” Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…”
William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming
When Yeats wrote these lines, he could see the predicament clearly. He could see the brutality, the lawlessness, the chaos in Gotham City. A kind of chaos that has nothing glorious about it, chaos beyond the enticing verbosity of Lord Baelish in Game of Thrones.
Joker by Todd Phillips is a tale of caution with nothing romantic about the anarchy of Arthur Fleck, his path towards total uninhibited annihilation.
Joker reveals a narrative of double metamorphosis, one specific and the other general. It shows the metamorphosis of Arthur Fleck into the Joker ( a self-proclaimed vigilante with the license to kill) and the transformation of Gotham from a city of order to a city of destruction with wreckage, fire, and dust everywhere.
The intention of the director is an attempt to shed light perhaps on the monstrosities behind the making of a monster, a testament to the belief that every man (good or bad) does have a story.
Fleck appears to be confessing something to his psychiatrist following a routine procedure.
The binary has been established from the very beginning as we learn that Arthur Fleck is a struggling comedian who lives with his mother. If there is one person who could affect him, it is his mother. Fleck’s struggle in an indifferent Gotham City appears real. He does small gigs where he dresses up as a joker in parties and functions. He is bullied, harassed, and beaten up in one of the scenes.
The reason Fleck loses his mind is that he failed to find a way upward. He realized the divide between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the downtrodden was an eternal one, that there existed no fluidity and he could never fathom the echelons traded by Bruce Wayne and his father. There is also an indication that suggests Thomas Wayne be the father of Arthur Fleck, making the Joker and Batman siblings (one for the fandom).
Fleck meets a young girl to who he is attracted while simultaneously losing hold over reality as we later understand.
He shoots a number of young men inside a metro as he finally becomes the Joker, pretending to be the epitome of justice, the face of the oppressed in Gotham City finally giving it back to the ones in power.
Phillips impeccably outlines the traits of blind fanaticism and how demonic the outcome would be if people blindly followed an anarchist who has little sense of reality. It is not a surprise that we see death, fire, and cacophony in the streets of Gotham City by the end of the movie.
The story of the Joker must not be told by the torchbearers of liberation as we must be wary of the sinister smile full of blood, forced upon himself by the devil with tears of naked destruction in his eyes.