Joker Scene in The Dark Knight Too Disturbing? POSSIBLE SPOILER

Hollywood is here to make money and to shy away from controversy — at least when the movie doesn’t need it, as the current Batman outing clearly does not — which may explain why a very specific scene in “The Dark Knight” that features the Joker (as played by the recently departed Heath Ledger) may be excised from the film. It was found to be, according to this Cinema Blend report, too disturbing for viewers during recent screenings around the country. As a warning, this article MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, but it’s required to spell out the scene in order to talk about it. You have been warned.

Here’s what CinemaBlend said:

The scene involves Ledger’s Joker character pretending to be dead and being pictured in a body bag. Apparently the aftershocks of Ledger’s unfortunate death are such that many in the screening reacted rather badly to this moment and now execs are considering excising the scene altogether.

Although the Cinema Blend writer refers to the removal of this one scene (should they decide to actually do it, mind you) as “butchering” the product, and all the readers who have commented seem to agree with him, I must take the other side.

Here is my reasoning: This is apparently just a “gag” by the Joker — the article says the Joker is pretending to be dead in the scene, and is being pictured in a body bag. This is not even the character’s actual death scene (if he does, in fact, die in the movie).

Now, if the removal of the scene changes the spine of the narrative completely, then removing it would be harsh. But if it doesn’t, and is, as I suspect, just a blink-and-you’ll-miss second or two in the movie, and it spares Ledger’s friends and family from having to visualize their love one in a body bag — really, where is the debate?

Here’s my final say on this story: It’s up to Nolan. If he says the scene doesn’t matter and can be snipped, that should be the end of the story. But if he says it’s necessary and fights the removal of the scene, then Warner is making a mistake. ‘Nuff said.

Update

Via Obsessed With Film, who has more information on the Joker body bag scene, and what it means to the rest of the movie:

According to the review a few days ago the scene [in question] was pretty much inconspicuous with the rest of the feature and does not effect the plot at all, it could easily be removed without anyone ever noticing.

The above is based on an early review by a Brazilian journalist over at Batman-on-Film, which says:

“Another scene with Ledger/The Joker playing dead inside a body bag caused adverse reactions in the audience, for obvious reasons — it will possibly be cut. (I hope not!)”

Don’t know if the review comes from a screening in Brazil, or a Brazilian journalist in America who saw the screening. Either/or, I suppose.

Update: 4/11/08

Moviehole has a source that claims the scene remains intact:

A source close to the “The Dark Knight” told us this morning that the film remains in-tact – and nothing of Ledger’s will be cut from the movie, including the body-bag scene. ‘’I KNOW for a fact that that scene is in the film. I also know that WB has made no such mandate and that Chris [Nolan] is honest when saying that he will not change what was intended with The Joker.”

‘Nuff said?

Joker in The Dark Knight



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

    Dan, that’s what every fanboy has said where I’ve seen this story. “If you don’t like it, don’t go see it!” Right, as if Ledger’s family could possibly avoid the movie for the rest of their lives. Especially a movie this big, that will be seen by this many people, that will be released pretty much everywhere in a few years and beyond. Don’t be so simplistic. I find it so shocking how utterly cruel some fanboys could be in their devotion to “movie purity”. But then again, it’s not your loved one, so of course you could care less. We call that “selfish”.

    If the scene is in the cut being screened, it’s clearly something he wanted in the movie

    Screenings are designed to gauge reaction, and to be edited as further screenings take place. No film that is screened survives the process intact. So if, by the end of the screening process, we hear that the scene has been taken out, and we don’t hear a peep out of Nolan, then he clearly approves of the cut. If he doesn’t approve, it’ll eventually get out.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com Nix

    Dan, that’s what every fanboy has said where I’ve seen this story. “If you don’t like it, don’t go see it!” Right, as if Ledger’s family could possibly avoid the movie for the rest of their lives. Especially a movie this big, that will be seen by this many people, that will be released pretty much everywhere in a few years and beyond. Don’t be so simplistic. I find it so shocking how utterly cruel some fanboys could be in their devotion to “movie purity”. But then again, it’s not your loved one, so of course you could care less. We call that “selfish”.

    If the scene is in the cut being screened, it’s clearly something he wanted in the movie

    Screenings are designed to gauge reaction, and to be edited as further screenings take place. No film that is screened survives the process intact. So if, by the end of the screening process, we hear that the scene has been taken out, and we don’t hear a peep out of Nolan, then he clearly approves of the cut. If he doesn’t approve, it’ll eventually get out.

  • cece

    yeah..i agree with nix…they should take it off for the respect of the family. if that was someone i knew i wouldnt want to see that scene.

  • cece

    yeah..i agree with nix…they should take it off for the respect of the family. if that was someone i knew i wouldnt want to see that scene.

  • wolfsthornn

    Leave it in, take it out. It doesn’t really matter. The movie is still going to be awesome either way.

  • wolfsthornn

    Leave it in, take it out. It doesn’t really matter. The movie is still going to be awesome either way.

  • Dustin

    We all end up in a body bag sooner or later. It wouldn’t be an issue if people didn’t behave like such freaks and wait outside his apartment and scream “He’s coming out!” when the ambulance removed his remains.

    It’s like my brother was killed in a freak microwave accident. Do I think everybody should hide and remove their microwaves everytime I enter a room? No.
    I just say a little prayer, nuke my Hot Pocket and let the world continue on.

  • Dustin

    We all end up in a body bag sooner or later. It wouldn’t be an issue if people didn’t behave like such freaks and wait outside his apartment and scream “He’s coming out!” when the ambulance removed his remains.

    It’s like my brother was killed in a freak microwave accident. Do I think everybody should hide and remove their microwaves everytime I enter a room? No.
    I just say a little prayer, nuke my Hot Pocket and let the world continue on.

  • Evildoer

    Dustin is right! We all end up in a body bag anyway!

    Jesus Christ man I know the man died but this is his work that he filed, and that should not get thrown out.

    He didn’t die doing the movie he died in his apartment… Case closed.

  • Evildoer

    Dustin is right! We all end up in a body bag anyway!

    Jesus Christ man I know the man died but this is his work that he filed, and that should not get thrown out.

    He didn’t die doing the movie he died in his apartment… Case closed.