The end of a challenging text is where we learn the most.
As humans we are always striving to learn and discover new things. The ‘Joker 2019’ is a powerful film which challenges the audience throughout the whole text and teaches us many life lessons. For a text to be challenging it must make the audience think, make them feel uncomfortable or unsatisfied and be emotionally difficult to watch. In ‘Joker’ the ending scene reveals key messages and ideas that the director Todd Phillips had been developing throughout the whole text, which teach the audience many valuable lessons. I strongly agree that the end of a challenging text is where we learn the most.
Phillips begins the movie with diegetic cheery twinkling music that quickly cuts to tense diegetic music as Arthurs goes from dancing with a sign as a party clown to chasing after young hoodlums to get his sign back. He rounds a corner into an alleyway where they beat him, repeatedly kicking with the dialogue of ‘c’mon this guy’s weak’ competing with haunting eerie non diegetic music. Phillips deliberately begins the movie this way to illustrate that ‘Joker’ is going to be challenging for the audience to watch, and while its allowing Phillips to set the tone for the rest of the movie, this scene teaches the audience nothing. The audience learn that people find Arthur weak, and society as a whole does not care about him. While after finishing the film the audience can later connect this moment with moments that occurs all throughout and at the end of the movie to better understand the lessons Phillips was trying to teach, currently the audience are learning nothing with the movie purely providing slightly difficult to watch entertainment. This initial scene is so crucial to the film as it sets up the rest of the film up so that the lessons taught in this film can have their full impact.
Phillips continues to make the film a challenging watch during the end scene where a close up on Arthur’s face shows him drawing a smile with blood on his face. As an audience it is extremely challenging to watch such a graphic scene, but this close up is so essential as it teaches the audience many valuable lessons. This is a visual way of showing that hurt people, hurt people. The symbolism of blood shows that Arthur now has joy in his life but at what cost? Is his joy really worth the blood and pain of so many? This essential scene teaches the audience the invaluable lesson that if someone is hurting you, or other, they themselves are hurting inside. As shown through the bloody smile these people are so hurt that they only way to make themselves feel better is through hurting others. At the end of the film Phillips deliberately uses this graphic image which is difficult to watch to make the audience feel uncomfortable and unsatisfied so that the lesson of ‘hurt people hurt people’ is engrained into their memories because negative things are remembered more strongly than positive things.
Phillips continues to use the ending scene to trigger difficult emotions for the audience and allow them to learn the most. A long shot shows Arthur slow dancing on the hood of a car while fans dressed in clown masks cheer around him, as sirens rage and the city burns around them. This long shot is again difficult for the audience to watch, as seeing all this destruction is not easy for anyone and often triggers people to imagine difficult painful times in their own lives. Phillips deliberately uses this scene to manipulate the audience to feel this way, to allow the lessons taught in this scene to better stick. This scene teaches the audience that everything doesn’t always end up well, there is not always a good ending. This cruel truth is difficult for the audience to bear as we are used to, especially in media everything ending up well. This scene reveals to us that while Arthur looks like he has reached his goals of acceptance and adoration at what cost was it? Arthur had to change his whole personality and caused a whole city worth of damage so while in his mind it may have turned out well, the pain that he caused so many others is not worth it. This challenging scene is a crucial scene in this film that teaches a very important lesson to the audience that not everything always ends up alright.
It is in these ending scenes where we learn the most from this movie, ‘Joker’ is challenging for the audience to watch throughout the whole film, with the ending especially emphasising the key messages of ‘hurt people hurt people’ and that not everything will end up alright. ‘Joker 2019’. This key messages remains engrained in the audience’s memory for a long time after watching this film, because it is such a challenging film to watch.