The Dark Knight (2008 Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine) Opening bank robbery scene analysis – 0:00-2:54


(Second clip continues on at 1:27 from the end of the first clip)

I chose this clip because the Dark Knight is one of my favourite 3 films of all time. I wanted to use one of the scenes featuring the Joker (Heath Ledger) because he was phenomenal in the movie. His performance led to his family accepting a Posthomous Oscar (An Oscar awarded to someone who past away during the year of the given awards) on his behalf for Best Supporting Actor at the 2008 Academy Awards for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.

The opening scene in the movie does not feature The Joker in costume. The scene does not include too much dialog. It is a good scene to talk about in terms of film making because I can talk more about the film making rather than the acting, although superbly done.

Another massive success for this scene and indeed the entire trilogy is Hans Zimmer’s masterful soundtrack. The score matches the film very well. Both Batman and The Joker’s individual scores are only composed of a few notes, with the joker’s score being just 2 notes on repeat with a slight difference in the gap between them, for however long his theme lasts for. In terms of sound and audio, Both Richard King (sound editing) and Lora Hirschberg et al (sound mixing) were nominated for academy awards in their respective categories in 2008 for The Dark Knight, with Richard King going one further than Lora Hirschberg et al to win an Oscar.

Besides Heath Ledger and the previous two people I have just mentioned, The Dark Knight was nominated for a further 5 more Oscars including Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister)

Wally Pfister has been heavily influencial in the regards of Christopher Nolan’s work, having previously collaborated with each other on Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005) and The Prestige (2006). Their companionship would continue further with Christopher Nolan using Wally Pfister on Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in a career that has seen Wally Pfister nominated for 4 Oscars (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Inception in which he won an Oscar for)

The opening shot is a very wide shot showing off Gotham City and this shot keeps zooming in on a tall dark building in the picture, this lasts for about 20 seconds. While this shot keeps coming in closer, There is one long lasting note heard for the soundtrack which works well. Once the window has smashed, it shows who smashed the window. The clown is seen from a medium close up from the side, before it quickly switches to a wide shot showing a medium shot of the clowns body, while also revealing another clown to be in the room by showing of an out of focus cloud head. The camera is behind them. It also uses a shallow depth of field because the clown is looking out of the window and the background is out of focus. Then it quickly cuts to the joker standing in a street holding a mask. The camera is behind him with a wide shot, showing all of the jokers body apart from his feet and showing the surroundings. He is standing pretty much in the centre of the frame, but there is a lampost on the left side to try and fix up the rule of thirds. The camera zooms in on the Jokers clown mask, which is in his left hand. And it keeps doing so until a car pulls around the corner and stops just next to him, then the music changes and it no longer one note. The camera is now using a medium shot from the jokers upper legs to lower chest. Then the camera slowly pans upwards as the joker walks towards the car. Then it goes back to the two clowns who were in the building. The camera is positioned high and shows one clown standing up and showing everything apart from his head and lower legs. The camera is again positioned behind them. The camera then goes to the side and gets a shot of the clowns arm and head out of focus and the wire in focus, with a close up. The camera then goes behind them and shows them going down the wire together. The background is not out of focus, but is not incredibly sharp. It is a medium wide shot. The camera then follows them and gets a shot of the floor from the same height, the camera is not at an angle. The camera then follows the two clowns going down the zipwire together and they are in focus, but the floor is not. It is an extra wide shot with a shallow depth of field. Another camera is at the building opposite the building the clowns just left. It is a smaller building and there is no roof above them. The camera is static as one clown runs out of the frame and the other slips while landing. The camera is positioned low to capture their whole bodies. Another camera is now at the back of the car, with the joker in the left seat in front of him, behind the drivers. You can only see the drivers shoulders and heads. Their heads constantly turn so you can see the masks. Then the camera goes the the side of the front clowns slightly in front of them with a shallow depth of field. And the joker at the back, just making the frame. The camera then returns to the clowns on the roof, with a medium shot, just about managing to fit the whole body of the right clown in frame. The camera is above them as they are crouched but not directly above them, The clowns are at the front of the camera. The camera then pans up and out as they stand up. Then the other camera with the car clowns sees them getting out of the car at a wide and medium depth of field. The three clowns are in focus, but the camera is positioned fairly low, in order to get tall buildings in the background and the side. The camera is behind them as they get out of the car. The camera pans right as they walk quickly over to the door of the bank. The camera is now in the bank staying static and the three clowns walk through the door, one by one. They are all in focus. With a medium shot. Then the camera follows the joker as he comes in last and it becomes a wide shot. The camera is behind him showing the location of where they are, just before the camera changes view again. Then the camera is slightly to the right looking at the bank manager in his separate room as the three clowns come through the door. The bank manager is sitting down. And it is a deep depth of field, with just the back to the view out of focus. You can see all of him apart from his lower legs. The camera stays static as he turns around. The camera then returns to the shot of the three clowns moving up the bank, that was used just before we see the bank manager. The shot doesn’t really have any part of the view sharply in focus, as they storm the bank. The front two clowns are all visible but back clown, closest to the camera doesn’t have his lower legs in shot as he goes out of shot to the left. The camera is now in front of the three clowns and it gets a wide shot that goes from the clowns at the front of the screen, all the way to the back of the rectangular room. All of there bodies are visible. Again there is no particular sharp focus. The depth of field is medium at the front, but the back is out of focus. The camera pans backwards and right as the clowns keep moving forward. Then at the furthest pan on the right, there are only two clowns ins shot. The camera stays with the clown who was closest to the camera in the last shot, but is now behind him and it jumped to him instantly without a pan. It is a medium shot as you can see the clown and a bank worker from waist upwards. It is mainly a deep depth of field, focusing om the women in the background as oppose to the clown, in front of the camera. The camera is static. Then the camera goes back to the two clowns on the roof, and the camera is using a close up of the clown closest to the wall holding a phone. The camera is at the side of the clowns. Everything is in focus. You can only see a small portion of the clowns face. Then the camera uses a shallow depth of field as it frames the two clowns from a medium close up in front of them. Then the camera gets a close up of a bag that one of the lower clowns is filling. The camera is at the side of the bag. It is a deep depth of field as the back and middle of the bag are in focus, but the front is not. The camera is static. Then from the back of the bag, using a medium shot, you can see that the joker is picking up the bag. It is a shallow depth of field as the joker is in focus, but the background wall is not. The camera slightly pans as he moves left.

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