This week we’re going to spotlight one of our greatest contemporary filmmakers, Tim Burton. In the 1989 film Batman, Burton generates a whole gothic environment, full of art deco and art nouveau buildings within Gotham City. Locations were inspired by urban spaces from New York City, Los Angeles, West London, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, to Hong Kong (even though Gotham City was a well-known nickname for New York City, before Batman was ever written).
If you didn’t check out our article on Architecture & Batman, do so now – and let us know which Director you think does Gotham best in the comments below…
Original title: Batman Year: 1989 Runtime: 121 min. Country: United States Director: Tim Burton Writer: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren Soundtrack: Danny Elfman Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl
As a child, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) witnesses his parents killed by a criminal. He vows to avenge their deaths in a lifelong battle against crime in the guise of Batman while concealing his secret identity, adopting the public face of a billionaire playboy and head of Wayne Enterprises. Years later, Gotham City is controlled by crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). Despite the best efforts of newly-elected district attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and police commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle), the Gotham City Police Department remains corrupt. Reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) begin investigating the rumors of a shadowy vigilante figure dressed as a bat who has been fighting criminals throughout the city.
Vicki and Knox attend a benefit at Wayne Manor, where Bruce is taken by Vicki’s charms and spends the night with her. That same night, Grissom’s second in command, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), is sent to raid the Axis Chemicals factory. After the police receive a tip-off and arrive to arrest him, Napier realizes he has been set up by his boss as revenge for his affair with Grissom’s mistress. In the midst of the shoot-out, Batman arrives and takes out Napier’s henchmen. In the ensuing struggle, Napier shoots at Batman, who deflects the bullet with his metal-reinforced gauntlet and sends it back in Napier’s face, tearing it open. Reeling from the pain, Napier topples over a platform rail and falls into a vat of chemicals, even as Batman tries to save him. The chemicals and a botched attempt at plastic surgery leave him with chalk white skin, red lips, green hair, and a permanent rictal grin. Driven insane by his reflection, he reinvents himself as “the Joker”, a master criminal and “homicidal artist”.
After killing Grissom, the Joker takes over his empire and holds the city at his mercy by chemically altering everyday hygiene products, causing those using a certain combination of products to laugh to death. Batman attempts to track down the Joker, who has become obsessed with Vicki. During an encounter with the Joker, Batman recognizes him as the criminal who murdered his parents. Bruce’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough), lets Vicki into the Batcave, where she tells Bruce she is in love with him. Bruce promises to pursue a relationship with her after he has defeated the Joker.
Batman destroys the factory the Joker used to make the poisoned products and creates an antidote. The Joker holds a parade through Gotham, luring its citizens on to its streets by dispensing money, intending to kill them with lethal gas. Batman foils his plan, but the Joker kidnaps Vicki and takes her to the top of a cathedral church. After a fight with Batman, the Joker tries to escape on a helicopter, but Batman uses a grappling hook to snare the Joker’s legs to a gargoyle; the Joker falls to his death when the gargoyle breaks loose of its moorings. Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again.
Previously posted on this section…