Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Joker's Origins

Batman creator Bob Kane used Conrad Veidt's [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Casablanca (1942)] portrayal in The Man Who Laughs (1928) as inspiration for The Joker. Veidt plays Gwynplaine who, as a young boy, has a permanent smile carved on his face by the King. Unfortunately, there are no superheroes to put things right.

A comment made by another blogger has made me want to add to this post. He mentions the decline of importance and respect that old films previously held with audiences, students, and art houses. He questions that the day when cinema's origins were deemed relevant and noteworthy may have passed. I mean what, really, is the benefit of knowing where one of Batman's most famous villains came from? Other than generating a nod of the head and a "Huh, that's interesting", what good is it? I don't know, but I like knowing it. It adds a depth and past to the character. He becomes an extension and new interpretation of a great idea, and proves that, if nothing else, looking back at what's been done before can trigger and encourage a new stomping ground of creativity and imagination.