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Tear Jerker / The Dark Knight

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I'm sorry, Harvey.
WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.
  • After Batman went through the trouble of stopping a group of imitators and told them not to try that again because he didn't want them to get hurt or killed by lack of training and equipment, the Joker captures, tortures, and kills one of them.
  • The part with the bombs on the ferries, when the huge convict and the random, seemingly stoic, and pragmatic man are holding the detonators for the bombs on each other's boats. The convict takes the detonator from the police officer and casually hurls it out the window, completely ready to accept his fate, while the man on the other ferry tries to trigger the bomb, looks down at it, and with his hands trembling, he puts it back down. The scene right there is so powerful, human, and heroic for the ordinary citizens of Gotham.
    • The huge convict's line before throwing the detonator out the window:
      Ginty: Give it to me, and I'll do what you shoulda did ten minutes ago.
      • A very subtle one that a lot of people miss: Right when the convict throws the detonator out the window, he goes to sit down in... not shame, but resolution. A group of other convicts circles him as if to say "It's all right, you did the right thing" and all look as if they are comforting him. That says so much right there...
      • This scene is especially touching because it’s a reminder that whatever a person may have done in their past, they are still capable of doing good if they choose to. Whatever that convict was guilty of (based on his lines, it’s implied that he’s at least a murderer) he still recognized the evil of what the Joker was asking them to do and took the option off the table entirely, even if it meant he could possibly die in the process. It’s a testament to how even people who have committed evil in their lives are still human beings with the capacity for good.
    • The aftermath of the Joker's sadistic choice shows Batman summing up the implications of this for the Joker's philosophy.
      Batman: What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? You're alone.
  • Some of it is due to the Harsher in Hindsight factor, but fans didn't even like Rachel Dawes, yet they still cried at her cut-off sentence when she dies in the explosion.
    • Pay close attention to Batman's body language when he arrives at the address and sees that he'd been tricked. He pauses as he looks at Harvey for a moment before rushing to grab him and drag him out. He knows Rachel is going to die...and there's nothing he can do about it.
  • Rachel's letter to Bruce, and what Alfred ends up doing with it.
    • Bruce's speech about how Rachel was going to wait for him after she died. Alfred smartly takes the letter away from the breakfast tray and burns it. In the context of Batman's speech about having faith being rewarded, Bruce would have likely quit being Batman right there and then had he read the letter.
    • As a side note, you can't help but find Foreshadowing to her eventual decision during her dinner with Bruce and Dent. Her mention of Caesar as a counterpoint to Harvey can be seen as her disenchantment with Bruce's role as the Dark Knight.
  • Batman standing alone at the site of Rachel's death, with two firefighters pointing at him as he broods.
    • Bruce slumped in his chair after Rachel's death. It's sad enough in context, but what makes it absolutely heartbreaking is the way the shots and Alfred's dialogue mirror the aftermath of his parents' funeral in Batman Begins. Even after all his training and accomplishments, Bruce is still the same traumatized little kid.
  • She's in it so briefly, but the lady playing Gordon's wife gives a fine performance. Her whole role is a tearjerker, from freaking out and yelling at Batman (hiding in the shadows) when the police notify her of her husband's "death", to the moment when Jim comes back and they share a tender moment, to the ending when she desperately tries to protect her children by hiding their faces and screaming "Jim, help him!" as Two-Face holds the gun on her little boy.
  • Harvey Dent. Anyone with even vague knowledge of the character from any of the adaptations knows what's coming, but that won't save you from every scene of his transformation into Two-Face punching you in the gut and then spitting on you for good measure. The horrifically realistic facial burns do not help.
    Harvey: You think I wanna escape from this? There is no escape from this!
    • When Batman arrives to rescue Harvey at the building he's about to blow up in, Harvey reacts in anguish, knowing that with Batman having come for him, Rachel will die instead. He has to be dragged out of the building screaming, trying to get last words in with Rachel over the phone.
    • Seeing Batman dragging Harvey out the building, just for the explosion to set half of his body on fire. Batman just stands over him, his hands unable to stop the flames from burning out of control, all as Harvey screams in pain and anguish.
    • Seeing Harvey's sanity break when he finds out Rachel has died. Harvey, in the hospital bed, wakes up and smiles as he reaches over to grab the coin he'd given Rachel, thinking it means she survived but then turns it over to see the burnt side. The look of sheer horrifying anguish on his face followed by the silent screaming and the shaking breakdown right afterward hits hard. It's done in almost complete silence, but the minimal soundtrack and Aaron Eckhart's acting really sell it.
    • Additionally, when Gordon visits Harvey in the hospital, he notes that although the doctors said he was in pain from the burns, he refused to take any medication. Rachel's death hit him so hard, that his physical pain felt serene in comparison.
    • When the corrupted Harvey rants at Gordon for failing to save Rachel, he threatens to kill Gordon's son in response, and uses a coin flip to decide whether or not to actually do it.
      • When Gordon is desperately trying to save his son:
        Gordon: I'm sorry! For everything! Please don't hurt my son [...] Harvey, you're right, Rachel's death was my fault. But please don't punish the boy... punish me.
        Two-Face: I'm about to.
    • Gary Oldman's performance when pleading with Harvey not to hurt his family is also very heartbreaking.
    • When Batman shows up, insisting that Harvey doesn't want to hurt Gordon's son and asking him to put the gun down. Harvey spends a moment genuinely showing regret, then yells that it doesn't matter what he wants, it's about what's fair. He truly doesn't want to kill the kid but feels he must anyway. That is when you know just how hard Harvey's fallen into madness.
      Two-Face: It's not about what I want! IT'S ABOUT WHAT'S FAIR! You thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time! But you were wrong. The world is cruel. The only morality in a cruel world is chance. (Holds up coin.) Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair. His son's got the same chance she had. Fifty-fifty.
    • The exchange between Batman and Harvey at the end.
      Two-Face: The Joker chose me!
      Batman: Because you were the best of us! He wanted to prove... that even someone as good as you, could fall.
      Two-Face: [a look of horror passes over his face, then with bitterness] And he was right.
    • The look on Harvey's face when he says "And he was right" adds another level of gut-wrenching sorrow. This is somebody who has realized that he's gone too far to turn back now.
    • "We thought we could be decent men in an indecent time! But we were wrong." That line is so powerful and Aaron Eckhart just nails it.
    • "The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair."
    • When Harvey, a fundamentally decent human being, points the gun at his own head for being one of the people responsible for Rachel's death and says with resignation, "My turn." When the coin comes up in his favor, he actually looks disappointed.
    • Gordon's quiet summation after Harvey's death is the cap on the tragedy.
  • Gordon's final monologue, set to the scene of Batman running from the cops, "because we have to chase him".
  • When Bruce says about Harvey: "Look at this face. This is the face of Gotham's bright future." He was definitely right. But only by half.
  • Between the two parts of the end credits, we get this dedication: "In memory of our friends Heath Ledger & Conway Wickliffe". Wickliffe was a special effects technician for the film, who was tragically killed while filming the Batmobile chase scene.