Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - a Critical Review

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  • Topic: Batman, Batman: The Animated Series, Gotham City
  • Pages : 5 (1808 words )
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  • Published : July 5, 2005
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

This paper will break down the elements of the critical process using the three critical methods that were discussed in class. Also included in the paper will be the notes that were taken from the conversation I overheard at Hardees, about the movie "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" between Seiter, Thompson, and Meehan. This critique will discuss the several components to each of the three critical methods including cultural codes in the movie, gender roles, and advertisement placement with in the movie. Neo-Formalist

The syuzhet begins with the opening credits of the film showing Gotham city with a red backdrop as opera music plays in the background. Then the picture fades to black and then Batman appears on top of a building in front of the Shady Lady casino. A fight ensues, and later Batman is seen at the scene of the confrontation where he finds a piece of glass with some form of rare chemical on it, perhaps this is a form of compositional motivation-setting up something to come later in the film. This is also the first time in the film where Batman is accused of being a criminal (vigilante). The second time Batman is accused of being a criminal (vigilante) is in the very next scene when Councilman Reeves protests against Batman's usefulness against the criminals of the city. In the very next scene Reeves yet again describes Batman as a criminal (vigilante), but this time in the media. Thompson would agree that these patterns are a hermeneutic chain of events that pessimists (or an ideological critic) would ask about (why doesn't batman get into trouble from the police, or the courts?).

The fabula starts when Bruce Wayne starts to reminisce about the first day that he met Andrea. Wayne and Andrea met at the graveyard where both of their parents were buried, they started minor chitchat and Wayne falls for her. They go on a few dates and encounter a mugging in progress Bruce makes his decision to give up on his promise of protecting the city from evil, because he cannot be a crime fighter if he has someone waiting for him to come home. This starts another pattern in which the characters must choose between their love for each other and the promise they swore they would uphold in the event of their parents demise. Bruce and Andrea both make this decision at the end of the movie and neither of them picked love, both or them would rather be alone and uphold their morals and truths to themselves.

Semiotics
The first thing a sanitation would do would be to analyze the first word of the title "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" and all the signs associated with it. The signifier or the word "Batman" is an iconic sign, because everybody knows what or who Batman is or looks like. Sure different interpretations of him surface all the time but the costume remains relatively the same and his symbol never changes. The signified of the "Bat symbol" is also an iconic sign because everybody knows that it stands for Batman, distress, or even help. As Ellen Seiter says signs are the smallest unit of measure, and we are always translating signs into other signs. Another signifier is the casino name "The Shady Lady", which leads the viewer on a long thought process about the behavior that the women in Gotham city have. This film would be very easy to analyze using binary opposition, because of all the other forms the Batman franchise has. The movies differ quite drastically from the cartoon, and comic books. For instance Batman for sure kills the Joker and the Penguin in the first two movies, but in the comic books and cartoons Batman cannot kill off all the super villains because they need to resurface in later episodes and editions. Another difference between the movies, cartoons, and comics is the size, and physique of Bruce Wayne. Bruce is incredibly huge and muscular in the cartoons, while in the comics he is built and ripped, but not as massively large. It was interesting...
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