Scenes Spotlight: The Dark Knight’s Interrogation and Harvey Dent Dinner scene

It’s only been four years since The Dark Knight opens, but it feels like ages. I’m watching it as I’m typing this, though this post has been in my draft folder since I read this Hero Complex article a few months ago. Well, since I’m hugely anticipating the final installment of Christopher Nolan‘s supremely lucrative Batman trilogy, it seems like it’s as good a time as any.

Hero Complex editor Geoff Boucher asked Nolan to pick his favorite scene from The Dark Knight and he answered quickly,

Nolan: To be honest, it’s pretty easy for me. The scene that is so important and so central to me is the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker in the film. When we were writing the script, that was always one of the central set pieces that we wanted to crack.

This is the scene where Batman nearly lost it… he’s pushed to the limit like he’s never been before. In the article, Nolan shared that he couldn’t find a moment “…where you actually worry that Batman will go too far. A moment where his rage might spill over and he would break his rules.” But The Joker clearly had such power to get into anyone’s skin, including our dark knight. He’s just so ruthless and has absolutely nothing to fear. And all for no real motive, just like Alfred’s story about the Burmese ruby, it proves that indeed ‘some men just want to watch the world burn.’

Even his outlandish appearance makes you squirm, the way he moves, constantly licking the side of his made-up mouth… it’s all very disturbing. And I think it’s amplified tenfold in this scene.

This might be one of the most bright-ly lit scene in the whole entire movie. Instead of the common dark interrogation room, we’ve got a stark room with a harsh, bright light and you see every single detail of both Batman and The Joker. Nolan said that the Batsuit was specifically designed for the scene in a way that it would hold up to the scrutiny of that glaring light.

What I like about this scene is that it’s got humorous elements – hence an easy target for a spoof just on Batman’s voice alone – but it’s also highly sinister, wicked, merciless as The Joker holds the answer to the lives of two people our hero holds dear. So it’s extremely personal for Batman, I mean, one doesn’t go THAT berserk if it weren’t personal, and you just feel for him, his agony. No wonder he’s all ‘bottled-up fury’ as Mr. Boucher said in the interview. I mean, most people might not survive such pressure! Both Heath Ledger and Christian Bale are in top form here.

I like what Nolan said at the end of that article that sums up this scene perfectly: How do you fight someone who thrives on conflict? It’s a very loose end to be left with.

***

You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain

That’s one heck of a great quote… and Aaron Eckhart is just brilliant in this role, absolutely brilliant. I feel like his character, just like Bale’s himself, is drowned out by people’s adulation for Ledger. And while that’s warranted because his Joker’s performance is truly iconic, there are other memorable characters that makes this film so rich.

Now, there’s a plethora of favorite scenes from The Dark Knight that would warrant its own top ten list, that truck flip scene is one of my top 20 scenes I could watch over and over, it’s just pure adrenaline rush! But the dialog is what makes a movie stand the test of time, and the conversation in this dinner scene is most fascinating to me. It’s not only the first time two of Gotham’s most powerful meet: Bruce Wayne and District Attorney Harvey Dent. Unbeknownst to him, Dent ends up defending the masked vigilante right in front of the man himself, and he believes that the Bat-man is on Gotham’s side. Thus, for the first time Bruce is hopeful that perhaps one day his city might not need Batman. That night he too, believes in Harvey Dent…


I LOVE this scene! It makes it all the more tragic what happens to Dent at the end… nobody at the table knew that philosophical quote he uttered here is the harbinger of things to come.


So have you been watching Nolan’s first two Batman movies before The Dark Knight Rises? What would you be YOUR favorite scene(s) from The Dark Knight?

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38 thoughts on “Scenes Spotlight: The Dark Knight’s Interrogation and Harvey Dent Dinner scene

    1. Hey thanks Mark! I’m glad I remember that this was in my draft, seems like a perfect week to bring it to light. I’m gonna finish watching TDK tonight, and I might rewind these two scenes again 🙂

  1. ME and my dad also watched the first two Nolan batman movies in preparation.And about the dinner scene(and Two-faces character in general), after during our rewatch of TDKR my dad felt Nolans handling of the romance aspect lacking. He said something like “There should be triangle here, and there really isn’t”

    1. Well the romance is not the focus in this film. I’m actually glad Nolan downplays the love triangle bit but yet still makes it an interesting complications in the story, what with Rachel giving that letter to Alfred about her intentions. So there definitely is a triangle, but done in a brilliantly-subtle way.

  2. Two excellent scenes, both of which are essentially characters talking (with a little table throwing for fun). Nolan may deliver epic films, but it’s the small moments with the humans at the center of the spectacle that really make this material work.

    1. Yes indeed Jamie, the ‘talking’ scenes are just as thrilling to me. I LOVE that Nolan offers a great balance of that and fun, bombastic action stuff.

  3. Having just re-watched both ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ last weekend, I’ll second your thoughts on these two (and agree with Jamie’s thought, as well). These scenes during the spotlight you gave them. Well done, Ruth.

    1. “These scenes during the spotlight you gave them.”

      That should have read: These scenes deserve the spotlight you gave them. Sheesh. I must be tired ;-).

    2. Thanks Michael. I had planned on only spotlighting one post, but I couldn’t help highlighting Eckhart’s performance as Harvey Dent, he’s equally brilliant but often overlooked.

  4. The interrogation scene is pure gold. Basically everything the Joker says in the film is right – about how people will eat each other when the circumstances are not favorable, about how silly what Batman does is, but when he shouts and laughs “You have nothing to threaten me with!” it’s just incredible.

    1. Hi Sati, yeah that line when he said it gave me goosebumps!! Such a phenomenal scene, no wonder Ledger won a post-houmous Oscar for that role, I wish he had been alive to receive it 😦

  5. Definitely two great, quotable scenes. Considering all the action that’s in this movie, it’s a sign of how well done it is that two non-action scenes stand out as being so good and so pivotal to the movie.

    1. Thanks Morgan, and for including this link on your blog. I love it when a film has a great balance of action and talking scenes that are equally thrilling, TDK certainly offers plenty of those!

  6. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    I’m with you and Michael on Aaron Eckhart in an essential, somewhat underplayed role. Very reminiscent of Jeff Bridges in his prime. While Heath Ledger’s Joker wasn’t Mark Hamill or drawn by Warner Brothers. It was every thing I could want and expect from the darker flip side of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego.

    1. Oooh I’m sure he’d be flattered by the comparison to Jeff Bridges. I LOVE Eckhart in Thank You For Smoking, and I’m sure he’ll bring something great in the ‘Die Hard in the White House’ movie w/ Gerry Butler. Two very underrated actors IMO.

      1. jackdeth72

        Hi, Ruth!

        I’ve been a fan of Aaron Eckhart since his role as Chad in ‘In the Company of Men’. An actor very comfortable in his own skin who brings what he can to any role given him.

        Heck, I even liked him trying to channel Vic Morrow’s Sgt. Saunders of TV’s ‘Combat!’ in ‘Battle L.A.’. Though his absolute best role was as Nick Naylor in ‘Thank You for Smoking’.

        I also think Aaron and Gerard Butler would be a smooth and workable fit.

  7. Ted S.

    I really like the interrogation scene too, I think Batman was pretty much powerless even though he’s beating the crap out of the Joker. Here’s a person who doesn’t care about anything except creating chaos, how do you deal with that?

    I didn’t watch any of the first two Bat flicks before seeing TDKR, mostly because I’ve seen them so many damn times, I kind of got tire watching them. My favorite from TDK though is the big chase scene in the middle of the film, I thought it was Nolan;s best action sequence that he shot until I saw TDKR last night.

    1. Yeah, poor Batman. I think he’s more than met his match in The Joker, I mean when he had to choose who to save he initially said he’d save Rachel first but well of course we know what happened 😦

      Woo hoo, can’t wait to see which scene you mean, man!!

  8. As much as I enjoy TDKR, it misses someone like The Joker. Bane was imposing an all, but Heath Ledger’s interpretation makes this my all-time favourite cinematic character.

  9. ilovethatfilm

    Great piece Ruth! My fave scenes are the opening bank heist and when the Joker crashes the party! Both essential Joker moments! Not long till I can see TDKR tomorrow!

    1. Ah yeah, those two scenes are great too. That’s why I said you could easily do a top 10 fave scenes from just this movie alone. Enjoy the movie, man!

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  11. Great scenes indeed Ruth. Chris Nolan is great at building up moments and scenes like these without making them seem overly serious or contrived as you watch them. It’s engrossing and it’s no wonder so many are so enthusiastic about his Batman trilogy.

    1. Thanks Cas. Yes, not contrived at all. By this point, we already care about the characters, that’s what makes Nolan’s Batman flicks so engrossing. Can’t wait for TDKR!

  12. Ruth, I definitely watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight prior to watching The Dark Knight Rises earlier this morning. Both scenes that you mentioned in this post are scenes that I will never forget. The last scenes are also memorable. When Gordon, Batman, and Harvey are all talking, as well as the conversation that Batman has with Gordon before he rides off. Definitely one of the best comic book films ever made!

    1. I didn’t get to see Batman Begins before TDKR so good for you Raul. Yes, there are a lot of cinematic greatness in this one, and I think there are probably more here than in the last one now that I’ve seen it.

  13. Yes, yes, and yes. Great scenes from a classic film. It’s a movie that shows the superhero genre as more than summer popcorn fluff. It’s one of my all time favorites.

    1. My hubby just said this morning that Nolan didn’t exactly create a superhero film, he did adapt a comic book material but made it his own. That’s why his work is more than popcorn fluff. Thanks Keith!

  14. Ruth, you can imagine how excited I am as a huge Nolan fan and a huge Batman fan. I cannot wait for Friday to get here! I’m watching both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight one day before.

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