1. A Tale Of Two Cities
The thematic similarity between Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and The Dark Night Rises becomes apparent rather early. There are a raft of allusions and symbolic references to Dickens’ classic tale of a civilisation that begins to tear itself apart from the inside. This symbolism is spelled out directly in the final act of the movie when Commissioner Gordon delivers part of Bruce Wayne’s eulogy by paraphrasing some of the book’s most beautiful and poignant lines:
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known…”
Christopher Nolan and his brother and co-writer Jonathan have both acknowledged that the book was a chief source of inspiration for them when telling this story. The key protagonist of A Tale of Two Cities is Sydney Carton, also an orphan who, like Bruce Wayne, is prepared to pay the ultimate price for his city and those nearest and dearest to him—a sacrifice just like the one that Batman is willing to make. Despite the trials and tribulations that Gotham is undergoing, Bruce Wayne constantly expresses his faith and belief in Gotham just as Sydney Carton does in A Tale of Two Cities. Both “see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss…”
And, perhaps key in terms of evocations of the Dickens novel, is The Dark Knight Rises’ portrayal of a disenfranchised Gotham populace baying for the blood of the wealthy and privileged, who are ready to sentence them in mock kangaroo courts in which prisoners are given the ‘choice’ of death or exile. At one point Gotham’s Blackgate Prison is assaulted like the Bastille: just as with A Tale of Two Cities’ Paris and London, class warfare and heavy social upheaval permeate Nolan’s vision of Gotham.
Key line: Bane – “Gotham, take control… take control of your city. Behold, the instrument of your liberation!”