What's behind the mask?

Posted by David Konow

While I have mixed feelings about The Dark Knight Rises, there’s a little touch I really appreciated about the film: You never saw Bane without his mask.

Normally this kind of thing would be demanded by a test screening audience, and I was wondering myself if he was going to be shown without it or not, but I like the fact that it wasn’t revealed.


 
I think this goes back to growing up with horror films in the eighties, where Michael Myers and Jason had their masks, Jason didn’t find his trademark hockey mask until the third Friday flick. While you wanted to see what Jason looked like without the mask (because there were great make-up artists working on the Friday movies that could construct a hideous face underneath), you actually didn’t mind the fact that you never saw Michael without his on.
 
You may recall in the original Halloween his mask was ripped off briefly, and it proved to be a non-event in the film. It thankfully didn’t ruin the movie and you didn’t give much thought to Michael being a normal looking guy underneath. And most horror fans also probably know the mask was actually a modded Captain Kirk mask painted white, yet it definitely creeped everyone out anyway.
 
In the original screenplay for Eight Millimeter, one of the villains is a steroids monster porn star who wears a Mexican wrestling mask, and in the script the audience was never supposed to see who he was underneath, an idea I really liked that didn’t make it to the final film. As writer Andrew Kevin Walker, who also wrote Se7en, once said, what face under that mask would have answered any questions you had anyways?
 
And essentially this logic works for me with Batman. Bane’s backstory is explained in the film, we know he’s a monster just by looking at him, and a lot of times it’s a lot scarier when we can’t see the boogeyman under the bed that clearly - simply because the unknown is always the greatest fear. So thanks to Christopher Nolan for not shooting The Dark Knight Rises in digital, not going 3D, and not taking off Bane’s mask. We true film geeks really appreciate it.