Dorothy Allison wrote, "Things come apart so easily when they are held together by lies."
"The Dark Knight Rises" illustrates this point well.
It is eight years since the ending of "The Dark Knight." Gotham City is in a state of peace. Harvey Dent, who died at the end of the previous movie, became a symbol for the city. A law, called the Dent Act, empowered the police to get the criminal element off the streets and put them away for life with no parole.
Harvey Dent is thus the city symbol for civility and resolve. And it is all a lie.
At the end of the last movie, "The Dark Knight," Dent became the villain Two Face. He was about to kill Police Commissioner Gordon's son when Batman (Christian Bale) intervened, killing Dent. Dent's death was blamed on Batman.
In the present day, Batman is gone and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, now is a recluse. No one has seen Wayne in years. Talk is he has become like Howard Hughes, with long fingernails and hair.
Wayne is ruing the death of his love, Rachel Dawes, murdered in the last movie. Wayne believes Rachel was to wed him, but Alfred (Michael Caine) knows the truth: Rachel had no intention of marrying Bruce. She chose Dent.
As this movie begins, the city is celebrating years of peace, but things change.
This begins with the introduction of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar. She steals pearls that belonged to Bruce's mother, and she steals Bruce's fingerprints from the safe's surface – prints wanted by a financial rival to Wayne Enterprises.
Another introduction to the story is Bane (Tom Hardy), thought to be a mercenary. Word is that Bane was once part of the League of Shadows, the group that Batman defeated in "Batman Begins."
Bane has plans for Gotham that break the peace – and the tissue of lies that were told of Harvey Dent.
Bane brings the city to its knees, and Bruce Wayne/Batman will have to endure much to defeat this foe bent on wiping Gotham from the map. Bruce will also have to face the truth. And as my father loved to say, "The truth hurts."
Director Christopher Nolan ends his trilogy here. It has been a wondrous, wild ride. The stories are tightly held together. To understand the present, one must be versed in the past.
And Nolan pays off this attention with a story that satisfies in every way. It is finely layered, like a good novel, and should earn Oscar nominations.
Nolan tells us a story about what happens when we begin to do good and then get sidetracked looking for an easier way. His trilogy, and especially this movie, illustrates a line from a movie of long ago:
"Right way's the hardest, wrong way's the easiest. Rule of nature, like water seeks the path of least resistance. So you get crooked rivers, crooked men."
Nolan explores how the path of least resistance gets others in trouble, how it gives us a chance to lie. And even a lie told for the greater good can cause as much trouble as a lie told for the worst reasons.
"The Dark Knight Rises" is about so much more than a comic-book hero. Nolan gives us a meditation on what happens when you build from lies.
MikeParnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan (based on characters by Bob Kane)
Cast: Christian Bale: Bruce Wayne/Batman; Tom Hardy: Bane; Gary Oldham: Commissioner Gordon; Anne Hathaway: Selina Kyle; Michael Caine: Alfred Penniworth.