Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Nightmare that tastes like candy"


Christopher Nolan: "You certainly can push it too far, but interestingly there are different ways to be disturbing  I mean, I don't talk a lot about the previous films because I didn’t make them and they're not mine to talk about but certainly if you look at Batman Returns with Danny DeVito as The Penguin, there are some extraordinarily disturbing images in that movie. But they're coming at it from a surreal point of view." (Rebecca Murray interview)


Tim Burton: I feel pride in this movie, I feel close to it , you know, lots of aspects of it that I love (BR Commentary)

The gangster/film noir, Gothic/Industrial look and the Citizen Kane approach of the first movie was behind. Batman Returns, like most of Tim Burton's early movies, does not comply to the rules of logic and technical accuracy - nor does it need to, nor did it ever claimed to do. It's a ethereal and expressionistic tale. Just like Edward Scissorhands, it  follows a classic dark fairy tale formula mixed with modern storytelling and Burton's surreal, gloomy and artistic vision. This way an entirely new genre is created - it's a world of black and white and stripes and spirals, the world of tarnished souls and hurt outsiders (Edward, Penguin, Bruce).  Tim Burton's classic storytelling has been described by some as Dark Disney and, more accurately, an Opera. His movies have a lot in common with Phantom of the Opera, telling the stories of psychologically and/or physically deformed outsiders who live in the shadows in a very operatic style.

Expressionism is a mode of representation whereby internal feelings and abstract concepts are displayed externally, often at the expense of realism and artistic convention. Expressionist art usually has a surreal or fantastic quality to it, presenting distorted aesthetics through which the true nature of a thing is belied in its external countenance (Catwoman's patchy suit - Selina's patchy and fragmented personality, Batman's suit - his inner darkness and psychosis, the look and design of Gotham with the statues in cry and despair - the dark and evil nature of the city, Selina's apartment in worn out pink - her sad and tired character etc). In narrative terms, Expressionist films were often preoccupied with dark subject matter such as evil and madness (Keaton's Batman and Catwoman = madness, Penguin-evil). The Penguin's home in a cathedral-like cave is furnished with elegantly curved Gothic arches and dark vaults


Tim Burton: The thing about Batman [movies] for me is always expressionist, so you know, even though there's different forms of that theres expressionism in the first and in this but this probably had expressionism with a bit more deco elements. (...) Even though it was expressionist we used different influences (BR Commentary)

Daniel Waters (screenwriter): " Theres a real tragic side to every character that adds to the terror”(Fangoria #114, July 1992)

Batman Returns is so personal that it owes much more to Edward Scissorhands. Not only is the theme identical--that of the misunderstood man-boy, whose knowledge of the dark side of life has made him unlovable, he fears, to other human beings--but so are the tattered leather costumes, the exaggerated, expressionistic set design, the swelling, highly emotional score by Danny Elfman, and many of the more self- pitying lines of dialogue.
Over it all falls the lovely and inexplicably moving artificial snow of Edward Scissorhands's fairy-tale setting.
(Toronto Star, June 1992)


An operatic costume drama by a director who worships weirdness. 
The bat symbol, like the mask from The Phantom of the Opera, has become an icon of gothic glamour--a talisman for those seeking light entertainment from the dark side.(Maclean, 1992)

What they will find in Batman Returns is less a sequel of Batman than a darker version of Burton's Edward Scissorhands.(Columbus Dispatch, June 1992)
Mr. Burton creates a wicked world of misfits, all of them rendered with the mixture of horror, sympathy and playfulness that has become this director's hallmark. (NY Times, June 1992)

Something about the filmmaker's eccentric, surreal, childlike images seems to strike a deep chord in the mass psyche: he makes nightmares that taste like candy. (Newsweek June 1992)

Tim Burton: That’s why I like this material, there's an operatic tragedy really to the whole thing (BR audio commentary)



THE CHARACTERS

In Batman Returns, the villains are also protagonists. Like all great expressionist films, Batman Returns explores psychology. The main psychological motif that is present throughout the film is duality. All of the main characters are dealing with conflicting dual personas. Batman has much in common with Penguin. Like Penguin, Batman’s identity shattered into two as a result of his parents. Though with Batman it was the murder of his parents where with Penguin it was abandonment by his parents. Both men are wronged by society and they both seek out a means of retribution.

This is an unusually complicated narrative with three separate, competing plot strands which actually take place in utterly different genres (comicsbeat.com)


There was a very unique approach to the character started in the first movie, with Batman being more like a Phantom of the Opera and a person that has a mysterious dark side. He sleeps upside down and sits alone in the dark. Batman/Bruce Wayne doesn't speak a single line until 37 min into the film

Tim Burton: Again for these characters, they have a tragic beginning, the middle and end and that sort of opera tragedy goes with this material (...) He's a man whose dressed as a bat, it doesn't get anymore operatic than that in a certain way (...) You know that's an opera , you can see why it's an opera, it's such a grand sort of phantom of the opera kind of thing (BR Commentary)


Tim Burton:  [The people who criticized lack of focus on Batman] were missing the point of the character of Batman. This guy wants to remain as hidden as possible, and in the shadows as possible, and unrevealing about himself as possible, so all of those things -  you know, he’s not gonna eat up screen time by these big speeches and doing dancing around the Batcave

Again, I felt less is more with him in the sense of who he is. (…) Michael’s eyes -  it goes back to kind of like silent movie acting. I like when people sort of just look. It’s a movie so you kinda get more between the lines then you do [from] the actual lines (…) There's a loneliness to that character and witheldness. He’s a character that is sad and is private
Even when hes standing there looking there's an electricity about him. Again this is why I wanted him for Batman because its all about that. (BR audio commentary)


Bob Kane: When Bruce Wayne was 10 years old, his mother and dad were murdered coming out of the theater. This dramatic shock motivated him to become a vigilante. became, in his own way, as psychotic as the Joker, except the Joker fights against justice and for evil. They're mirror images of each other.

Michael Keaton has an edge about him. (...) [He] has a maniacal quality that Nicholson has, the same craziness going on in the eyes. (People, 1989)

In Gothic stories the characters are like vampires or phantoms and we see them only through the eyes of other, normal people. And he's a mystery. He sleeps upside down, sits alone in the dark and stays away from people, living in a castle with only a butler. He's a perfect Gothic character, in many ways similar to and as interesting as Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Elfman's score filters Hermannesque themes through a Gothic sensibility and the result is heroic and sinister all at once.

Tim Burton: Him sort of roaming around at night was an interesting moment cause again it was like ..it felt very lonely to me, you know what I mean, it was just like this guy cruising the streets you kind of get that impression [that] he's kind of accepted but no one is rushing out to say hi, it's sort of this low rumble, you can imagine people kind of looking out their windows going "oh jeez", "oh-oh", "be quiet" (BR Commentary)


Where there was a hint of Batman's disturbing duality in the 1989 film, that agitation is enlarged for the sequel and pitted against Catwoman as his ideal mate, both psychotically and sartorially (Columbus Dispatch, June 1992)

Bruce is a solitary man, tarnished by internal demons. We never get to understand him or know him, but this time he finds hope in Selina. He sees her as a fellow tarnished soul who is hurting inside like he does, someone who is also a torn apart outsider. She was his bride of Frankestein.

"We can go home...together. Selina...don't you see? We're the same. Split. Wrecked in the center". This is a big growth of character for him. This is the first tie he opened up. With Vicky, he was always dismissive of her and she was always secondary to his crime fighting. This is why they split, because she couldn't deal with his dual personality and life. But with Selina, it's the first time he thought of hanging up the cape and leading a semi-normal life. After all these years of internal pain and revenge driven life, he meets someone who is hurting as much as he does inside, and also as fractured, someone who shares the pain - someone who understands. This is exactly the same thing as with the Frankenstein monster - he was an outsider who was hurting and all he wanted was just one person in the world who understood him, one person like him, to talk to and to spend his life with. And Selina was this Bride of Frankenstein for Bruce.


Bruce's story ends on a down note. He briefly experienced happiness and excitement through meeting Selina who shared so much with him, and he lost her. In the last scene that features Bruce, he is going home on Christmas eve. Sad, lonely and thinking about the love he lost, only with Alfred keeping him company on the evening where families and lovers share their time together.


This version of Batman is consistent in what we have seen in the first movie, which was going back to the roots when Batman was 'randomly killing criminals' (Batman: The Complete History)

Keaton's Batman could be quite cruel, killing – or, in the case of the Fire Breather, maiming – a few henchmen in Burton's two films. Later, he straps a bomb to a tattooed strongman, which explodes and kills him. – IGN



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Michelle Pfeiffer: I read the script and I found she was just very ..actually, more complicated than I could have even imagined, sort of psychologically.

Catwoman's costume symbolizes her patchy and fragmented personality. Selina Kyle is another tragic character in the story. Sincere and good at heart, Selina is too naive and polite and because of that, she's getting pushed around and cannot find anyone who would be interested in her. She lives alone with her cats and refers to herself as pathetic, yet still manages to force herself to keep her head high. While her life leaves much to desire, it's only getting worse when she's getting pushed out of the window. She finally breaks and her personality becomes distorted. She becomes a tough, sexy and smart character, but it's all a cover that she even puts in front of herself because we can still see her pain occasionally, mainly when she's blindly staring at the Christmas displays.
Catwoman is just as conflicted as Penguin and Batman. The audience first sees Catwoman as Selina Kyle, a meek secretary who is constantly abused by those around her. She likely would have stayed a timid individual had she not gotten pushed out a window. After falling out of the window Selina returns home and the audience now witnesses the greatest psychological scene in the whole film. Selina completely snaps and begins destroying her apartment, the apartment that has oppressed her just as much as everything else in her life. In the wake of this mental breakdown Catwoman is born, a persona that is the polar opposite of Selina Kyle. While Selina is meek and timid, Catwoman is ultra-liberated and completely comfortable with herself. After becoming Catwoman, Selina is now faced with the conflict of trying to rationalize two paradoxical sides to her identity. She seeks to embrace the confidence of Catwoman but maintain the moral goodness of Selina Kyle.

Tim Burton: It was a visual image of somebody being patched together. Somebody who's just fragmented mentally. As the movie goes on the costume unravels and she unravels (BR audio commentary)


One of the most emotional moments is when she finally breaks in front of Bruce during the party. She realizes that she loves Bruce but she also knows what a fractured mirror she had become, and as much as she would like to, the fairy tale-ish  happy ending was unrealistic. Catwoman is another character that doesn't get the happy ending to her story. She (allegedly) dies at the end, still alone, still hurting and with tears in her eyes.



The whole Catwoman plot of Batman Returns is not only independent of the Penguin plot, it’s in a different genre — it’s a love story in the middle of a superhero movie. (comicsbeat.com)

But this brisk, buoyant movie gets its emotional weight from an entirely other conflict: the tangle of opposites between--and within--two credible people. (Time 1992)

Meanwhile, Bat and Cat mate by exchanging flesh wounds, working out in costumed combat the sexual tension they can't quite confront when they meet as Bruce and Selina. Again as in Edward Scissorhands, it's the touch of love that hurts the most. (Tornoto Star, June 1992)

The portrayal of Selina Kyle as emotionally-repressed working girl, turned to pure id via mental breakdown, is one of the best in the history of the Batman universe. Equally, the tentative and ultimately doomed relationship between Batman/Bruce and Catwoman/Selina one-ups the often one-dimensional approach in the comics by being tragic and touching. The emotional depth and complexity is tied together by Selina's weary "Does this mean we have to start fighting?" at the masked ball. (Den of Geek) 

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The Penguin is born bad and is literally dumped into the sewers by his wealthy parents before the titles even unspool. This dark, twisted vision of villainy is shocking even by Batman Movie standards, and indicates that we’re headed somewhere very strange in Batman Returns.(comicsbeat.com)


Penguin was perhaps the best subplot and character of the movie. He was neither villain nor a good guy. He was  like Edward Scissorhands, someone rejected by his own parents and the society and forced to feel and act the certain way. While he is a cruel child murderer, his motivation was not greed. His motivation was not power. His motivation was personal pain of rejection. His goal was to kill the happy and loved first borns because he was feeling hurt for being rejected by his own parents and society, while other first borns were happily living with their families - something that life denied him.


Tim Burton: There really is a duality to that character. He's a bad kind of scary guy but there's sadness to this character as well, that’s what I like about it. You're feeling for him but he's pulling one on everybody. That kind of not knowing [whether to like him or not] again for me makes it more interesting (BR audio commentary)
Penguin is the pathetic flip side of the childlike title character of Edward Scissorhands, equally victimized but much more dangerous. As repellent as the character is, there is a trace of sorrow. (Columbus Dispatch, June 1992)



Look at the ark of that character — born evil, thrown out by his parents. Tries one scheme for revenge, gets sidetracked. In the middle of being sidetracked, gets sidetracked again. Is manipulated and used by others, then fails at his appointed tasks. Goes back to his original plan, then fails miserably. Decides to go out in a blaze of glory, then fails at that too. The Penguin’s story in Batman Returns is unbearably sad, and one feels like Batman is a bully for picking on this pathetic excuse for an evildoer. despite his monstrousness we feel for his rage, his animalism and lust for revenge. Who among us has not felt discarded and unloved, and has not sought revenge on the world to soothe our wounded souls (comicsbeat.com)

The pain was driving him and he blamed and channeled the pain of his rejection into society. He was just a twisted victim of life, and the scene showing his demise and "funeral" was very effective. He is yet another character whose story ends on a downbeat note. He still doesn't find happiness, he still isn't accepted, he ends up still hated by society, he doesn't have any kind of redemption and he dies in the cold sewers where he was abandoned.

Even Max Shreck, who is an all evil version of Donald Trump is a deeper character. Shreck was over confident and felt that he has too much power to die and never considered anythning to be a real threat to him, always thinking that he will come out on top. He wasn't even that afraid when he was kidnapped by Penguin. Max could've been simply shot or killed by one of Penguin's goons. And Max was still a wise ass even when Selina was holding him by his throat with her whip, expressing her desire to kill him. He just didn't believe he could be really hurt. At the same time he did have a huge love for his son Chip, and everything he was doing was doing for him.

LOOK AND SOUND

Tim Burton's movies are like a trip to the museum. While the first movie was filled with stunning Gothic designs mixed with the 1930's style, Batman Return's primary styles were Art Deco and German Expressionism. Even Batman's armor was decorated in Art Deco. In keeping with the expressionist desire to make films “moving paintings” Batman Returns is full of scenes that could easily stand alone as works of art

All of the film's warped psyches are poured into an even gloomier urban nightmare, as redesigned by Bo Welch (Columbus Dispatch, 1992)

Massive Deco-style buildings--a Rockefeller Center gone bats--stretch skyward to put heroes and villains in ironic perspective. "The movie is very vertical," says Welch, who also designed Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. "It goes from the penguin in the sewers to a flying rodent. So these are aggressive sets, not passive backdrops incidental to the action." The visual contrasts--big on little bright on brooding, snow on soot--give the film a distinct, witty style: Dark Lite.(Maclean's 1992)


The visuals rely heavily on the contrast of black, gray and white, with the occasional heavy accents from very bright rose red.

According to Heinrichs, who describes the new Gotham as Nazi architect ''Albert Speer with a little Dr. Suess thrown in,'' the approach reflects the expressionist influence that has surfaced in various Burton-Heinrichs collaborations dating back to their 1982 black-and-white short, VINCENT. ''German Expressionism has always been a great way of using light and shadow to make a visual statement. To a degree, we drained some of the colors in this movie to give the city a muted, more oppressive and claustrophobic quality. It's a way of visually adding subtlety.''


Tim Burton: With all the sets you wanna capture the character as well cause its part of the character . Its something we put a lot of thought into (BR Commentary)

Borrowing from sources like the Rockefeller Center and the neo-fascist World's Fair, Welch and the art directors concocted a phantasmagoric conglomerate of colorful decadence. ''We wanted Gotham to represent the old American city - rotted, corrupt, and full of character and life,'' he explains. ''There had to be the juxtaposition of old and new, and decay and fascism, like in Gotham Plaza where you have these poor citizens trying to celebrate Christmas with this beautiful 40-foot tree stuck in the middle of the dreariest, most imposing buildings we could fit on the sound stage.''
The music is very Operatic and sad, and because Batman Returns was more of a theater or Opera, almost every scene was scored and scored in that style. There's a use of Hammond organs and choir, with an occasional insert of  the sad music box melodies.


RATING


Sam Hamm: The movie itself was never presented as a child friendly movie. I just think it’s a mistake of perception, I think the parents who complained just got it wrong. There was no attempt to deceive anyone


Tim Burton's "Batman Returns," even more than the original "Batman," is a dark, brooding film, filled with hurt and fear, childhood wounds and festering adult resentments.(Roger Ebert, June 1992)
Some kids were led bawling from Batman Returns where the PG-13 rating was a joke (Roger Ebert, 1995)

A "parental backlash" criticized Batman Returns with violence and sexual references that were unsuitable for children. McDonald's shut down their Happy Meal tie-in for the film (Empire magazine)

The movie is gory and very bloody in places, but it's not even about just blood though - we see dismembered human parts. The villain is a deformed, black magma vomiting, finger rotting deformed child murderer from the sewers with twisted humor - someone who started killing children since he was a kid, responsible for mysterious disappearances in the circus. 


The movie is rated PG-13 but deserves an R for its sexual tension and implied horror. The abandonment of Penguin in the prologue and a later scene in which his minions kidnap the firstborn sons of Gotham's elite can be more terrifying to young minds than bullet holes or dirty words. (Columbus Dispatch, June 1992)

The Penguin (Danny de Vito) is a dark creation guaranteed to give your children nightmares. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is, uh, well, purr-fect.
There is real tension to this sequel as Tim Burton delves deep into biblical imagery to bring us a Penguin that wants to kill all Gotham City's firstborns for having scorned him (he well, uh, looks different - bit like a mutated Ebenezer Scrooge).
(scifimoviepage)
The Penguin character was so dark and hideous that Kenner refused to release him as a toy and released the comic book version instead in it's initial Batman Returns 1992 line


Then theres the whole sexuality thing - did we forget about Shreck and Penguin talking about "getting poontang" when getting the mayor title, or Penguin's insatiable sex drive - him saying that he would like to fill his image consultant's void, him talking about showing her his "French flipper trick", him talking about sexual charisma with Catwoman and referring to her as "just the pussy I been lookin for". 

" I would like to fill HER void"
The movie also focuses on 2 characters dressed in black leather and rubber playing secual games with each other


And then there's the plan of drowning little children in the cold sewers and Batman killing left and right, setting people on fire and blowing them up. And then the entire movie is very downbeat and ends on a very sad note for every character, all the set in a gloomy, wintery setting.
Batman Returns is a satirical, disturbing, gruesome fable, much more original than any sequel deserves to be. (Columbus Dispatch, June 1992)


Sam Hamm's screenplay is a joy of clever puns and wordplay. Let's be honest: this Batman is more suited for adults. It is simply too violent, too clever and too dark for your Saturday matinee audience.
(Scifimoviepage)

There are flashes of commercially oriented action and humor, but the over-all feeling is one of a languid depression sprung straight from the heart of its author.(Toronto Star, June 1989)

Denise Di Novi, Producer: It did have a darkness, and a complexity and a resonance that I think the audience at the times a lot of people didn’t expect. Now, it wasn’t just kind of a fun, cool comic book movie, it was something more than that

One of the things that fascinated Waters as the drafts came and went was the sense of horror that was seeping into the story’s text and subtext. It is an element that he claims will ultimately make Batman Returns a much darker, get under your skin experience than the first movie (Fangoria #114, 1992)

The boat ride in the sewer recalls Phantom of the Opera (1925), and the unmasking of Batman in front of Selena echoes Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin (rbmoviereviews) 

All this resulted in Tim Burton not being called for another sequel and McDonald's backing up from their deal.

McDONALDS CONTROVERSY 

Entertainment Weekly, July 1992: ' In packed movie theaters across America, you can sometimes hear the sound of small children crying. The culprit? The scary scenes in PG-13-rated box office juggernaut Batman Returns, which is rapidly passing the $100 million mark and which kids, lured by a massive ad campaign by McDonald's and diet Coke, are clamoring to see. The problem is that the Happy Meals that McDonald's offers as a tie-in to the Warner Bros. movie don't make clear the film's darker side — including the electrocution of a villain, circus clowns gunning down innocent victims, and the kidnapping and threatened murder of children.

Not surprisingly, many parents who have ignored the movie's rating (''Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers'') to take their young children to see Batman Returns are seeing red. Their complaints began hitting the media last week in a Batlash that's still growing. NBC reporter Faith Daniels was scheduled to devote the July 3 episode of her talk show, A Closer Look With Faith Daniels, to ''Parents Against Batman Returns.'' Adds Daniels, who refused to take her 5-year-old son to see the movie, ''It's fine to make Batman Returns an adult film, but don't market it to kids. It's rated PG-13, but who's buying the action toys? Not 13-year-olds.'' The Los Angeles Times published letters last week that protested ''one violent image after another.'' ''Has McDonald's no conscience?'' another letter asked. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based Dove Foundation, a nonsectarian Christian organization, has protested the McDonald's Happy Meal promotion, designed for children 1 to 10. ''Parents...trust McDonald's,'' says a Dove spokesman. ''So why is McDonald's promoting a movie to little kids that's filled with gratuitous graphic violence?''

McDonald's, stung by the criticism, is trying to downplay the connection between Batman Returns and the Happy Meal promotion, set to end this week. Says McDonald's spokeswoman Rebecca Caruso, ''The objective of the (Happy Meal) program was to allow young people to experience the fun of Batman the character. It was not designed to promote attendance at the movie. It was certainly not our intent to confuse parents or disappoint children.''

Warner Bros. also claims that the Happy Meal promotion isn't tied to the movie but to the 53-year-old Batman character. ''We were careful not to provide actual toys from the movie,'' says a Warner spokeswoman. She insists that Batman Returns is rated responsibly in comparison with other PG movies, like Hook and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which also were considered not suitable for young children. ''Clearly Batman is not meant for 5-year-olds. As for whether it's appropriate to Happy Meals, that's up to McDonald's. We don't tell them their business.''

But despite claims to the contrary, advertisers who wanted to ride along on Batman's cape wound up hawking the movie as well as their own products. And critics point out that selling Batman to the superyoung also promotes Warner's upcoming Batman cartoon show, debuting Sept. 7 on Fox. What's a parent to do? ''If I had small kids,'' says L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan, ''I wouldn't want them to see the movie.'''


There's also a common misconception that Batman Returns has little to do with the comic books, which is simply not true. It is removed no further than any other Batman movie when it comes to the villains and their origins than Batman Forever, Batman&Robin, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but more faithful in other areas - http://gothamalleys.blogspot.com/2011/08/comic-book-references-in-movies-part-ii.html. Still, whether it is faithful or not is irrelevant. In the long run, I being faithful to comics has anything to do with a quality movie.Being faithful to the source and quality are two completely different things which do not affect each other. The great late Stanley Kubrick's The Shining had little to do with the actual book, yet it's a masterpiece. However at the time of the release it fell victim of this misguided criticism, just like Batman Returns.

With the shear volume of superhero movies that have been produced in the last few years it can be easy to forget that there was once a time when only a few superhero movies were made and those few were expected to be fun, family-orientated, action-filled blockbusters. But Batman Returns went against all those expectations. Thanks to the vision of Tim Burton and his love of German expressionist cinema, Batman Returns ended up being something more then just superficial entertainment, it became art, it became a film with a deeper purpose and that trend has carried over into the current superhero films. Therefore it came be said that German expressionism not only helped shape Batman Returns, but helped shape the superhero movie genre as we now know it


Certain passages and information taken from http://www.batmanmovieonline.com/features.php?display=58 and http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978474138

17 comments:

  1. That was a fantastic read. I look forward to more.

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  2. Great movie, i saw it when i was 10 years old and loved it as much as the first one. Too bad Schumacher crapped on the franchise but Nolan saved it.

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  3. Awesome. I just rewatched this last summer, and I have to admit that it is a pretty revolutionary script. Its something fresh and different. Bizarrely creative. Also, Selina Kyle is an amazing character. Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer have a sexual tension that is so hot you could melt butter on it. The party scene is amazing. Simply an awesome, gothic fairy-tale

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  4. Great article. Thanks. I realized that there was some controversy over this movie, but I didn't know that it was this greatly blown out of proportion. It really explains a lot, particularly why most PG-13 movies today are so God damn sterile. It's weird how back in the '80s, someone could make a toy line and TV shows for children based on hard R-rated movies like "The Toxic Avenger" (which I think was actually X) and "RoboCop" (which was originally trimmed to avoid an X). Another interesting side note about the movie is the fact that it depicts Catwoman as a zombie. I think Burton was trying to make a satirical point about American standards of beauty with her character. Here's a woman who is very thin, very pale, and is a walking corpse. I think the point is driven home even further in a scene where someone says to the Penguin, "There's some *body* here to see you," a triple entendre referring to Catwoman. Ironically, this movie made Michelle Pfeiffer an over night sex symbol. "Batman Returns" must have been the highest grossing movie about necrophilia ever before "Twilight" hit.

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  5. Zombie? Not sure. Burton's Batman movies might have been like Bizarro world but they never involved supernatural. I think it was more of a cartoon-like portrayal, Catwoman was immune to bullet hits to surprise of others in the early comic books too. Besides, Selina showed human emotions at the party and by the end

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  6. When I say "zombie," I'm using an early definition of the word, which is simply: "a reanimated corpse." Selina was killed when Max pushed her out that window, and those cats that surrounded her "magically" reanimated her. She obviously wasn't a conventional Romeroesque shambling flesh eater, but do believe the word "zombie" technically applies to her. You claim that Burton's Batman movies never involved the supernatural, but can you provide a "natural" explanation for those cats resurrecting Selina? That whole sequence certainly looked supernatural to me. I admittedly don't know a lot about cats, but I'm pretty sure they don't do that.

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    1. The whole thing was intentionally played as ambiguous - did she really die, or was the whole thing a psychotic delusion brought about by both her inner conflict and the trauma caused by her fall? If you've noticed, her fall was broken by a few things and she landed on a pile of snow. Also, all the other "deaths" that she endured throughout the film were non-fatal (she landed in Kitty Litter, she landed on her back in the greenhouse, and Max shot her in her arms and legs, which would incapacitate her, not kill her. The ambiguity comes back with the electrocution, but notice how the camera pans out and never actually depicts Selina's fate...

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  7. Im on the fence with that. I never assumed it was anything supernatural, but it's hard not to think twice. Most of the things can be shoe horned into reality, but the fact that she survived electrocution and recovered so relatively soon from so many shot wounds is the biggest head scratcher. Also, as one of the posters said, the original 1940's Catwoman did indeed have 9 lives

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  8. Well she WAS pale like a dead person since the fall and knowing Burton's passion for reanimated corpses (Corpse's Bride, Beetlejuice), I wouldnt rule it out that she's one too

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  9. If she would really die than it would have been more obvious. Instead we see her fall slowed down a couple of times. Sorry for my english

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  10. my favourite of the Batman movies to date. for all the praise heaped on the Nolan movies - & don't get me wrong here, I really like the Nolan movies - , I can't help but feel that they lack the one element that I regard as essential to good Batman: they're not a lot of fun. they're good movies, but they take themselves and their subject matter far too seriously. the Dark Knight, in particular, I think, falls short in this respect. in a movie that features the Joker as a central character, where are the laughs? Batman Returns succeeds for exactly the same reason that the first two Superman films succeed. Burton, Keaton, DeVito, and Pfieffer are all only too well aware of the absurdity of what they're doing, and they do it with such relish that Batman Returns becomes a joy to behold

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  11. This is what made the Burton Batman so great. It took the source material seriously, had the deep psychological stuff for the older fans that take the comics too seriously, and it also had the fun, over the top stuff for the people who grew up on the more fun, pre-80s grim and gritty stuff that came later

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  12. I first saw this movie when I was in grade school, and now I am an adult and still haven't forgotten how wonderful this movie is! It is sexy, funny, dark, full of action and sadness. I watch this movie every year nearing Christmas. ;)

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  13. Nicely written. Returns is without a doubt one of the best Expressionist films and the best modern expressionist movie

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  14. STANDING OVATION!

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  15. joe bloe i totally agree. i grew up watching the burton batmans, and i dont think i ever got that scared of the movie, honestly. it wasnt until i watched this movie again years later on videotape, early 2000's i think, that i started to see the emotional aspect of the film. and it did touch me. a few days ago it was the 20th anniversary of this great film (hard to believe its been that long!) and its become a classic. its also great that they used the same batmobile from the first instead of haveing a different batmobile like in the sequels. its an interesting film, no doubt. its a commercial "art" film. its got the action and adventure one would expect of batman, but its also incredibly unique from anything your likely to see in the comic books. its not a film for everyone, like many of kubricks movies, but that doesnt stop it from being a great movie as well as a great batman movie too. the casting in this movie was superb. michelle pfieffer as catwoman...yeesh! what a hottie, but also the most emotional character. her scenes with bruce at the ball, when he wipes away her tear, its so touching and poignant. this movie started my fascination with her. i love this movie. i dont know how you can be a batman fan and not like this movie. i also love most of tim burtons movies as a result. hes a classic director, but he takes risks as well. thats why i like him. i still hope he makes his batman 3. i also agree that the actors look like they are haveing a great time. these older batmans were great cuz they were being serious while at the same time able to have fun with it. the new ones just bore the living hell outta me, and its made batman fans into the most arrogant SOB's ive ever had the displeasure of dealing with on forums and the like, even in real life.

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  16. also to add, i loved the artwork for the original batman films, like the promotional artwork. its actually pretty amazing looking, like the artist really put some time and effort into the illustrations. you dont see that anymore, sadly.

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