Monday, July 21, 2008


It's not uncommon for a film director to use a recurring visual theme to communicate something to the audience that transcends the script or the performance of the actors.

For example, "Blade Runner", the epic sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott, employs a recurring eye theme throughout the film. The movie opens on a tight close-up of an eye wherein we see the reflection of giant refineries belching fire into the night sky. The camera lingers on the eyes of each actor. Characters sport strange eye-glasses. We are inundated with the human eye throughout the film and it becomes a visual touchstone for the viewer and a subtle whisper for the director to point us to notice something unspoken in his art.

One of the most unexpected themes of the new "Dark Knight" film starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger is teeth.

Anyone who watches this film will know what I'm talking about. The teeth in this film are a significant visual touchstone.

First we have our main star, Christian Bale. The first time he smiles on camera you'll notice that he's wearing a set of those fake vampire teeth that you buy from the vending machines at Toys R Us, which is kinda cool except then you realize that he's not wearing one of those and you say to yourself, "Hey, that guy has really weird vampire-like teeth."

Morgan Freeman, an actor of amazing range and ability, also has a set of very scary teeth. Just watch the scene where he smiles at the Chinese business owner from across the bargaining table. It will make you wish you were a dentist…or maybe thankful that you're not his dentist.

The Joker, played brilliantly by the late Heath Ledger, also sports a set of yellowed, coffee-stained chompers which he flashes to us continuously throughout the film in scenes gruesome, black humor.

Finally, Aaron Eckhart, who plays the tragic Harvey "Two Face" Dent, displays a
mouth full of perfectly-formed pearly whites which become even more prominent when you get to peek through his grotesquely burned cheek at those never-ending, shiny white molars.

Not sure why the film has such a strong teeth motif, and I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but this film leaves a serious bite mark.

-Keith Giles

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