Batman Begins Breakdown
Recently I posted a breakdown and podcast with 241 Podcast about Atomic Blonde. This was actually the 4th breakdown I did with them, and we are turning it into a regular thing, which is a ton of fun. The first three breakdowns focused on the Dark Knight Trilogy (unfortunately the podcast for the Dark Knight Rises was lost to eternity) but I wanted to go ahead and post my breakdowns of those three movies. So here is Batman Begins. The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises will be coming in the following days.
I have an ambivalent relationship with the Dark Knight trilogy. The movies are more ambitious than any comic-book based movie had been up until that time. There are so many things that are excellent about all three movies including the acting, the mix of comic and real world sensibilities, the production design and costumes, and their overall ambition. The action is fun and usually dynamic. At the same time, though, the movies often fall short of their ambitions especially regarding their relationships and themes.
In some ways Batman Begins is my favorite, because it comes closest to fulfilling the goals it sets for itself. Yet, like the next two films in the trilogy it also has relationship and thematic issues. Though Rachel is the motivating force for Bruce becoming Batman, their relationship never seems to justify this foundation. Likewise, Alfred's advice and hopes for Bruce often seem contradictory, which can be a sign of complexity, but here feel simply inconsistent. Finally, the themes and inner goals seem like a series of false starts (overcoming his fears, living up this father's advice for overcoming failure, etc.).
To hear more on these topics, listen to Podcast 241 with my friends and colleagues Daniel and Donavon, where we discuss the structure of Batman Begins in more depth along with our general feelings of the movie:
As always, these breakdowns contain SPOILERS, and are only recommended if you've already seen the movie. You can check my introduction to these breakdowns, to get an overview of my process and philosophy to these breakdowns.
Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Bob Kane (characters), David S. Goyer (story), Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (screenplay)
Release Date: 2005
Runtime: 140 minutes
Protagonist: Bruce Wayne
External Goal: Stop Ra's Al Guhl plan to destory Gotham
SUCCESS | FAILURE
Internal Goal: Overcome his fear
SUCCESS | FAILURE
Batman Begins has an interesting structure. In my analysis there are both act and sequence level goals. There are four acts, which makes sense for a movie that is 140 minutes. But it also has 11 sequences, with the following structure:
Act 1: Sequences 1-4
Act 2: Sequences 5-6
Act 3: Sequence 7-9
Act 4: Sequence 10-11
The Act Goals also create a structure similar to a video game with a series of increasingly difficult Boss fights. While the goal of Act I is for Bruce to find his path, Acts 2-4 find him combatting increasingly difficult villains. Stopping Falcone drives Act 2, stopping Crane drives Act 3, and stopping Ra's al Guhl drives the final act.
I've broken Batman Begins down into 11 sequences: