Curiously human

Posted by · 7:11 am · February 5th, 2009

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

I expect the late Heath Ledger to win the Oscar for best supporting actor for “The Dark Knight,” but I’m not choosing his performance as the “most elevating” out of sympathy. It was elevating for an entirely separate reason: He transformed the character of the Joker, who we thought we knew so well, into a suffering, haunted being, stripped of all emotion except for ruthless self-pity.

Exactly what wounded the Joker is hard to say (he tells conflicting stories, neither one necessarily true), but something certainly did. His role as the Joker is not performed to entertain himself, but as a necessary acting-out of turmoil. Its function as a deliberate performance is underlined by his makeup, deliberately cruder and messier than previous Jokers, as if he slops it on with anger. His laugh is maniacal.

These feelings are a tribute to Ledger, to director Chris Nolan, and to the screenplay by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan. This Batman film, while still an over-the-top comic book extravaganza, is curiously more human than before, giving greater weight to the characters as if they actually were, however impossibly, human beings.

From Roger Ebert’s recent article on the “most elevating” performance of the supporting actor contenders.  More “elevated” picks can be viewed here, best-of choices including Mickey Rourke, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis and “Milk.”

→ 6 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

6 responses so far

  • 1 2-05-2009 at 7:22 am

    Kokushi said...

    Great article, Heath was amazing and my favorite performance what i have seen from any actor in 2008.

  • 2 2-05-2009 at 8:05 am

    RockMocha said...

    Whatevs. Ledger was the best part of a mediocre movie that put me to sleep in the last hour. I’d say the writing was better than the performance, personally. Alas, I know the guy caused his own death and we must all pretend like he was the greatest actor to walk the planet earth.

    Can we stop the Ledger obsession when the Oscars are over? It has been a year already. Move it along!


  • 3 2-05-2009 at 8:35 am

    Scott Ward said...

    RockMocha, no matter how long the justified Ledger obsession lasts, it can assured that people have long ago stopped paying attention to anything you have said.

  • 4 2-05-2009 at 8:38 am

    RockMocha said...

    the same clearly can’t be said for you, hanging on my every utterance!



  • 5 2-05-2009 at 9:04 am

    Scott Ward said...

    I figured you say that. I’m not the one who thought one of the best movies of the decade was mediocre and I’m not the one saying that Ledger’s performance didn’t match the dialog. Not only that, I’m not the one bitching like a five year old who didn’t get his candy for all of this fuss to end about what will likely end up being the most important movie of this decade. And because he’s dead you think we shouldn’t credit his performance for being what it truly was? You have a seriously skewed perception of the world around you. Of course my words don’t mean anything, but I don’t put out a statement to everyone proposing something stupid like my words actually mean anything to anybody. Just because you can speak does not mean you have more importance than a turd. And since when is reading something hanging on someone’s every utterance? Again, this shows your misconceptions. If you believe that then that clearly shows your pretentiousness in that you deceive yourself into thinking that your words are worthy of garnering such attention. Again, I don’t claim any importance. You do so when there is none. Opinions are fine, but when you unjustifiably try to spread them to others, a problem arises.

  • 6 2-05-2009 at 11:37 am

    Adam Smith said...


    Sorry. Only defense against trolls.