The Dark Knight is one of my all time favorite movies, and I loved Heath Ledger as the Joker, he made the character seem so creepy and sinister. So when I saw that the pencil scene from The Dark Knight was an option for the look, listen, analyze assignment I had to pick it. I first watched the scene without any audio so that I could focus on just the visual aspects of the clip, even without audio I was able to understand what was going on. The camera switches shots 57 times during the scene but it was mostly focused on the Joker the entire time, but would briefly switch to shots of the mob bosses to show their expressions. The scene starts with the Joker walking into the meeting but he is filmed from behind but as soon as he gets to the table the camera switches to a shot from the front, filming from behind makes his entrance look so much more dramatic than if they had filmed him from the front walking up to the table. The Joker is standing above the table for some time in the beginning while all of the mob bosses are seated, the camera would switch between the mob bosses looking up at the Joker, and the Joker looking down at them. This helps to show the power the Joker has, even these notorious mob bosses are afraid of the Joker. The Joker then pulls out a pencil from his pocket and the camera switches to a back view as the Joker stabs the table with the pencil. One of the mob bosses’s goons stands up to confront the Joker, but he gets his head slammed into the pencil as soon as he reaches the Joker. The camera pans down a second after the Joker slams the goon’s head into the pencil, but you cant see the pencil go into his head. Throughout the scene the camera will briefly switch to shots of the mob bosses’s faces to show their expressions and reactions to what the Joker is saying, and once the Joker brings up the Batman the camera slowly zooms in on the faces of the mob bosses to show that they are scared. The camera zooms in onto the Joker until it’s basically a head shot when he starts to talk about the Batman, because he’s the Joker’s arch enemy and he is serious about killing the Batman. When the Joker brings up the plan about killing the Batman the camera briefly switches to shots of the mob bosses’s faces and they have an expression of disbelief because they don’t think it can be done. Once the Joker gets into the details of the plan the camera is set on a close up of his face, and is zoomed in more on his face than on anyone else in the scene. The camera then switches to a mob boss who is upset with the Joker and he gets up to confront him, the camera then quickly switches back to the Joker who is now standing up with grenades strapped to his body. The camera switches to the faces of all of the mob members who are now terrified, the Joker then leaves his card and the camera switches to a mob boss who looks shocked and angry, the camera then switches one last time for a far away shot of the Joker backing up to the door and escaping. The camera cutting to the faces of the mob bosses really help to show how terrified they are of the Joker, and it helps to show how much power the Joker actually has, the lighting in the scene comes from fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling that don’t really light up the entire room, so there are lots of shadows in the scene and the background looks very grey the entire time which helps to bring out the color in the Joker’s hair and clothes. The focus of the majority of the scene is on the Joker but the frequent camera cuts help to show the mob bosses fear of the Joker.
After I watched the scene with no audio, I then watched the scene without looking at the screen to focus on the dialog and sound of the scene. There is soft eerie music playing in the background as you hear the Joker laughing in a creepy way as he enters the room. One of the mob bosses starts to threaten the Joker and raises his voice almost immediately, and sends one of his goons to attack the Joker, but the Joker almost doesn’t seem to notice and starts talking about a magic trick, and slams a pencil into the table, you hear the goon stand up then theres the sound of a scuffle followed by a slam and the noise of a body hitting the floor, this altercation was very loud. The Joker says “tah dah” in a very loud and rough tone then says “he’s gone” softly but sinisterly. Then the Joker returns to his casual tone. One of the mob bosses softly asks the Joker a question, and you can tell he is scared by the tone of his voice and how briefly he speaks. The Joker responds causally and makes some jokes, but one of the mob bosses calls him a freak angrily and theres some background commentary but the Joker just brushes it off. He clears his throat and starts to talk about the Batman, and his tone becomes much more serious and he emphasizes the word “Batman”. The Joker raises his voice again when he addresses the man on the T.V. and calls him a squealer. The Russian mob bosses interrupts the Joker and softly asks what does the Joker propose, and once again you can hear the fear in his voice. The Joker says that he is going to kill the Batman and everyone in the room laughs, and one mob boss softly asks why hasn’t the Joker killed him then, and you can tell that the mob boss was nervous when he asked the question. The Joker keeps talking causually about the plan and when one mob boss asks how much he wants to be paid, he replies half and the entire room laughs. One of the bosses calls the Joker crazy, and the Joker’s tone completely changes, you can tell by his voice that the comment really bothered him, and he resentfully replies that he’s not crazy, but then he goes back to the casual tone to finish what he was talking about. After some more scheming one of the mob bosses slams his hands on the table very loudly and gets out of his chair and starts to walk towards the Joker, but the next thing you hear is a small jingle and everyone in the room stands up and starts to act tense and scared, this is because the jingle was the noise of a grenade pin. One of the mob bosses threatens the Joker and places a bounty on his head, but he sounds shocked and upset by what happened. The Joker stays cool and collected the entire time and continues to speak casually, he places a Joker playing card on the table and says “here’s my card” but he pauses between each word to give a dramatic effect. He starts humming softly and loudly kicks open a door and exits the room.
After watching the scene without audio, or without watching the screen, I realized there were so many little details I didn’t pick up in the scene. You can really hear the fear in the voices of the mob bosses, and when the camera is focused on their face you can see the fear too. The use of camera angles really help to show how much power the Joker has over them, and the way that he just causally speaks while everyone else sounds very on edge further shows the power the Joker has. With all of these details put together you really see how scary the Joker is, these mob bosses who are supposed to be the baddest people in the city are terrified of this one man.