The Joker is set in a fictional city called Gotham. The film is representational because it depicts the challenges faced by people with mental issues and the effects of corruption on a city. It is about a failed comedian who experiences mental issues that affect the way he interacts with people. The movie producer wanted to depict a city that oppresses Arthur Fleck, the main character, to help bring out the best version of the Joker (Gross). The film was written and produced by Todd Phillips for Warner Bros. Pictures.
It is the 1980s, and Gotham is a city full of crime as a result of high unemployment rates. Arthur Fleck lives with his mother, Penny, who requires constant care. Arthur suffers from a mental illness that forces him to laugh uncontrollably at unsuitable times. He is dependent on the city social services for medication. He murders three men who had attacked him in an alley, and the mayor of the city condemns the killings. This inspires a riot against the rich, with the protesters wearing clown masks that resemble Arthur’s face. Funding cuts by the mayor forced the social services program to be closed down, which denies Arthur essential medication. He is invited to a stand-up routine in his idol, Murray Franklin’s show but fails terribly after he bursts into laughter and is unable to tell jokes. He is invited into the show again but murders Randall and Murray during the show, which acts as a catalyst for riots in the whole city.
The creator of the film identified 1981 as the best period to use since Gotham city was to be a city full of crime and poor neighborhoods. The production team mapped areas around the country that would suit the idea that they wanted to create. The team settled in New York City, specifically the South Bronx area (Gross). This is because the topography of the place is hilly with inter-building stairways and back alleys, which create a maze-like effect (Gross). This location suited the idea of the movie because the buildings looked dilapidated, and the trains made creaking noises. The location is essential in any film as it helps bring out the best of the character.
An analysis of the film shows that the Joker takes the role of an unreliable narrator. The actions witnessed within the movie are not always real and may be taking place within the head of the Joker. The team also uses dialogue to indicate the character of the Joker. For example, in the first line, the Joker says that “I believe, what does not kill you, simply makes you…stranger” (Gross). Editing also plays a part in the development of characters. During the creation of the movie, the editing team evaluated the best shots to use in different scenes. The Joker made the work of the team easy as he was able to manipulate his body and face to suit the scene they were shooting.
The film production team played with the color scheme in different sets to illustrate different ideas. For example, in the apartment where Arthur stays, the crew used blue light to illustrate his loneliness. Also, the use of cyan, slightly green tungsten light, white-yellow light, and daylight helped create color contrasts that made the city appear alive even with its messiness. In depicting Gotham city streets, the colors are muted and desaturated with a shallow layer to indicate a lack of care (Pyle 106).
Since the film’s main character does not possess superpowers that defy the laws of nature and physics, the team used sound and visual effects to portray Joker’s mental issues. An important part of the movie is Gotham city, and the sound effects had to match the concept that the city is noisy, dirty, and gritty. There are distinct sounds that point to the way the infrastructure of the city is worn out and dilapidated (Gross). Also, the film applies voice effects that induce fear and agony. In one of the scenes, Joker’s hands can be heard running over a child’s paintings which is disturbing. This helps raise the tension in the movie. The sound effects in the movie help bring out the character of the Joker and assist the viewers to understand what he is going through at that particular moment.
Visual effects are used to portray the city as old and worn out. The movie was set in 1981, and the directors wanted to capture the grittiness of the city and the harsh environment. Most scenes in the movie start with a sense of normalcy before the scenes develop into intense action that is gripping and exciting to the viewer (Pyle 107). Visual effects of a worn-out and dilapidated city provide the viewer with the idea that the city is on the verge of collapse. Sirens and constant yelling depict a city that is never silent. This is important as it shows the kind of environment the Joker interacts with.
The film uses a camera with wider lenses and an angle that is close to the actor. However, at the start of the film, the camera used has a longer lens and is further away from the Joker. This may be used to show how insignificant the character is in the beginning parts of the movie (Pyle 105). The camera movements were hand-held as it allowed the crew to adjust if the character made any adjustments during acting (Warner Bros. Entertainment).
The team adopts wider lenses that are placed closer to the actor. This helps draw the audience towards the intense action happening on the screen. The team avoided eye-level camera angles and instead opted for high and low camera angles to provide the best depiction of the characters. In one of the scenes where Arthur is walking in with Sophie, the camera is extremely low on Arthur when he is at the door but as soon as they walk in, the camera tilts up.
The lighting effects on the Joker at the start of the movie are brighter. The director intends to show the way Arthur started as a good hardworking person. As the character changes to the Joker, the lighting effects change and become darker which is symbolic. The scenes of Arthur dancing after killing other characters in the film symbolize his decline into a maniacal character. When Randall gives the Joker a gun, it symbolizes empowerment for someone who has no power. Arthur is betrayed by people who are supposed to provide him with the help that will enable him to live a happier life (Gross). These acts of betrayal may be a way of showing how the less fortunate are disregarded by the people in power.
The Joker is a symbolic film that uses the crown as the central character. The film is representational as it highlights mental issues, and how society neglects mentally ill people. The mood in the film is that of a supervillain who suffers at the hands of society and decides to exert revenge on the people who betrayed him. The film is interesting and exciting and would be appropriate for viewing because of the way it presents the story of the Joker.
Gross, Terry. “‘The System’s Broken’ and ‘Joker’ Director Aimed to Explore that on Screen.” National Public Radio. 2020. Web.
Pyle, Christian L. Review of Joker. Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 14 no. 1, 2021, p. 104-108. Web.
Warner Bros. Entertainment. “Joker | Behind the Scenes with Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Philips | Warner Bros. Entertainment.” YouTube, uploaded by Warner Bros. Entertainment. 2020. Web.