of the late Heath Ledger.
There is a scene in The Dark Knight that perfectly captures Ledger’s mesmerizing performance. Many scenes with him include explosions, fireballs, and chase scenes. Chaos at its best. But this one scene reminded me of how I felt when I watched the scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) played Mozart for over the prison sound system. Interspersed between the violence resides this reflective, emotional moment where the actor and character meld into one. It’s transcends all other scenes.
My favorite scene in Dark Knight takes place after a fantastic cat and mouse chase scene. Eventually, the Joker steals a police car and we see Ledger hang his head outside the car like we’ve all done as kids. His shabby hair dandles in the wind and his face paint appears more ominous than ever. He’s taking it all in. All the destruction. All the chaos. It’s Gotham City on his terms and he’s enjoying every minute of it.
I loved it. I won’t forget it.