Friday, August 14, 2015

Did The Joker kill Heath Ledger?

Rhetoric question, you may ask. Did I hear someone say "absurd"? You may even take offense to it. That’s exactly the way I felt when I heard about a new documentary titled “Heath Ledger: Too Young to Die”.

I am a big fan of the Batman trilogy. I am a fan of Christopher Nolan. And a huge fan of “The Joker” character from “The Dark Knight”. Joker is the only reason why I love watching the movie again and again. Heath Ledger took the character to a level where, I felt, that Joker was the real hero rather than Batman. His presence lit up the screen and his next move was always a surprise / shock. The dialogue delivery, the make-up, the laugh and other expressions made The Dark Knight a must watch – many times! And the fact that we didn’t see the actual death of the character prompted me to believe that Nolan will bring him back in the 3rd edition “The Dark Knight Rises”. However, that was not to be; primarily, for reasons well known to all of us.

In one of the interviews in 2007, Heath Ledger said the following about his role and the preparation involved – “It's a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices - it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath - someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He's just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.

Now, we have a German documentary (yet to be released) that claims to reveal the details of the diary maintained by Heath Ledger. They claim the details in the diary are shocking and, perhaps, have a link with his eventual untimely death. Heath Ledger’s father is also part of this documentary which, some may believe, gives the documentary a certain amount of credibility.

From what I can gather, the documentary is totally based on two aspects of Heath Ledger’s life – 
  1. A diary maintained by Heath Ledger while he was preparing for his role as Joker. He was living inside a hotel room in London for almost a month trying to get into the much-acclaimed character. He practised with various voices, conceptualizing and interpreting the comic strips and developed that iconic laugh. All this has been jotted down on his diary with pictures etc. 
  2. Heath’s health Issue: If you read about his health issues on Wikipedia, you will realize that he had sleeping issues and would usually fall back on medications. The autopsy report also suggests the same as the possible cause of his death. 

Health Ledger documentary - Too Early to Die - screenshots

Add 2 and 2 together and you get a probable conspiracy theory, which is what, I think, has been highlighted in the documentary. Personally, I don’t want to believe the documentary, especially the emotional side of me. If the sacrifice for making an iconic, epic, memorable and once-in-a-lifetime character was one's own life, I would have been content with the “scarecrow” and “Bane” type of villains (no offence to these characters) for Batman trilogy with Heath Ledger alive and kicking. If the documentary starts making sense, then Heath has literally sacrificed everything, even his own life, for his role as The Joker. 

I will sign out using one of Joker's most memorable quotes -
Joker Quote We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us

Long live ‘The Joker’. Long live Heath Ledger. His legacy lives on, with / without documentary.

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