The "R" Rated Joker
I just wanted to address something really quick. The Joker from Batman is arguably one of the most deranged and evil villains ever conceived. He is truly chaos incarnate, and is a prime example of how someone can be insane and yet a total genius at the same time. I didn’t really catch on to the extent of his cruelty until I watched The Dark Knight, which painted a picture of him as real and human like he’s never been depicted before. The Joker’s character is said to have been created after the makers watched the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs. Word around the campfire is that it has been difficult on the actors who have portrayed The Joker, because in order to pull off the role, they have to get inside the mind of The Joker. This is easier said than done because getting into the mind of a character that is so dark mentally takes actors to a place no one should have to go.
Heath Ledger did this so well that the audience didn’t see an actor anymore, they saw The Joker. The creators of The Dark Knight got upset when people suggested a connection between Heath’s death with his flawless role of The Joker, but I don’t think it’s an insult to suggest that there might have been a slight connection. Art can be a dangerous thing sometimes. Knowing the depravity of the character, I have always found it to be interesting that The Joker has never been depicted on film with a rating higher than PG-13. I understand with him being a DC character that DC Comics would frown on creating an ‘R’ rated Batman or Joker movie because they would just hate to break the hearts of all the kids who wouldn’t be able to see a comic book related film without a guardian. Boo-freakin-hoo. I think kids would get over it. This guy could hold his own with Jigsaw or Jason or Freddy any day of the week, but he cannot be shown to his full potential because he is cursed to a world of PG-13-ity.
At least that’s what I thought…
Then I watched the Japanese 2001 Takashi Miike directed film Ichi The Killer. I don’t recommend this film to anyone. It’s stupid violent, and pretty much every scene has something throw-up worthy in it. After I watched this film I had to take two back-to-back showers in which I used the new Dove Men + Care “Deep Clean” bar. You gotta protect the ‘man-hide.’
Anyway, there is a character in this uber-violent film named Kakihara, who steals the show. It wasn’t until after I finished the movie that it hit me like a sack of potatoes; Kakihara is a real life ‘R’ rated interpretation of The Joker, and without a doubt a significant source of inspiration for Chris Nolan’s version. The similarities are too potent to be coincidence. Here is a list of similarities.
1) Kakihara’s face is marked up with scars that were most likely self-induced. Of these scars, he has large cuts on both sides of his mouth just like Heath. The only difference is that Kakihara’s cuts have not healed and he uses piercings on both sides of his face to keep his mouth the normal size.
2) Kakihara has dyed hair just like every version of the Joker. His is bleached blonde, but dyed non-the-less.
3) Kakihara dresses over the top flamboyantly, just like the Joker. He isn’t dressed like a jester, per say, but he dresses the way The Joker would look if he wasn’t trying to look like The Joker.
4) Their motivation is also the same. Kakihara is not motived by money, sex, or power. He is evil not for the same reasons that most people are evil, and his motivation is not something we are able to fully understand; just like The Joker.
5) They both have similar character traits. Kakihara is a raging sadomasochist. One of the only things that brings him satisfaction is making others feel pain, and experiencing pain himself. That is the one motivator you can put a lock on. The Joker needs Batman because he is the one person who legitimately stands in his way and knows how to hurt him, which the Joker likes because he likes pain whether it’s physical or emotional. Kakihara desperately searches for his missing boss because he was the only person who knew how to truly hurt Kakihara. He desperately misses the pain he used to inflict on him.
6) At the end of The Dark Knight The Joker falls off the side of a building and he does not know he is going to be saved by Batman. On his way down he is laughing hysterically and enjoying every second of his death plummet. He loves that fact that he finally is going to be killed and defeated, and he enjoys the fact that he has pushed Batman to the point where he would kill someone. Kakihara, at the end of Ichi The Killer, is pushed off a building by Ichi, and on his way down he also laughs hysterically and gets a euphoric feeling as he falls to his death which is the ultimate infliction of pain.
Long story short, there is a depiction of The Joker in an ‘R’ rated movie that I feel does an almost perfect job showing in vivid detail what this iconic character would truly be like. I still would not recommend anyone watch Ichi the Killer, but there it is. But if you are feeling particularly froggy, go ahead and give it a try, but make sure that before you do, you stock up on lots of Dove soap…Deep Clean.
Always dream, always create,