‘Batman Begins’: how it all began; from little Brucie, all the way to billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman. This movie is a gem for symbolism searchers, or in other words, students in a film studies class. Jam packed with symbolism, there are a few symbols I would like to explore in this blog entry.
The first symbol, and also the most evident, are the bats. Naturally, a Batman movie cannot be without bats (then again…If a Batman movie can include ‘Shark Spray’…I guess it could exclude bats all together). Little Brucies first encounter with bats are when he falls into an old abandoned well, which is connected to a large underground cavern…Conveniently enough, a home for thousands of bats. This event is what causes Bruce Wayne’s crippling fear of bats. As the movie progresses, Bruce Wayne teaches himself to use this fear to inspire fear into his enemies. As we progress in the film, Bruce Wayne’s fear is reduced to a cool confidence, as displayed when he stands in the midst of a bat swarm.
Masks, masks, and more masks! Well...Only two that have a significant role. Their purpose is to disguise their owner, allowing them to reveal their true beings. Bruce Wayne, the spoiled, rich, bachelor is able to reveal his ambitions and passion for fighting crime. Whereas we have Dr. Crane (and no, not the brother of Niles), who is an intelligent, yet weak, psychiatrist at the Arkham Asylum, is able to reveal his psychotic personality. They’re both otherwise incapable of fighting crime or intimidating people, but with their masks, they’re at the top of class.
The tramway...Oh the tramway. The tramway was built by Bruce’s father, a symbol of productivity and growth. It links the town together, and ideally, brings people together. It was the kind of transportation you could be proud of, seeing as Wayne Sr. himself took it quite often. However, with the death of Bruce’s father, the tramway rusted away. Now, it is as scummy as any other tramway, graphitized, and a haven for the sketchy folks of Gotham city. Bruce himself (that we know of) never stepped into the tramway since before his father died. However, by the end of the film, the ‘big fight’ between him and the League of Shadows takes place on the tramway. The tramway was a symbol of Gotham’s fall from grace.
The arrowhead...You don’t remember it that well? Well, that’s because it’s a subtle piece of symbology. At the beginning of the film, Rachel Dawes has in her hand an arrowhead that she found on the grounds. Well, being a young child, who most likely ‘likes’ Rachel, decides to steal it (yes...Another strange courting/mating ritual of the male species). After stealing the arrowhead, he plunges into the abandoned well. There is a nice slice of irony here, seeing as Bruce, who will eventually become the crime-fighting hero, is stealing himself. Because of this arrowhead, Bruce encounters the bats for the first time, instilling within him that crippling fear.
Batman Begins is a film ripe with symbology. So ripe, that if it were a banana, the banana would be half brown, half yellow. Though some of the symbology in the film is subtle, some of it is blatantly obvious.
...That's about all I have to say about that.