Monday, December 12, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 12

Batman Returns (1992) - Dir. Tim Burton

On the surface Batman Returns (1992) appears to be just another film with a coincidental, arbitrary holiday setting. Christmas seems to be used as an aesthetic off-set to the dark color pallet of the character and world of Gotham City. When you look at the film from that point of view it doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Batman has forever been associated with the night and what better way to lighten it up than by covering it with snow for contrast and vibrant colors for stimulation. Drawing inspiration from real cities, like New York, with the tree lighting ceremony and architecture, setting the film during Christmas also reminds the audience that even during "the most wonderful time of the year," terrible things still happen. The film also toys with the notion of being careful what you wish for and explores several themes of surprise and neglect in regards to the Penguin (Danny DeVito). He is born and abandoned by his parents during Christmas, an unwanted gift that they ruthlessly discard. Thirty-three years later he casts his revenge on Gotham City's upper class with an old testament type of wrath. In the meantime, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), struggles with another holiday theme: loneliness. His attraction to Selina Kyle, aka: Catwoman, is as basic and understood in this setting as Kevin's in Home Alone (1990), or Riggs' in Lethal Weapon (1987). In the end Batman becomes symbolic of the spirit of Christmas with his closing line, "Goodwill towards men... and women."

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