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Batman Begins and The Dark Night Review

For me, I have loved Batman since I was 3 because of its theme music before or after each TV episode (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qP-NglUeZU). At that time, I thought they were singing “Bad man, Bad man, Bad man, Bad man…” Ha! Ha! (Hey, make sense too, right??? Batman fights against the bad man / men!)

To me, Batman is a symbol which stands for masculinity, justice and mystery. His Batman suit --- masculinity; justice (that’s obvious) and mystery --- his black Batman suit, his black mask and his deep rusty voice (at night only!). As a kid, I loved all those “Boom”, “Bang” and “Ouch” comic-like words on Batman. It’s fun and cool to watch!

For kids, I think when they see someone like Batman, in a cool outfit and with all those “muscles”, they think he must be someone who can protect them and save them from the bad guys. Therefore, it’s quite natural for them to idolize him. Kids are always crazy about Batman’s hi-tech gadgets, his powerful and secret weapons, his super cool and his multi-functioned Batman car.

Yesterday night, after watching Batman Begins, I thought may be I could use some parts of the movie to teach vocabulary and pronunciation, to set up a picture dictation --- draw their own Batman and dictate their partner to draw the same --- giving and following instructions, picture description --- draw their own Batman with different gadgets and weapons, and ask them to describe their own Batman afterwards to the whole class --- presentation skills.

In Batman Begins, we know why Bruce Wayne (Christine Bale) had a fear of bats, and why and how he created another identity for himself --- Batman. As in any other super hero movies or comics, it is essential to give yourself a new identity --- your “day-time” identity is just a cover up. So, we could use these parts of the movies and ask students (kids, teens and adults) questions like, “What do you afraid of? Spiders, Cockroaches, your mom or ghost?, What is your fear? Loosing your best friend? Failing your tests or exams? Loosing your jobs? No money? No husband? and many other questions related to their real life. Then, of course, the MOST IMPORTANT follow up question would be “What’s the BEST WAY to say bye bye to our fear?” (for kids), “What’s the BEST WAY to overcome our fear?” (for teens and adults), and the perfect answer would be “We have to FACE our fear(s).” From there, we could divide students in pairs, and ask each student to write their FEAR to their partner. Then, that partner needs to try to come up with an idea or a solution to help that person to FACE THAT FEAR. The target language for this activity is modal verb “should” --- giving and asking for advice. For executive / spiritual coaching, we could ask participants if they have to put on a “mask” (like Batman or Joker) when they go to work OR if they need to put on “different masks” for different situations. Also, in the movie, there’s this quote, “Anger gives you great power, but if you don’t control it, it will destroy you.” The executive / spiritual coach could ask participants their experience with “anger”, how do they deal with it and have they ever being controlled by their own anger.

Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knights are definitely not just about the good guys beating up the bad guys, but it’s more about the HUMAN side of a super hero. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is just like you and me; he has his own set of core values and beliefs. For example, when the Ninja Master and his mentor asked him to kill a murderer, he simply refused by saying, “I’m not an executioner.” Compassion is what separates him from others. We could use that to teach teenagers and adults some core values and beliefs in and about life. We could ask them questions like, “What makes us different from others?”, “Are we always doing the right thing?”, “How do we know we’re doing the right thing?”, “Who sets the moral standard?”

In The Dark Knights, it tells us we have to know our limit and weakness, or others would use it against us --- reveal the DARK SIDE in us. In the movie, that’s how Joker wants to show and tell everybody that even someone is as good as Harvey Dent (the DA / Two Face) could fall. It’s easy to turn a white knight into a bad guy --- just a little push! Yes, we all have a DARK SIDE! We all have hidden agendas. Admit it! But most of the time, our dark side won’t show until we’re being triggered or tempted. I would highly recommend personal or spiritual coach to use this movie to explore the “dark side” issue. For example, after Harvey Dent turned into Two Face, we could ask participants these questions : “What’s your strength?”, “What’s your weakness?”, “Do you have a limit?”, “What you can’t or won’t do?”, “What you can or will do if you’re desperate or being tempted?”, “Do we all have a dark side?”, “What’s your dark side?”, How did you know that it was your dark side?”, “Did you feel bad or even ashamed afterwards”…

We are always forced to make a decision especially when we are under pressure. Just like Batman needs to choose either save Rachel or Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. As a teacher, we could check with our teenagers and adults, and see if they have a similar experience --- choose between two things or two situations. For example, for teens, we could ask them to choose between studying overseas and continuing their relationship with their high school sweetheart in Hong Kong. And for adults, we could ask them to choose between a happy family and a high ranking job. Of course, they have to tell us their choice, why and how they make that decision. Then, through all those “If…” hypothetic questions, we could teach the 3 common “If…” conditional structure, especially the “If I would have + past participle”

Joker said “And tonight, you’re gonna break your one rule.” and “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.” in The Dark Knight. This is another very interesting topic that we could explore with teenagers and adults. We could ask them what kind of rules they must follow at school, at work and at home, which rule(s) they don’t like or want to break, and why. Then, we can set up a writing task by asking students to write 5 new rules for school, work and home. Afterwards, ask them to tell the whole class why they would create those new rules.

Thanks to the power of media, they created a huge pop icon like Joker (Heath Ledger), everybody will remember what and how he looks, how he talks and how he acts. Learning from a pure and conventional text book is never as fun and cool as watching a movie that is full of futuristic elements (and yet very familiar), good guys and bad guys, all kinds of chaos and an unexpected / sad ending . However, choosing the right movie for the right group of learners is extremely important. For example, The Dark Knight is actually a very complex and deep movie, with a lot of violence, crimes and corrupt, abuse of power and many other adult-elements which I don’t think the kids would understand or care.

Well, go and check out these 2 movies, and see if you agree with what I said!

Posted by Frances L Largent

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