Lynn wrote:I've been thinking a lot about this part of the film, because I can't really figure it out.
How do you interpret the end of BB?
The whole film revolves around the themes of justice, revenge and compassion. Doesn't Batman's decision contradict his words about compassion being important? I mean, after all, he does leave Ducard to die.
Does he simply turn Ducard's philosophy against him, in a "You made your choice, now face the consequences" kind of way?
What do you think?
First off, I think in a very simple way Bruce is telling Ras to get f***ed. It's his way of simply saying I win.
But delving into why it's a victory is where the weight of this line can be found. Bruce believed that Gotham simply needs to be protected and given a chance to do better, his core belief is that people are good if their world is stable, it's fear and other symptoms of dysfunctional societies, but mainly fear, that drives a city to ruins. This is Bruce's goal, to make Gothamites feel safe, believing they'd then do the right thing.
Ras believes in a no apologies sense of justice, the only way to protect the world is by getting rid of all that's bad. If you've done wrong, you've lost your right to live. He interprets Bruce more idealistic approach as an unwillingness to do what is truly necessary, saying it with condescension.
So when the moment comes that Bruce wins, Ducard still tries to take the psychological victory, asking if Bruce now knows he has to kill. Thus, Bruce's response meant "I don't have to kill that which is evil, evil will often destroy itself by acting against society. I don't have to cross the line, I just have to allow that which is good to act and let you fall". It is a core expression of what Batman believes, I don't have to kill bad people because, if I create a climate where good is allowed to stand up to bad, the bad will destroy itself when it no longer can get what it desires, when their actions fail because everyone has stood up to them"
The key to this is "mind your surroundings". Ra's often means it literally, as his goals are literal. When Bruce overtakes him, he repeats the line, the emphasis being that Bruce's minding his surroundings come in the form of the citizens of Gotham, Bruce has successfully inspired someone to help him, Gordon, the first domino. So, coming back to theatricality and deception, Bruce goes to fight Ra's up top, but the fight is as much a distraction as it is an actual mission, because Batman's new ally was taking Ra's out from under him without Ra's even noticing. So Bruce flips Ra's own line to point out that Bruce has succeeded, the people have helped him stand up to Ra's, and Ra's was too cynical you could say to even prepare for that. It's particularly interesting that the one man who has the balls to help Batman is the one who can help because he got the cure. Batman gives Gordon an object that literally allows him to not feel fear, and then Gordon in turn helps Batman stand up to evil. This is a microcosm of the whole film really thematically. This brings it all together, Batman defeats ra's not with strength but by his effect on someone good, Ra's never saw it coming because he didn't think enough of the people to at all worry about that.
Unfortunately for Bruce, he was right. In TDK his plan works in theory, as the mob crumbles in the face of a system that no longer is afraid to fight back. What Bruce didn't understand is that the mob, the evil of Gotham, would resort to desperation before ceasing to exist.
Enter the Joker, a type of evil Bruce wasn't planning for, a man that doesn't apply to Bruce's theory of the bad dying when they can't get what they want, because the Joker doesn't want anything. It's easy to not kill the mobsters because as they fail they will lose power, but how do you not kill a man that's goal is for you to kill him, and whose crimes are meant only to drive you to that point? It's at the end of TDK, when Batman wins and then saves the Joker with the grapple, that Batman proves to truly be incorruptible, to be an absolute of his philosophy from BB.
It seems almost every quotable line in these films applies to the entire series. It truly is extraordinary how philosophically and thematically tight these films have been.