Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Joker's Wild

Christopher Orr on Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight:

It's a difficult performance to rate on any conventional scale, a whirlwind of energy and effects, tics and tells, Brando and Hopkins and Nicholson thrown in a blender set to "puree" and then dynamited mid-spin. To call it compelling would be a criminal understatement, and yet it seems less the creation of a living self than the annihilation of one, an exercise in the center not holding. Even without Ledger's death, this would be a deeply discomfiting performance; as it is, it's hard not to view it as sign or symptom of the subsequent tragedy.
I wouldn't call it hard as much as impossible to separate the nihilism of the character as portrayed from what we now know was stirring in Ledger's soul. The performance was something more than a performance: it is method acting taken to its extreme, and we are all on the set.

It's impossible to know, but I suspect that had Heath Ledger lived to participate in the rituals of publicity for the film, and if he were still dodging paparazzi today, the performance captured in the film would still be noted but would not be seen in such a forbidding, dark, macabre way. I wonder if observers, including Ledger himself, would put more emphasis on the clownish humor of the character, which is central to it: the Joker's evil clown is somewhere between Austin Powers and Hannibal Lecter.

(via Daily Dish)

1 comment:

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

hey man?! Make a film of my life??!! featering jesus