A Dark Night for Dark Knight
At three-something-o’clock in the morning last Friday my son and I were among the absurd crowd of sleep-deprived (depraved?) people at the Arclight Theater in Old Town Pasadena. We were there to see the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and final installment of the Batman movie trilogy.
I’ll leave a complete review of the movie to others. But briefly, at nearly two hours and 45 minutes, it’s a lo-o-o-ng movie. The operative word in the title is “dark.” It’s depressing. It’s gloomy. It’s punishing for the characters on the screen and for the audience watching. It’s the Occupy movement on violent warp drive. It has bleeding edge special effects and a face-stretching, decibels-of-death soundtrack. And I loved every one of its 165 minutes running time. (Though I still say Anne Hathaway was miscast as Catwoman.)
As my son and I walked in to the theater lobby shortly after 3 a.m., I already knew I would write this week’s column about how crazy it was to be up at that time in the pre-dawn hours just to see a loud, hyperactive, ultra-violent movie about a cartoon character. We had just walked from the subterranean parking garage all the way up to the movie theater lobby and felt like salmon swimming upstream. There were hundreds of people heading to their cars who had already seen one of dozens of showings of the film prior to ours. Like I said, crazy.
I would soon be reminded, however, what crazy really is.
As we left the theater at 6:45 a.m. – with the sun quickly rising over Pasadena – I called home to my wife, who for some strange reason had passed up the opportunity to lose sleep over the movie premier. Upon hearing my voice, she immediately relayed the breaking news about the killer who hours earlier had burst into an Aurora, Colorado theater showing the very movie my son and I had just seen. This deranged psychopath had killed 12 people and wounded 58 others – at least a dozen of whom remain critically injured as of this writing.
There but for the grace of God and geography – it could easily have been my son and me and the others who chose a particular theater at a particular time to see the new Batman film. To say the least, the horrific news of that early Friday morning certainly squelched any excitement my son and I were experiencing after seeing the film. As I looked around at others leaving the theater while checking text messages or retrieving voicemails, it was obvious that everyone else was getting news of the Colorado massacre, too.
You could hear a definitive change in the demeanor of theatergoers the further they walked from the theater itself to the lobby and to the Paseo patio outside. Sounds of laughter and joy turned to shock and disbelief, and finally to sadness and stunned silence.
In the days since, both the mainstream and social media have been flooded with commentary and discussion about how and why such a thing could happen – again – so close to, and so soon after, where the nearby Columbine High School massacre had occurred in 1999.
Once again the hue and cry for tougher, more restrictive gun control laws has dominated the discussion, understandably so. I won’t open up that can of controversy here – I already have enough readers with poison pens poised to thoroughly castigate me for having an opinion or viewpoint that differs with theirs.
I’ll simply acknowledge the unchangeable reality that we live in a fallen world, with many normal-looking, yet frightfully disturbed people who walk amongst us – and who sometimes do horrendous things and commit heinous, unfathomable acts of evil.
I find it horribly ironic that generations of people have used the darkness and distractions of a movie theater to escape many of life’s harsh realities.
Sadly, last Friday morning in Aurora, reality burst in through an emergency exit and forever tarnished even that refuge of escape.
I’ll see you ’round town.