Ringo Rösener: The Reality of Terror in Fictional Movies

Christopher Nolan’s »Dark Night Trilogy«

Audio File


The villains in Christopher Nolans »Dark Night Trilogy« are not simply criminals they are real terrorists. In his Batman films Nolan examines the threat of terrorism and its philosophical implications. Ever since the end of the Cold War and 9/11 terrorism is the most dangerous threat for worldwide civilizations. Still we have a lack in terms to describe its implications. Nolan seems to be aware of this problem and asks what it means when terror strikes our familiar life.

The terror is real in the Batman movies. Terror is presented as the completely renunciation of values, morals and laws. Terror wants chaos. Terror is the »radical evil« to use a phrase of Hannah Arendt who took it from Immanuel Kant in describing a form of inhumanity and a lack of thinking. But, Nolan’s terrorists can think. They are highly intelligent. By this it seems Nolan has acknowledged that the evil out of terror has a new quality. It is neither banal nor radical. By acknowledging this new quality we have to ask old questions anew or find new questions to deal with terror as a philosophical problem. Nolan tries to find these questions in a fictional way. »Batman Begins« asks why and how our moral life is responsible for the terror; »The Dark Night« asks what the implications are for our acting when terror undermines our capacity for practical reasoning, especially the categorical imperative; and »The Dark Night Rises« asks to what extend the concept of hope could be a solution or a part of the problem to deal with terror. In my talk I like to explain why this questions arise from the fictionalized reality of terror and to what extend Nolan’s fiction ask fundamental questions for our recent reality.


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