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6 Composition, Cinematography, and Moral Lessons From Batman: The Dark Knight

I just watched Batman: The Dark Knight (the older one) — and was blown away.

Here are some life lessons, composition, and cinematography I have learned:

1. Be a symbol

The first lesson: the concept of ‘Batman’ is to be a symbol — a concept to empower others. Which means, you can be a Batman, and inspire others.

The sad things is that in the movie, there are all these Batman ‘wanna-be’s’ that start getting killed by the Joker:

For example, you got Batman imitators with guns:

The concept of ‘Batman’ is justice, fairness, and he is a ‘silent guardian’ who becomes an outcast of society— in order to protect the weak.

The Joker starts killing all these fake Batmans, to find the real Batman (Bruce Wayne):

Funny Eminem reference.

Also note this scene, where Joker has a fake Batman tied up, kind of like those terrorist behading videos (really chilling):

Also note in terms of the cinematography— how you have a scene where there is a ‘frame in a frame’ — by having the camera film a TV screen.

In today’s world, would we see these news on our TV’s— or on our smartphones or laptops?

But the moral lesson: If there is something you believe deeply in, become a symbol. Devote your life to serving others, to inspire others to do so as well.

2. Center and split the frame (50%/50%)

I love this scene, very minimalist. Batman is centered in the frame (see red line for center):

Not only that, you have lots of little white lights on the left of the frame (filling around 50% of the left side of the frame):

See the lights highlighted in red. Also note all the negative black space on the right of the frame:

The next shot pans close to Batman’s face:

How to apply this:

When you make a photograph, or shoot a film — try out the same composition. Split the frame in half— put nice lights on the left (or right) of the frame. Have the other side be dark and black. And keep your subject centered.

3. Silhouette

For drama, start with a wide shot, minimalist— just a silhouette. And pan closer. Then make sure the outlines of your silhouette show up.

See this beautiful scene with Batman on a skyscraper, with all the dark blue skies:

How to apply this

In photography, use minus-exposure compensation. Darken your photos, and make sure the subject has good negative space around them.

4. Leading lines

In Batman’s ‘Batcave’— note the skylights on the frame, and all the beautiful leading lines:

You can see it in red:

Note all the red leading lines points to Alfred (far right in the frame). Note the balance of Alfred on the right, with Bruce Wayne in the far left.

The sad scene: when they shut down the Batcave.

Note the composition: see all the leading lines on top of the frame, and how each of the rows of lights (starting from top to bottom) starts to turn off:

Note how critical it is to have the silhouette of Bruce and Alfred (their black heads against the white lights). Note the beautiful reflection on top of the frame.

An ever closer close-up:

Now see their silhouettes outlined in red:

Lesson: Integrate more leading lines in your frame, and shoot from a low angle (with a wide-angle lens). Make sure to also have the silhouettes of your subjects show up clearly. Also symmetry helps.

6. Action scenes and leading lines

Another leading line to show speed, and to make a scene more dynamic.

See all the leading lines with the Batmobile:

Outlined in red: Another scene, this with the Batman motorycle:

Outlined in red:

Also when using leading lines, it can be used to show a vehicle or person entering a scene: See all the red leading lines: Another scene, this time showing a curved leading line:

Generally note, curved leading lines are more dynamic than simply straight leading lines:

The last scene of the movie: Batman driving away, silently protecting the city, even taking the blame for the crimes of Harvey Dent (for the greater good): ## Conclusion

Watch all the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batmans. They are the best. They are dark, raw, visceral, have deep moral dilemmas, concepts of right vs wrong, and question human morality.

The ultimate takeaway point is this: YOU CAN BE BATMAN.

Wear all black. Treat your clothes like your armor.

Risk your life in serving others Fight for the greater good.

Protect others, especially the weak.

Be strong,


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