A bet between two gentleman, my brother Elliot, and I, has come to it's unavoidable conclusion. I have made my decision today. I have told Elliot which of the two, The Dark Knight, or, The Dark Knight Rises, is the better film overall.
With the price of our midnight ticket, a staggering $14.50 on the line, we entered into a gentleman's bet. Here, below, are the words I wrote him in a letter that I read aloud in his company, along with several other members of the Heinzman and some also of the Johnsonhood:
I speak to you today with a humbled mind and a weight inside it. A weight of 7, lengthy, esteemed, proud and deeply rich and emotionally fulfilling years. Oddly the time it took Bruce Wayne to deduce the various psychological principalities rumbling inside himself to compress the complex inner machinations that resulted in a combination of strength, diligence, and honor, throwing him full force against the wall of justice and thus resulting in his transformation into the greatest crime fighter the world has ever seen: Batman.
It is worth noting that after seeing the final installment—to what is now one of the greatest trilogies in all of the 134 years in the history of motion pictures—that the decision to chose which of the last two films inside the three were the best was a heavy one in deed. Much akin to my version of dropping a bomb on a city full of a large populous, I needed time to arrive at the proper street inside my mind to find myself at a conclusion and outcome that was both, satisfactory, and yet, honest, and truthful. In other words, I needed to gather my thoughts, condense my emotions, expand my mind, and climb the Mountain of Conflict to get the Valley of Resolution.
I have been with this franchise since 2004 when they were filming the first, 2005's Batman Begins. But I have also been with Bruce himself on his journey since I was 4, so I've been along for the ride for quite some time. So when I tell you I have seen, followed wrote about and immersed myself in virtually every piece of media, news, update, casting, production (pre and post) across all three films—you will agree. My excitement spawning daily anew since June 15th, 2005 until the ultimate conclusion to the Nolan Batman Franchise, such a bittersweet conclusion in deed. It is not over, not yet, but the last film has made it's bow. There will be no more.
This decision, which would result in “besting” one film over the other, would solidify, not only an end to our gentleman's bet, but a definitive answer to myself. An answer to the question: is The Dark Knight Rises really a better film overall then The Dark Knight?
Being a gentleman of stature, honor, and most importantly, a lifelong and truly dedicated Batfan, I could not forgive myself if I made haste in my choice, to simply snap to a quick decision. That is why I, even after the week of intense meditation, reflection, and coalition, took an extra day to arrive at my final conclusion.
Understanding I needed a system, I used a modicum of properties to challenge each film with, weighing things against one another, such as the performances, the cinematography, the direction, the scripting, dialogue, story, surprises, and of course the overall level of excitement and involvement I found in myself paired with the emotional and mental impact it had on me upon first viewing.
I have thus determined that using the statistical mental data I have assessed for myself and quantifying the answers to the questions asked of me, that the final determinate is:
Neither one is greater than the other.
They are both equals in their own right.
And though times are tough for everyone as well as me specifically, financially among other daily battles of the mind, and $14.50 sounds extremely attractive right now, I could not, and would not be able to responsibly bare the guilt, the shame, the pain and the lie of knowing that I picked The Dark Knight Rises over The Dark Knight to simply win, and then go purchase a chicken basket with a side of Buffalo Cajun dipping sauce and some much needed gasoline and then merely call it a day.
Please understand the time, consideration and minor stress I have since incurred upon the inception of this Gentleman's Bet, until the moment of it's conclusion. I have taken the properties of it's every fiber as serious as I can. And though, we are merely picking which film is better than which, taking into account my love, and dedication to film as a student, teacher, theorist, analyst (and also applying those titles to me as a Batfan) this decision was not a simple one to make.
No sir, not at all a simple one to make.
It is worth noting though, that putting a film on a cinematic level truly equal to The Dark Knight is an accomplishment in itself. So maybe this isn't exactly a eulogy.
I would like to thank you for your time and your willingness to participate, I have rather enjoyed the sportsman like qualities of the experience. Even though, it comes with a heavy heart, I don't exactly win, and don't exactly loose. My overall confidence in the film of my initial choosing, not exactly exceeding the actual content of itself and my expectations. My final verdict on the The Dark Knight Rises from now until the hour of my death: it was perfect, sublime, and everything I could have asked for.
I'd tell St. Peter that at his gate of gold, as it shimmered down from the clouds on to the earth.
Perhaps that is where the sun get's it glow. . .