Legends of the Knight
Legends of the Knight 2014
It’s not so rare these days to find interesting projects looking for funding on Kickstarter, it is a bit more rare to find projects that actually catch my own personal interest. But when I heard about this project, I was happy to make it my first Kickstarter donation, giving $10 so I could get a digital download when it became available. This is a project by Brett Culp which takes a different look at Batman. It doesn’t look at the character himself, but instead takes a look at the impact that character has had on the world itself through a handful of people and their inspiring stories of how they take one part or another of Batman’s philosophy or his story as a whole and use it to improve their own lives and the lives of others. It is a documentary which takes a look at about a dozen people across the country who all have a strong connection to Batman in one way or another. Through a series of interviews and plenty of Batman artwork and children dressed up as Batman, we get to see a slice of these people’s lives and how Batman has made their lives better. You can view the trailer and find out more information at their official website.
I’ve seen a handful of these types of documentaries now and even though there’s not really a whole lot of innovation as far as the filmmaking itself goes, it’s really all about the stories, and I have to say that the stories presented in this just over an hour doc are all generally fascinating. It leads off with someone most connected to Hollywood and that version of Batman with Michael Uslan who was the executive producer on every Batman film: live action & animated since Tim Burton’s. He starts off talking about a speech he gave to a graduating class at West Point Acadamy that ended with the phrase “We are Batman” which is more or less the overall thesis of this doc. It’s a simple phrase, but it communicates the right kind of message that everyone can follow the principles that Batman represents and the ideals he stands up for.
Some of the more compelling stories are the few stories told about the people who have overcome their disabilities or diseases including a young boy who got to be Batman for a day before the huge event that popularized the name Batkid in San Francisco earlier this year. There’s also the story of Daniel Scott who is a man born with only one leg and three fingers on each hand which are situated similarly to the Ninja Turtle’s hands, yet he uses Batman as his inspiration to not let his disability hamper his quality of life. And there’s also a writer for The Mary Sue who was born with Muscular Dystrophy and yet lives and works independently in New York. They’re all presented with very little schmaltz, but instead are more straightforward, talking directly to these people and their friends while showing bits of their day to day lives as well as plenty of their Batman memorabilia.
The segments that interested me the most were the ones that focused on using Batman and comics to help with teaching. Before watching this doc, I had actually heard about the college course out there called, simply “Batman” which is actually a psychology course that helps break down several psychological ailments through the spectrum of Batman’s rogues gallery as well as Batman himself and his own psychological trauma. While the versions presented in the Batman comics are extreme and exaggerated, they are excellent windows into these problems and a way to help understand them. There’s also a great moment by Michael Uslan where he talks about getting his own comics course accredited where he relates the story of Superman to the story of Moses in order to show the parallels to the literature and mythology in comic books to those of the literature and mythology of the past.
The look of the film is excellent, while there is a lot of talking head style interviews, there’s not much actual time spent just watching people talk, it’s much more interactive with video of the people doing some of their day to day activities intercut with people drawing Batman artwork, children role playing dressed as Batman, and other Batman artwork. The score is also quite beautiful for the most part, but towards the end of the documentary it was starting to get a little repetitive. It really is a beautiful documentary that will make you appreciate Batman as a character, a story, a mythology, and an inspiration that much more if you hadn’t already. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.