Hence our attention lingers when the clip slows down. There are three such moments: Alfred comforting a forlorn Bruce Wayne by invoking Bruce’s childhood trauma, a boy singing the Star Spangled Banner, and then — the longest by far — an extended ballroom scene with a spectral Anne Hathaway whispering in Bruce Wayne’s ear: “You think this can last. There is a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” Class tension here is not only directly addressed but presented as the central threat to which Batman must respond. The next shots are of rioting prisoners and others chanting a phrase in a foreign language. What are they saying? “Rise,” we are told. Rise? Is this a working-class revolution we are being promised? When Hathaway’s character invokes inequality, the camera pulls in tight on Wayne’s face, allowing us a good look. His expression is confused, anguished — not the pique or fatigue you’d expect yet another villain to provoke. Instead, his face seems to entertain the possibility that she is already right: not about the coming storm but about how Bruce / Batman could have so much and have lived so well with this fact without making that face until now. QUESTION: If certain cities of the world were placed end to end in a straight line according to size, starting with Rome, where would Passaic be in that impossible progression? Each city would be a three-dimensional mirror that would reflect the next city into existence. The limits of eternity seem to contain such nefarious ideas. The last monument was a sand box or a model desert. Under the dead light of the Passaic afternoon the desert became a map of infinite disintegration and forgetfulness. This monument of minute particles blazed under a bleakly glowing sun, and suggested the sullen dissolution of entire continents, the drying up of oceans — no longer were there green forests and high mountains — all that existed were millions of grains of sand, a vast deposit of bones and stones pulverized into dust. Every grain of sand was a dead metaphor that equaled timelessness, and to decipher such metaphors would take one through the false mirror of eternity. This sand box somehow doubled as an open grave — a grave that children cheerfully play in.
[Note: Sources: Elliott Presse-Freeman and Sayres Rudy, “Batman Occupied”, at The New Inquiry, 19 Jul 012; JBR; Robert Smithson, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey”, as quoted in Michael Kelleher, “Aimless Reading: The S’s Part 37 (Robert Smithson)”, at Pearlblossom Highway, 21 Jul 012]