I wasn’t at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and even if I had been, I wouldn’t have been in Aurora. I would have been at Pavilions downtown, or Dave and Buster’s, maybe Cherry Creek. My theatres of choice.
But it was still close. Close like Columbine, even closer because I wasn’t a high school student 13 years ago when the automatic weapons were loosed upon a crowd of innocents. But I am a movie fan, and a midnight movie-goer, and a fan of action films and superhero films and all manner of films with automatic weapons being loosed on innocents. How to respond when a guy calling himself The Joker opens fire and tears a hole in the fictive dream of escape into the movies?
We talked and all three of us decided to go anyway, to not be guided by fear, to get back on the horse.
So we went, and as usual, when the lights went off and the screen filled with images, I was able to immerse, to give myself over to story. I am at home nowhere as much as a movie theatre. Sure, I kept a weather eye on the periphery, stayed aware of exits, darted glances at young men in dark clothing wearing backpacks. And couldn’t help but notice the evening showing at the downtown theatre was just over half full, when it should have been sold out.
In the end, the power of storytelling won out and I was able to forget for long stretches of time. I’ll never know if my experience of the movie was colored by the timing. (I’ll post a review of the movie tomorrow. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the first two in awhile, review them before seeing Dark Knight Rises.)
But I do know stories on film will always be a balm for the madness and violence of real life. The iconic character in the story, Bruce Wayne, became Batman out of the grief of violent, random loss. Turning his damaged psyche into a force for justice and good is a story that has stayed with us for over 70 years. There is no justice truly possible in the real-life crimes that the heavily-armed madman committed, no matter what happens to him now. Justice will not prevail in that grim scenario; a random shooter, senseless slaughter.
But what will always prevail, will always endure, will always be there for us to make what sense we can of the random fragility of our lives, is the power of story.
Many victims of today’s tragedy were fans of science fiction/fantasy. They stood in line to be the first to see, to be inspired, and to escape. As a community of dreamers, we mourn this terrible tragedy and this senseless taking of innocent life.