Using Movies – The Evil Appeal

I want anyone who’s going to be a great filmmaker or screenwriter to be that version of themselves as soon as possible. In doing everything in my power to help you get there, enjoy my words on how you can use a movie– your screenwriting, to create truly original artwork that reflects who you are and asserts your deepest convictions in an entertaining fashion. Today I discuss Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and illustrate how he used the Jokers evil appeal to further his own philosophical thesis.

i'm not a monster just ahead of the curve

Me – Ahead of my Curve

I’ve always had issues with authority. Recently, I wrote the screenplay that was to exist to correct the devastating imbalances of justice I suffered throughout my life. Knowing I had to unite the previously marginalized through our common pain, I gave my soul words to create this theatrical exorcism of suffering, poignancy, and irrefutable truth. I wrote my script also using the evil appeal to entertainingly share my philosophy with the world. Throughout the two-hour historical thriller, I put down the words on women, metaphysics, politics, spirituality, men, ego structures, friendship, will to power, abuse, history, money, manipulation, fame, values, justice, order and chaos, meaning and absurdity, good and evil and how everything boils down to The personal responsibility of choice.

That script is not only my first masterpiece but also my thesis aggressively asserting a very deep philosophical argument that my internal tension seems to generate.

 

Christopher Nolan

Nolan (and his brother – but I’m going to refer to just one Nolan here for ease) asserts LOTS of existential philosophical arguments in his movies through the expression of his characters. This is what we do as writers. 

hmm

In The Dark Knight, Nolan gifts us a savagely witty Joker as the embodiment of a philosophical argument taken to violent extremes.

It’s clear in his body of work this is a man who thinks; look at Memento or Inception (a personal favorite!); His explorations of existentialism are crystal clear after you watch his movies again and again and again and again. In TDK he neatly inserted this philosophical argument between Batman and the Joker. Bale proves to be a perfectly immovable Bruce Wayne and a believably idealistic Batman. That idealism had to hold up against the Joker’s point in order to make their trauma-bond real and their push and pull believably fascinating. They both shine under Nolan’s direction thus gifting us with a truly historic and valuable piece of film history forever. Ten years on and the film holds up like it’s still new. That’s a masterpiece! 

 

Now, let’s take a look at how he might have done it and how you can take what’s important to you and put it in your scripts.  

 

The Dark Knight

Existentialist themes are the poetic bedrock upon which the entire plot stands. I outline briefly a few key definitions to make it easy.

Joker 001 Existentialism: Asserts the total absence of rules, morals, and codes except the ones we make up in our heads to feel better about being alive. Existentialists embrace an idea of a universe without any preordained values. In effect, through exploration and conscious deliberation they choose what has value and meaning in life, for themselves.

Nihilism: Rejects all religious and moral principles. Often in the belief that life is meaningless anyway. It’s pretty extreme skepticism.

a guy like me

Übermensch: An individual who overcomes the fear and dread of a potentially meaningless life. An individual able to define their own values, assign meaning to things, people, and ideas themselves, and carefully choose their own purpose. An Übermensch is a true individual who embraces their will to power and chooses their own fate and therefore writes their own ticket, remaining uninfluenced by anything but their own wise counsel. We never betray the integrity we have with ourselves.

laughing joker

Will to Power: The driving force. “I embrace my will to power and drive it to change the world around me for the better” is a positive übermensch statement. The Joker embraced his will to power and drove it to create chaos. The Batman struggled personally with his own will to power throughout TDK.

joker smirk

Illusory Superiority: the cognitive bias in all of us that causes us to think too highly of our own positive qualities and far too little of our own negative ones.

 

 

Batman and the Joker engage in an epically fierce philosophical battle over the course of three glorious hours.

it's a funny world we live in

Because Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan in the 1600’s, the entirety of Western Civilization is organized on the belief that without government structure people will rape, pillage, and murder each other like primal animals without any sense of natural justice, self-control, or morality. Everyone feared this immoral chaos, so therefore, government, law, and order were “an absolute necessity” and we’ve been living under their control ever since. I have thoughts on this since politically I’m a 19th century anarchist reformist. Did I just make you feel weird or mad for a second there? GOOD. You have a perspective on this too. Write. It. Down. Argue with me in your head and write. It. DOWN.

 

Just like you and I, Batman and the Joker have different opinions on civilization…

 

Joker’s Philosophical Position

the only way to live in this world is without rules

Everyone is as Evil as I am! No one is really better than me, no one is really ‘nice’. These people are really savages who are faking it and I’m going to prove it, just watch! I’m going to push Gotham to destructive anarchy, force civilians to kill each other, free the bad guys and burn 30 million dollars in front of them, make the Batman break his one rule, destroy Harvey Dent’s belief in Justice by killing Rachel, AND THEN YOU’LL SEE!

I disagree with Alfred, who tells Bruce that some people just like to watch the world burn and that the Joker is one such person. Alfred is right about those types of maniacs, but that’s not who the Joker is. No one in TDK understands him. The Joker has a philosophical point to prove, remember? So do YOU, as a screenwriter. Corrupting the “incorruptible” is his objective and how he needs to prove his philosophical point to the Batman. If it’s that simple then he’s not really chaotic is he? He’s actually a Mastermind, not at all a “dog chasing cars”. It just looks like anarchy because SCHEMERS can’t understand him.

He only tells Dent that in the hospital to exploit Dent’s pain at the arbitrariness of the Jokers’ cruelty against Rachel as his tipping point beyond objective justice to fully become Two Face… He definitely has a plan, as true masterminds always do… like you do too. Tell me, do you ever add the liberating element of randomness to your carefully constructed little plans? Or are you a hard-core “Schemer”?

 

Batman’s Philosophical Position

christian bale batman

People are Good! Some are like you, defected. But for the most part, people just want to live a good life and not be harassed by broken miserable criminalsI’m going to save Rachel, save Harvey, save Gotham’s citizens, protect my true identity, restore faith in Gotham’s justice system, and then retire to have lots of sex and babies in my multiplied wealth and prove you wrong AND THEN YOU’LL SEE” 

Batman is an Übermensch who drives his will to power to correct injustice in an unlimited, unsanctioned and illegal way. He struggles with his own internal tension and is baffled at the apparent absurdist nature of the Joker.

He tries to know his man, figure out what he’s after. When the Joker doesn’t work that way, burning millions of dollars and annoying him with darkly augmented philosophical witticisms, Batman is forced to learn through the experiences the Joker puts him through.

This is his mistake the whole movie… he doubts his will to power and struggles with internal tension that makes it difficult for him to be honest with himself about his own character defects and blind spots that prevented him from seeing the Joker for who he really is.

The Game

Each übermensch tries to prove their point through not only their own actions, words, and interactions with and against each other…. But through the actions, results, and responses of Rachel, Harvey, and Gotham’s citizens in response to the stimuli fed to them by both Joker and Batman. Those who already have a little pleasure in hurting people won’t take much to be nudged to destructive anarchy. Those who want to believe in the best don’t take much to openly support Batman’s idealized justice.

The Result

rachel dies

If Batman embraced his will to power and drove it to accurately assess his own defects and see the Joker clearly for who he really was, he wouldn’t have played his game and he would have been able to save both Rachel and Harvey. Thinking clearly would’ve allowed him to outwit the Joker. But he couldn’t see it and played right into the Jokers hands. He thus paid the highest price for his own Illusory Superiority. He lost Rachel.

Even so. When the night is darkest just before the dawn…. even after losing the only person who could ever understand him, know him, and truly love him with a kind of devotional love men dream of…. he proves himself to be truly incorruptible. He never breaks his One Rule.

Batman stands by his values and never betrays the integrity he honors in himself as a knight and thus truly achieves Übermensch status.

Harvey Dent was Gotham’s White Knight, full of authentic integrity, a real passion for unobstructed and impartial justice, and a paragon of Fairness. This point was an easy score for the Joker. All he had to do was kill Rachel. (We’ve all suffered errors in judgement in selecting mates so I’m not judging I’m elucidating: Rachel chose Harvey over Bruce which was a mistake. Harvey wasn’t a real übermensch because he proved corruptible, Bruce was the better man… )

We then saw him swing to the alarming nihilistic extreme… killing five people, “two of ’em cops!” and reducing their fates to the arbitrariness of chance. His fucked up two-headed coin whose one side got toasty when Rachel got toasted.

the only morality in a cruel world is chance

Acting the complete opposite of due course in a functioning justice system he strived his whole life up to that point to actualize. Flipping a coin to determine human life, Harvey’s spiritual regression proves the Joker’s philosophy correct and his mission successful in disrupting society’s sense of Illusory Superiority.

madness as you know is like gravity all it takes is a little push
The “schemers” who try so hard to control everything, right? The fake “civilized” people who care about money and cars who think they’re “better than”…. Yeah, the Joker humbled Gotham by bringing them back down to their primal savage origins through Harvey’s soul degradation.

Batman did everything he could to try and save both the love of his life and the city’s paragon of hope…. In the end even going so far as to absorb the blame for Dent’s injustices so that the people may still believe in Goodness. The way those citizens on the boats showed Batman and Joker goodness can still triumph. This is how he becomes The Dark Knight.

can't rely on anyone these days

Because Gotham’s citizens not only proved the Joker wrong. They proved his philosophy wrong to themselves and each other. Whatever anyone thought about society and civilization when they boarded those boats, they know after that ordeal where the city stands with itself. Gotham effectively broke up with their abusive boyfriend who was deploying a logical fallacy to present two alternative states as the only options (blow up the other boat or die) when in fact more possibilities exist (like doing the right thing and believing in the best in the other boat to do the same) by refusing to play his game.

Batman wouldn’t let the Joker take what Harvey stood for from the people… He saw a tipping point for his beloved city when his citizens proved him right on the boats. He learned from them.

So he runs… he runs to give Gotham “a little push” in the direction of goodness… hoping they too will run with it. 

This is what makes me cry at the end.

Harvey Dent is the hero Gotham needs but doesn’t deserve…

Batman is the hero Gotham deserves… but doesn’t need…

Argh! Nolan sure knows how to make sapiosexuals swoon. Nolan Nolan Nolan, Nolan gives us this Cinegasm to vicariously live through and experience for ourselves.

it's about sending a message

It is about sending a message, what do you have to say as a writer?

Our idealistic hopes for our own lives and the future of humanity stick to Christian Bales face for three hours, making him handsomer over time as we watch him overcome each moralistic blow dealt by the Joker and stick to his integrity.

Our Jungian shadow-side shamelessly indulges in anarchistic delight in step with Heath as we watch him humble authority figures by obliterating their illusory superiority, outwitting them, and killing them in funny ways.

let her go poor choice of words

 

We laugh with him and delight in the true freedom in which he acts, like letting Rachel’s hand go when he’s instructed to “Let her go.” – wouldn’t that have occurred to you as well, and wouldn’t it be hilarious? Teeheehee!

 

The freedom criminality appears to offer when one disregards all other life in totality is something Heath Ledger masterfully exorcises with visceral control over his effect that is spellbinding, perfectly illustrating the appeal of evil.

 

The End

In the end… they both win. This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. you complete me

They are bonded forever, meant to use each other to advance or regress spiritually and inspire the world to do the same in a lifelong philosophical battle until one of them dies.

 

you wont kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness

 

Now that you understand a work of genius more intimately, it’s your turn to go write something legendary.

 

 

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

29 Loglines

It can not be understated the importance of a great logline. Keep in mind, even the best or rather simplest written loglines can still fall short conveying how creative the film will ultimately express itself. That’s not the logline’s job though, so put that aside.

The logline is about instant understanding.

So, what is the movie about? I initially have trouble boiling this down, so don’t feel bad if you do too. But boil, we must.

Get some scratch paper and a writing instrument. I say writing instrument because I don’t know who you are; Maybe you’re someone’s mom and the closest thing in reach is a soggy sugar cookie. Or maybe you’re backpacking Europe and are jotting your ideas down with eyeliner. I used to run out of paper and write ideas on disassembled Tri-X film boxes. 

My screenwriting philosophy is individual-focused and anti-formula. This is what worked for me, and it might for you. Read the list of 29 and as soon as you get a feeling, write something down. Anything. While anything can lead to something, nothing can’t lead to anything. So don’t judge what you write. Look away, come back. You’ll likely find you have something better to work with than you previously thought. 

Your logline makes the 30th, if it doesn’t read as good as the rest, keep working on it until it does.

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

THE GODFATHER

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

TITANIC

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

PULP FICTION

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

THE MATRIX

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

FOREST GUMP

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

CASABLANCA

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

REAR WINDOW

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

THE HELP

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

ROCKY

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

THE ARTIST

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

SAW

With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

CLERKS

A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.

ONCE

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

THE FULL MONTY

Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for “the full monty” – total nudity.

THE LION KING

Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.

AMERICAN BEAUTY

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s attractive friend.

TAXI DRIVER

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

HALLOWEEN

A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.

RESERVOIR DOGS

After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Three film students go missing after traveling into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about the local Blair Witch legend leaving only their footage behind.

One Writers Revisions Process

 

How do you do your revisions?

I’m a fountain without a valve:

I gush on or shut off. 

 

After I frenzily finish a script, I completely ignore it for a few weeks. I put my attention elsewhere to cleanse my palette thoroughly. I make sure I have a lot of time with myself so I can hear my intuition.

Then, I dive back in. I’ll read and write and change pretty obsessively until I get it to where it “feels” right. Then I’m pretty exhausted again and I shut it all down, go to sleep, or go off to do something else.

This is me formalizing a structure to my natural creative process for your benefit incase it also happens to work for you.

The key is to trust your Self. Follow your intuitive desires, thoughts, curiosity, and inklings. I trust in my own timing as creator. I trust that when the time is right, this intellectual property will finish itself the way it wants to be, at completion. It always does.

It could be in the middle of a conversation with a new person, waking up thirsty, finally falling asleep after fighting against it, driving on the open road, walking, or doing any of the things I do in my life–  but my next moment of inspiration will strike. And the faucet whirls back “on” for it. Or for something else, and I follow that through, too.

It goes on in this cyclical manner for quite some time, again always until I get it to where it feels “right”.

 

The important things to remember are the things that SUPPORT your creation and the things that THWART your creation.

 

Fear, self-doubt, hating your self, hating your life, deep regrets, shame, and guilt will all THWART your efforts to create. If you’ve gotten as far as to have written and completed a screenplay there must be some part of you that is attempting to break free. If you’re being harassed by the above saboteurs, work on controlling your thoughts. It’s really hard. So work hard.

 

For those who live in and support themselves on the quality of their intellectual property, it’s of the utmost sincerest importance that your mental, creative, and emotional faculties remain unobstructed to creative genius and favorable decision-making.

 

So now that you’re creating or maintaining a safe place inside yourself where you’re loved enough to allow your individuality and creativity reveal itself, these are the simple steps to produce your best revisions (according to Moi):

  1. After completion of the first draft of the script, leave it alone for a minimum of two weeks. If you have any genuine changes, insights, or epiphanies during the two weeks or more, write them down to get it out. Put them in the same place, like an envelope with the script in a drawer or folder, before directing your attention elsewhere immediately. The point is to get it down and move on as quickly as possible: spend only as much time as it takes to transfer the idea to physical paper. Do not linger on the story seeking new inspiration! 
  2. Do things to continue to put distance between you and the story: Meet, find, see different people. Try things outside of your comfort zone; if you stray too far be sure to nurture yourself with comforting activities, food, and alone time. Watch movies, read books, drive, walk, re-focus on important relationships, help someone else, travel, re-enforce your boundaries, redirect attention to other revenue streams and businesses, and my favorite thing: learn. This is the best way to put distance between you and the story, stretching another brain map area by continuously trying. It’s in the trying. Get yourself “into” something else. Pick a new “thing”.
  3. Okay it’s been two weeks, what now? If it’s been two weeks or you’re ready to come back and comb the script with your revision (whichever comes first), you will find that along with your script when you come back to it, you will have LOTS of changes to make!! Beautiful assortments of papers will not only re-inspire you, but further validate confidence in yourself. You will feel pride and appreciate that the time and care you put into taking care of yourself was instrumental in nourishing you to finish what you started at the quality caliber you initially wrote it. It will basically have revised itself.

What if I don’t have any notes? Have received no inspiration or insights? Can’t stop the thwarting thoughts crippling me with insecurity, fear, and unworthiness?

Then you need support! No shame, my friend. I might be able to assist you overcoming this intellectual property debacle, or it might be beyond my capacity to help you. You can give me the important details after the jump if you’re interested in trying something different. There’s only honest and confidential information shared between us, so if I asses that something else might work better, you’ll receive the benefit of my suggestion at no charge.

Try it, it might work for you. Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

 

Update from the Mountain

Hey Babes!!

I’m happily writing and working hard from the road to bring you the fullest digital expression of my creative Self as possible. Imagining futures, recalling memories, reading, traveling, philosophizing, writing it all down– and snacking constantly, I’ve made incredible leaps in understanding regarding my own personal Art of Living.
I will of course share my insights and humor on such things; there’s a considerable amount of additional work I’m very proud to show you when the time comes.


Right now I’m traveling for relationships: investing my time and energy visiting with old family, new family, old friends, new friends, good friends, far friends, while checking in with my business partners making sure we all get enough quality face time, and lastly meeting new people and building new relationships.

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

I write constantly, manage my finance portfolio from the road, and take bigger life decisions into deep consideration while traveling between everyone. It’s been the breather I need after excitedly coming off of a substantial writing project. I need to organize all my thoughts and news and projects so I can share it fully with you, and I am so looking forward to it!  I’ll still be traveling for the rest of the summer and early Fall before settling down at my place, so check back mid-August for the next level of this website to enjoy everything along with me, in step!

Yours,
Natalee