Gotham’s Pair of Clowns: Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson



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My peer review exhibits my proposed revisions to Lee Perlis’ essay about Ledger and Nicholson’s role as the Joker. My comments appear in red and I have crossed out some information that I believe should be removed.
Gotham’s Pair of Clowns: Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson
WellI warned him.” – Jack Nicholson

One word


Through out the decades of Batman’s reign of good (better word) over Gotham, the array of evil villains has only risen in complexity. More simple/attractive opening sentence The Joker, a role played by both Jack Nicholson (1989) and Heath Ledger (2008), has evolved as a character to be as complex as the storyline that contains him-How? For the actors that are tasked with portraying this on film, the role of the Joker can prove to be one worth a fair warning; a warning that Heath Ledger failed to properly yield, that cost costing him his life. In order to understand why the role of the Joker killed Heath Ledger but spared Jack Nicholson, the storyline in which each actor acted, along with the differences in the Joker himself in each role will be analyzed for their potential impact on the life and death of their respective actors.

Thesis is long and very redundant. Try to shorten & fix it up. Define your argument a little more – seems a bit vague.

Before analyzing the characters themselves, the acting habits of Ledger and Nicholson must be taken into account in order to understand the link between character and actor. Prior to his role as the Joker, Jack Nicholson was a member of the Actors Studio, where “actors work together to develop their skills in a private environment, where they can take risks as performers without the pressure of commercial roles”. In contrast, upon receiving the role of the Joker, Ledger secluded himself to a motel room in order to fully envelope himself into the complex psychology of the Joker. However, despite numerous, flawless performances in other roles, Ledger had never received any formal acting school training, which teaches actors “to approach a role as foreign, as a language you’ll temporarily speak”. So, through complete character emersion, Ledger did not act as the Joker, he was the Joker.

The origin of Nicholson’s Joker in Batman in comparison to that of Ledger’s in The Dark Knight can be seen as a major factor in discerning between the two Jokers---rewrite One main signature characteristic of the Joker is his appearance and the way in which he came to look this way. Nicholson portrays the Joker as a victim of a plunge into a chemical vat that causes his hair follicles to grow bright green, his skin to appear chalky white, and his soft skin to shine ruby red. The cut wounds on his cheeks are also a repercussion from the chemical encounter, and are as irreparable as his skin and hair.

However Ledger physically portrays the Joker in a different light, and although looking similar to Nicholson with green hair, white skin, and red lips, the way in which he came to look this way remains a question. Although stories are told by the Joker throughout the plot movie, such as his alcoholic father cut his cheeks with a kitchen knife, or he cut his own face to show his wife he did not care about the cuts on her face. However the stories are contradicted by each other and thus have no merit. But regardless of the truth behind these tales told by Ledger, they do give insight about how the appearance affects the psyche of the Joker. Nicholson’s Joker is seen to have “lost touch with sanity” after his plastic surgeon cannot repair his face. (put this in 1st paragraph?) However Ledger is never seen as a sane character, unlike Nicholson before the accident. Prior to the Joker’s stories about his wife and his father, he admits to the manager of the Gotham National Bank during a heist that “whatever doesn’t kill a person makes them stranger”, alluding to the fact the stories he would go on to tell could have some historical background in his life.

The contrasting storylines between Batman and The Dark Knight can also contribute to the difference in characters. After assuming the role as the Joker, Nicholson kills his previous crime lord and takes over his empire, then “engaging in a violent, chaotic crime spree, the motive being to "outdo" Batman, whom he felt was getting too much press”. (quote in this sentence seems unnecessary, paraphrase) Ledger’s Joker is introduced as a freelance crime artist, who feels that “If you’re good at something, never do it for free;which he takes to heart by ripping off crime bosses. Unlike Nicholson’s Joker, which sought to eliminate Batman for his own benefit, Ledger states, "I had a vision, of a world without Batman. The Mob tried to ground a little profit and the police tried to shut them down, one block at a time. And it was so... boring". However through the progression of the plot, the true colors of Ledger’s Joker are shown as that of an anarchist, rather than a true crime lord. Unlike Nicholson’s Joker who is set on poisoning Gotham with Smylex at the Gotham City’s 200th Anniversary Parade, Ledger is set on chaos ripping apart Gotham from the inside out, all at the root of “Gotham’s White Knight”, the politician Harvey Dent. (I like the comparison of the two but a little too much plot summary)

“Giving Harvey a gun, the Joker advised him to break away from the law that failed him and turn to anarchy and chaos, which the Joker describes as the only truly fair system, as the fate of everyone would be only decided by chance, without the interference of the flawed laws of Man”.(lengthy opening quote) By corrupting the incorruptible, and despite his later incarceration, Ledger’s Joker succeeds in his master plan unlike Nicholson. Where Nicholson is killed inadvertently when Batman’s attempt to save him with a grappling hook is foiled by the wire snapping, Ledger’s successful master plan shows that even the most noble of men can stoop to his level, “I took Gotham's white knight and I brought him down to our level. It wasn't hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!”

*NEED CONCLUSION OBVIOUSLY
Your argument for the psyche of Ledger’s Joker in the 1st paragraph is particularly strong. But try adding more on Nicholson’s role as well though. Also I felt that some of your quotes were unnecessary and would be more beneficial to just paraphrase. Try to cut back on the plot summary as well. Make sure that you solidify and support your thesis.

After reviewing Lee’s paper, I have drawn a few recommendations to hopefully improve his writing. To start off, his first sentence needs to be completely reconstructed. Instead of having a tricky and wordy sentence, he should try and open with a more simple, yet appealing. Maybe try, “While Batman’s dominance has reigned throughout Hollywood’s Gotham, its’ villains have only risen in complexity.” With that opening sentence the reader already knows that his paper will be dealing with Batman movies in particular. His thesis also needs some work; because his idea is there, but he should make it more concise and clear to the reader.



Another area I saw improvement in was his in-text quotations. Although the quotes are indeed relevant and do provide good information, many of them seem to be just dropped-in and could benefit if they were instead paraphrased. I also feel like the quotations lead to Lee in using so much plot summary; resulting into him staying away from fully elaborating on his argument. Finally, every essay of course needs a conclusion and I believe that once he develops his final thoughts the argument and aim of his paper will be more defined. He needs more information on way each actor approached and even lived as the Joker throughout each films’ shooting.

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