They Were Our People: Reflections on the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Shooting in Aurora, Colorado

Aurora, Colorado

Every weeknight, Movie News After Dark comes to you with news and notes on a variety of topics. The goal: find the best articles and most interesting items of the day. From around the web, we bring together a selection of links that hopefully enhance your enjoyment of the world of film. It’s our way of reminding you that there are great things to read and see out there, and not just from within the confines of this site. But every once in a while a news story opens itself up to a broader discussion, and MNAD takes a longer look at the reactions from our friends and neighbors in the blogosphere. We always hope that such an event will be a positive story. This one happens to be an unthinkable tragedy.

I remember midnight on July 18, 2008. It was my third time seeing The Dark Knight, at that point the film I placed at the center of my universe. Even though weeks prior I had been in Los Angeles at the press junket and even more recently at a local screening for press in Columbus, Ohio, I was excited about the massive midnight crowd and the line of people that streamed through the Easton Town Center AMC on Columbus’ east side. As I looked around to friends and beyond my group to fellow devotees, I couldn’t help but enjoy the simple fact that we were all lined up for a one amazing communal experience. Driven by the love of movies, we were all about to see something special. And I knew this better than anyone in line. There I was, among my people. The kind of people for which I started this website in 2006. The kind of people who can never talk to long enough about the nitty gritty details of our favorite movies. It felt like home.

Last night, many people around the country had a similar experience. They were home.

In an Aurora, Colorado theater, an unfortunate group had that experience interrupted by gunfire. Not the kind you see on screen, but the kind that are real and terrifying and not at all entertaining. At the hands of a 24-year old maniac, some of these people lost their lives.

We all react to this in our own way. My first thought was of empathy for the families of those who were lost and injured. What could be more innocuous than going to the movies? Personally, it’s one of the places I’ve always felt safest. The shock of this can be nothing more than overwhelming for those who lost loved ones. There will be those who think about the killer. Why did he do it? What drove him to toss a canister of smoke into a crowd and open fire? In the end, it doesn’t matter. It takes a truly deranged and broken person to commit such a crime. If tomorrow they release a manifesto stating that he just wanted to be like The Joker, you won’t see me condemning violent films. It’s a special sort who goes out and kills innocent people, no matter what kind of movies they like.

As Devin Faraci at Badass Digest said in an article filled with a great amount of perspective, “It has nothing to do with movies or The Dark Knight Rises. Even if it has everything, in the shooter’s head, to do with those things, it doesn’t truly. This horror didn’t happen because of violence in movies or video games. It happened because a sick, sick person had easy access to weapons and no compunction against using them on innocent people. Bullets killed these people, not a movie.”

Some will still say that it matters why. What matters is that people who were part of our extended family, the lovers of movies, were killed or injured. It’s a terrible loss for our community.

Elsewhere, you’ll find a variety of reactions. S.T. VanAirsdale at Movieline reflects in the emotional toll this will take on those of us who love going to the movies. You’ll never feel safe in a movie theater again, he explains. And he hopes along with the rest of us that an event like this will be a cause for reflection and progress in the realm of protecting the innocent people of America from gun violence. CinemaBlend’s Mack Rawden, along with many others in the critical and pro-fan community, want you to “Stand Up and See The Dark Knight Rises This Weekend” in a show of solidarity. It doesn’t have to be Nolan’s latest Batman, but we shouldn’t allow fear to keep us from living the lives we want. We can’t let it keep us from the things we love. Our own Cole Abaius said as much when he spoke with CNN this morning.

And of course, there’s the reaction from theaters and the folks behind the movie. AMC is banning masks and fake weapons (and perhaps costumes) at their theaters as an increased security measure. Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan released the following statement this afternoon:

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.

I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.

Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

There’s no way for us to adequately express our feelings for the victims, either. We only hope that those around them can know that we share in their sorrow and our thoughts are with them. They were our people, sharing an experience in a place many of us think of as home.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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