The most powerful texts affect their audience through sophisticated structure
It is human nature to reach our limits and ‘explode’ out, Todd Phillip’s psychological thriller ‘Joker 2019’ effectively uses sophisticated structure to show how the protagonist reaches his limit. This powerful text deliberately uses a sophisticated structure in such a way that the audience emphasise with Arthur and feel disappointed yet understanding when we see how he reacts. This affects the audience as it brings them through such a range of emotions so that this film encourages them to think and remains with them long after watching it. For a text to be powerful it needs to leave the audience thinking about it afterwards. I strongly agree that the most powerful texts affect their audience through sophisticated structure.
Throughout “Joker 2019” we watch as a mentally young man Arthur, transitions into the Joker. Initially he is beaten down and abandoned by his society until he reaches the point where he strikes back killing three rich young men (called the Wayne brothers) on the subway after they harras him. This initiates a citywide riot throughout Gotham City in 1981, a fictional city based off New York from the same time frame.
Rising action towards the start of the film illustrates how society treats Arthur. A long shot reveals Arthur dancing with a sign as a hired clown, and having his sign broken and stolen by young boys. He chases after these boys before being relentlesslessly beaten by them in an alleyway with dialogue of ‘c’mon this guy’s weak he can’t do nothing’ and a camera zooming out as Arthur lies injured on the ground illustrating how society treats Arthur. They think he is weak and useless, and constantly walk away from him when he most needs help. This pulls on the audience’s heartstrings and makes them emphasise with Arthur, encouraging them to wonder why society can’t just leave him to enjoy his job? This contributes to how powerful this text is and because it not only puts the audience on edge for what is to come but also gets them fully on Arthurs side to begin. Phillips deliberately starts the rising action like this so that as the film progresses the audience understand the origins of Joker, and understand that if Arthur had just been treated well initially then everything could have been avoided.
Phillips continues to develop tension right up until the climax of the film. He deliberately develops tension through the use of haunting slow music as Arthur sits in the subway clueing the audience in that something bad is going to happen. Point of view editing between the Wayne brothers harassing a young girl and Arthur’s reactions of uncontrollable laughter puts the audience on the end of their seats as they wait for something to happen, Phillips drags this tension out with the digetic sound of slow taunting of these Wayne brother singing to Arthur asking him ‘where are the clowns’ as they slowly walk towards him. This dialogue is deliberately used by Phillips as the audience can later connect this phrase to the end of the film where Arthur is surrounded by clowns who all aspire to be like him. However, at this time of the movie this helps contribute to the tension that Phillips is creating, as the eerie singing builds up anticipation within the audience. The Wayne Brothers then attack Arthur shown through a long shot of Arthur huddled on the ground as they kick him, directly mirroring the start of the film where Arthur was initially beaten, however this time Arthur doesn’t lie there and take it, he pulls out his gun and shoot two of the men dead before Phillips develops more tension through non-diegetic dramatic music as Arthur chases after the last man eventually shooting him dead too. Phillips develops this tension during in the climax of the film to capture the audience’s attention and provide vivid scenes which will forever remain in their memories, making ‘Joker’ a powerful unforgettable text.
Sophisticated structure is evidently present in how Phillips portrays the ending of the film. At the end of the film an eerie long shot reveals Arthur dancing on the hood of a car, surrounded by fans in graphic clown masks with sirens and fire raging throughout the city. Phillips affects the audience during this scene as it illustrates to the audience how even though we want everything to end up well and happy, and in some ways expect the movie to end with society improving and accepting people like Arthur, this movie presents to us the cruel truth of reality. Arthur does end up liked and accepted but at what cost? The director deliberately ended the movie this way to make the audience wonder, is being accepted really worth it if he had to change what type of person he was, and influence people to be violent? As a society we are naturally judgemental and struggle to accept people who we find ‘different’, while society is slowly improving with various petitions like Black Lives Matter receiving international attention, this movie makes us question is it enough? Are we improving quickly enough when there are still so many people like Arthur being neglected, ‘Joker’ provided us with an extreme example of what could happen if we continue to treat people this way which is exemplified through the sophisticated structure and haunting scenes which will forever remain engrained in the memories of the audience.
Joker is a haunting powerful text which remains with the audience long after watching. This movie is so powerful because of the way Phillips carefully crafted the sophisticated structure in such a way that the audiences’ attention never wavered. Through tense rising action, a dramatic climax and an unforgettable ending Phillips captures the audience’s attention throughout the whole text and keeps the audience thinking about how we can improve society to prevent such disasters happening in our own lives. ‘Joker’ is an extremely powerful text which triggers the audiences emotions very effectively throughout the whole film due to incredibly sophisticated structure.