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Film Theory: Joker Ending Explained (ft. Pitch Meeting)

Film Theory: Joker Ending Explained (ft. Pitch Meeting)
Complete spoilers for "Joker" incoming, but, y'know, you clicked on a video titled "Ending Explained", so I would assume you already knew that... Still, if I don't explicitly do this at the beginning of the video, the comments are gonna be mad about it, so consider this your warning. So, you have a new comic book movie for me? Yes, sir, I do. It's called "Joker". Wait, wait, you're not the usual guy. Sure, I am! Well, if you say so. So tell me about this movie. So it follows a mentally ill man named Arthur Fleck, who, y'know, is just having the worst possible luck.
film theory joker ending explained ft pitch meeting
That's terrible! He works gigs as a clown -- That's nice But then gets beat up in the streets That's terrible He performs in front of sick kids at the hospital -- That's nice But then drops a handgun in front of them and gets fired from the job. Wow, okay, you're really taking me on a roller coaster of emotions here /: And that's just the beginning! Oh, really? Yeah, yeah, yeah! So he gets on the subway and shoots some bankers, right? Which starts citywide protests where all the people of Gotham want to kill the rich!
film theory joker ending explained ft pitch meeting

More Interesting Facts About,

film theory joker ending explained ft pitch meeting...

Kill the rich! Kill the rich! Oh, hopefully they don't learn my salary... (laughs) Yeah, hopefully not (Tense music) Please stop looking at me that way Okay, I'll stop So, anyway, Arthur's life really starts turning around He finds himself a new girlfriend He gets invited onto his favorite late-night talk show He becomes a leader of this public rebellion Good for him! he kills his mother, his coworkers, his favorite celebrity, And just a lot of other people Oh, my god, not good for him Oh, no, no, no, don't worry, None of it actually happens Okay, good, 'cuz for a second there -- Or does it?!
film theory joker ending explained ft pitch meeting
Wait, what? You see, it all just may be vivid fantasies from Arthur's mental illness That sounds confusing You bet it is! Almost like everyone is gonna have to watch an online video explaining everything that happened in the movie to pick apart what was real from what wasn't (Meta) I sure hope so! Y o u W i l l W a t c h T h e W h o l e V i d e o S-so you're gonna explain it to me? Of course! It'll be super easy barely an inconvenience How much time d'you got?
film theory joker ending explained ft pitch meeting
Hello, Internet! Welcome to Film Theory where "Joker" has literally just hit theaters I was lucky enough to have Warner Brothers fly me out to the Toronto International Film Festival to see it a few weeks early which is partly how I was able to get this video up so soon But I gotta say, I haven't stopped thinking about it since that first viewing Just like "Batman Begins" and "Iron Man" before it, I firmly believe that this movie is going to have a huge impact. on the stories that superhero movies are allowed to tell for the next decade It's gritty, it's violent, it's crass, it's heartbreaking yet terrifying, and, well, it's ambiguous In addition to having some extreme plot twists that come at you very fast, "Joker" is a

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that's constantly blurring the lines between reality and fantasy As a result, lots of people are probably leaving the theater this weekend thrilled by what they saw, but also, a little bit puzzled What exactly DID they see?
What is the REAL story of Arthur Fleck? That, my fellow moviegoers, is the question that we're exploring today You see, if taken at face value, "Joker" is a pretty self-explanatory movie We begin with Arthur Fleck a mentally ill man afflicted with multiple disorders including pseudobulbar affect a medical condition that causes him to spontaneously erupt into uncontrollable fits of laughter he's in a desperate condition poverty-stricken and left alone to care for his sick mother, Penny He has big dreams of one day doing stand-up comedy like his hero, the late-night talk show host Murray Franklin But in the meantime he makes a meager living as a clown doing gig work sign-spinning and performing at various events throughout Gotham City it's thankless and brutal work with him getting attacked in the streets by a group of young thugs who, for whatever reason, are just really committed to sign theft which, alone, would be bad enough but then adding insult to injury he gets fined by his employer for the broken sign Hey, it's not his fault that that sign was built in a way that it would easily explode into pieces.
Seriously, it's almost like that thing was a prop or something... and it's there that the story really begins A coworker offers him a handgun for protection but the gun falls out of his pants while performing for children at the hospital getting him fired from the job altogether And, can I just say, the hospital scene in this movie was brilliant perfectly balancing tension, fear, and humor it's just a testament to how good this movie is at balancing multiple tones Anyway, his day just keeps getting worse as, on the subway home, he's assaulted by a trio of rich Wall Street traders But this time, Arthur fires back Literally Taking his handgun and reflexively killing off his first two attackers before hunting down and finishing off the third.
And it's this spark that ignites all the other plot lines of the movie The first -- and biggest -- directly follows the aftermath of this trio of murders Thomas Wayne, father of future Batman, in the midst of his campaign to become Gotham's next mayor, derides the crime, and in so many words, labels the underprivileged of Gotham as "Clowns" This results in the oppressed Gothamites taking the nameless killer clown as their figurehead Adopting the clown persona for themselves and ultimately calling for a mass take-down of the rich All while Arthur watches the chaos that he unintentionally started On the more personal front, Arthur engages in a burgeoning romance with Sophie, a single mother from his apartment building down the hall even inviting her to a stand-up routine at the Pogo's Club The routine does not go well His condition prevents him from delivering a single joke and, as his mother says "Well, he's just not that funny."
In fact, it goes so poorly that a clip of his performance goes viral Or, at least, viral in, like, the 1980s New York sense

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up on the very show that he and his mother loved watching: Ellen -- right next to that yodeling Wal-Mart kid Wait, that doesn't sound right -- let me check my notes Oh, yeah -- his clip ends up on the Murray Franklin Show where he gets ridiculed by his personal hero And if that sounds bad, well, it is until, of course, Murray's team reaches out to see if Arthur would like to make an appearance on the show because his clip was such a huge hit again, just like Ellen We're gonna make fun of you in person this time, but, y'know, it's okay, because we're making you famous for 15 minutes Arthur says yes to the gig more on that in a minute Speaking of being let down by parental figures, his mother, Penny, used to work for Thomas Wayne And she insists, were he to know about their desperate condition, he would be willing to offer them a helping hand Arthur is skeptical that he would care, until, twist, he reads a letter that his mom wrote to Thomas saying that he, Arthur, is actually Thomas Wayne's secret son So he goes to Wayne Manor, which has shockingly terrible security, creeps out Alfred and Bruce in a fantastic scene that is honestly only there for fan service and trailers, and then confronts Thomas Wayne at a movie premier about being his dear old dad in the most appropriate place to have that sort of conversation, the men's restroom Talk about your awkward urinal conversations But wait, double twist, Thomas reveals that he never had a relationship with Penny That instead, Arthur was adopted and that it was all a last-ditch attempt to get the Wayne family to pay attention to her Wanting to learn the truth for himself because of course Thomas Wayne wouldn't own up to that sort of thing he actually steals Penny's file from Arkham Asylum only to learn that Wayne was indeed telling the truth Not only was he adopted but what's more, he was abused by Penny and her boyfriend chained to a radiator, malnourished, assaulted, This neglect and trauma is largely what's to blame for his mental disorder So, with this information in hand, he promptly engages in a very aggressive pillow fight against his mother, to thank her for her role in all of this Penny loses. (Top 10 Fight scenes) It's also important to note this major turning point in Arthur's story At this point, Joker now has no identity He's not a Fleck, He's not a Wayne, He's just an adopted kid with no name on record True to form for any good Joker So, suffice it to say that Arthur's havin' himself a rough time He's the key suspect in the subway killings, his parentage is like a game of hot potato, and his stand-up career is on the rocks The only thing he has going for him is that appearance on Murray Franklin We see him practice his entrance It's weak His banter It's a bit rough And his one final joke A knock-knock joke that Arthur doesn't fully intend to finish, hoping that his death live on camera will have more meaning than his life ever did Since he was called a "Joker" by Murray when he was mocked on the show, that's the name that he adopts: his clown persona but, in a meta sense, it's more than just a reference to that moment on the show Remember, Arthur is now a blank slate, wiped clean of the past that he thought he knew The Joker persona is the only piece of identity that he has left now It's the only persona that's ever made him feel noticed and empowered Sure, it's empowerment through fear, but it's empowerment nontheless He physically and mentally transforms himself into the Joker, and is free and unrestrained at last This is reflected in his dance on the city steps that's on all the posters Loose and wild like a tube man in front of a used-car dealership Compare that to his little ballets earlier in the movie, which were cautious, restrained, timid, hidden in dark and abandoned bathrooms He's a free man, unleashed, unfettered But for as empowering as this Joker outfit is for him, To the rest of the world, it's seen as a political statement: Him siding with these rioters in Gotham, siding with a murderer who killed three rich people in a subway Murray, when confronted with this decision, overrules his team's fears and allows Arthur to go on despite the risk, believing that the controversy will probably boost the popularity of the show The show starts well enough, with Joker hamming it up for the cameras in his big entrance, kissing his fellow guest on the couch, but quickly devolves when Murray asks Arthur to tell a Joke Joker reveals that he's the subway killer clown and gets to rant about how everyone is awful these days how people like him have been made to be the joke of society overlooked and mocked by everyone including Murray himself In other words, what he's saying is that the downtrodden are indeed the clowns here And it's time for the clowns to make a change No longer interested in finishing himself off on the show, he turns the gun on Murray for his final punchline What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a system that treats him like trash?
You get what you deserve And with that he shoots Murray live on camera before being dragged away by the cops But spurred on by that broadcast, the Gotham riots explode into a violent frenzy The Wayne family flees the local opera house in fear for their lives, only to be cornered in an alley by a random rioter and shot, flying pearls and all Joker's rescued from the police wagon by his now devout followers and laid out, Christ-like figure on its hood, When he finally comes to, he stands above them all, painting a big smile on his face in blood He's found his voice, he's found his audience Look who's laughing now The important point to note in all of this is that it's all random Arthur never intended to start a rebellion He was just some guy who got attacked -- and attacked back -- on a subway He didn't go onto Murray's show with a political speech ready; in fact, he intended to do the exact opposite He intended to finish himself off on camera, hoping that his death would have some sort of meaning behind it He had no idea what it would be, just that it would do something Instead, he not only keeps himself alive, he just stumbles into the words that wind up igniting the city There is no big plot against the Wayne family to get retribution for the way they treated him and his mother, it just so happens that a random rioter pulls the trigger, spurred on by the Joker's words It's a domino effect, completely at random True to the essence of this character that is the Joker, everything is chaos For the last stinger of the movie, we cut to him in Arkham Asylum, a scene that's very reminiscent of his earlier interviews with his social worker We see him laughing at what he describes to be an inside joke that's, quote, "Between me and him"
The scene then cuts to a young Bruce Wayne standing over the bodies of his dead parents in an alleyway That's the "him" that this joke is for As for what the joke actually is, well, As I interpret it, it's that for a while it seemed like the two of 'em might have been related, only for it to be revealed that they weren't But now the two of them will forever be intertwined, because Joker was the reason that Bruce lost his parents It's

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black irony Arthur leaves the room, leaving a trail of bloody footprints before being chased around the halls by an orderly So that's clear as crystal, right?
Why would a movie like this need any sort of explanation? I mean, sure, the stuff about his parents gets a little bit confusing in the middle there, And you might overlook the subtext of him losing any sense of identity, only to fill that void with the Joker persona, but the rest of it has a pretty logical flow, right? Weeell, not quite You see, while a purely surface level reading of this movie absolutely works, it's also not likely to be a hundred percent correct Our first indication that everything we're seeing on screen might not be exactly as it seems comes fairly early on in the movie Arthur comes home, settles in for the night, and joins his mother for their usual evening activity of watching the Murray Franklin Show except, the movie then cuts to Arthur being in the audience being singled out by Murray to come up onto the stage and tell his story Murray even says that if he had a son, he would want that son to be like Arthur Clearly, this isn't a memory of anything that ever happened before It's a fantasy sequence that's been seamlessly mixed in with rest of the narrative And that is just the first example of this happening When he's fired from his job as a clown, the scene then cuts to Arthur in an alley, aggressively stomping on a body, before cutting back to Arthur's smiling face He's fantasizing about killing his boss in that moment But does he actually do it?
No, there are no signs that he actually does anything like that in the course of the movie These scenes are setting up exactly what we predicted in our earlier "Joker"

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: That, true to the spirit its predecessor King of Comedy, This

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mixes hallucination, delusion, fantasy, and reality with no indication as to what is actually what But perhaps the biggest, most obvious example of this blurry line between reality and fantasy comes in the form of Sophie, the neighbor that Arthur has a crush on and eventually pursues a romantic relationship with Their early interactions are incredibly awkward She tries to initiate small talk in the elevator with him, and Arthur can barely manage to respond, only replying minutes later in a very socially inappropriate way He follows her to work, and instead of being creeped out, she's charmed by it They eventually go on a series of seemingly normal dates, with the awkwardness between the two of them completely gone But late in the movie, as the cops start closing in, and as he learns the truth of his horrific childhood, he enters her unlocked apartment in need of support But when Sophie enters the room, she's terrified She doesn't identify him as Arthur, or as the man that she's been dating Instead, he's the guy from down the hall It's finally then that the curtain gets pulled back We have brief flashes back to the previous scenes of their relationship, but this time, Sophie is gone from the picture The entirety of their relationship was a fabrication, an elaborate series of fantasies happening inside of Arthur's head It helps explain how Arthur went from awkward social loner to ladies' man seemingly overnight If this was all a lie, literally anything in the movie could be So, how can you tell what's what?
Well, there seem to be some definite hints, with the first one being Sophie herself When Arthur and Sophie visit his mother at the hospital, there's a very clear, pointed moment of her leaving the room right before his failed stand-up comedy routine plays on Murray Franklin Show That seems to suggest that that moment is really happening It's a cinematic trick indicating to us that the fantasy element -- Sophie -- has left the room, leaving just Arthur and the reality of the situation: his clip, playing on Murray Franklin Another clue is the behavior of the people around Arthur in any given scene Look at their reactions, or lack thereof, relative to his behavior Again, this is a cinematic convention that's set up with the very first fantasy scene in the movie: Him in the audience of Murray's Show Before this clip from the trailers -- which, obviously, I can't show you, 'cause the movie is so new -- Arthur's behavior is inappropriate for the setting of being in the audience of a TV show hence why he's been singled out from the rest of the crowd And yet, for as awkwardly disruptive as he is, no one around him reacts negatively They're all neutral to positive And then, in all these fantasy sequences, he's embraced by all the people that he loves Murray, Sophie In his fantasies, he's the hero The mother in the subway car, protecting her child in the trailers?
Absolutely real She's creeped out by him His failed stand-up routine? Real, but what we hear the audience's reaction to be is actually fake That's why, when we see this clip again, only on the Murray Franklin Show, the audience is silent They're not laughing What he was perceiving in that moment onstage is not what was actually happening in reality Him in Pogo's Comedy Club, watching another stand-up comic perform? Fake We know this because he's laughing at entirely all the wrong places during the routine He's laughing in the middle of jokes rather than at the end, but no one in the audience around him is reacting to the disruption that he's causing Those murders in the subway car?
Yeah, they're real But now look closer at the conversations that he's having with his social worker Many of the lines Arthur says get no reaction from her, particularly this one about her never listening: "You don't listen, do you." Just like him fantasizing about killing his boss, these scenes are cutting together reality and fantasy Him imagining what he would say to her, having the conversation in his mind, but not always saying those words out loud I mean, we've all been there, right? Which admittedly leads us to the biggest question of 'em all The Ending Does he actually go on Murray Franklin?
Does he actually kill his hero? Does he actually become the face of a revolution? The answer in my estimation is yes -- and no. It honestly depends on how you want to interpret the final scene of him in Arkham Asylum Based on the cinematic clues we discussed -- the reactions of others around him, the news coverage the Murray Incident incites -- yeah, it does seem to be real The fact that there's a scene included in the movie showing the Murray broadcast mixed in with other real world broadcasts from a neutral third party perspective seems to suggest that this was a real thing That moment reads to me as: This horrific act of violence happening live on TV is just one of thousands of moments happening on TV and is just washed over and ignored, mixed in by all the noise that's happening around us all the time If you're including a statement scene like that, it's probably not going to be mixed in with a fantasy sequence, right?
However, there is a case to made that most of this movie isn't real The turning point really comes midway through the film Arthur, during a

meeting

with his social worker, is informed that this will be his last The scene ends with him asking where he'll be able to get his medication The implication is that he won't be able to And without his medication, wouldn't you know it, from that point forward, we get some of the most unbelievable parts of the story: His stand-up routine appearing on TV, getting invited to the Murray Show, easily sneaking into the movie premier to corner Thomas Wayne in the bathroom, being rescued from a police cruiser, surviving a crash that was fatal for everyone else in the car, and then being hailed as a figurehead for this mighty rebellion He becomes more articulate, more confident, more driven to action, more assertive He outright says to other characters that he's no longer taking his meds, and, as a result, feels better All these scenes could be fabrications, set off by his untreated mental disorder I mean, watch the movie again and look at the headlines of the paper Kill the rich?
Don't get me wrong, click bait headlines are commonplace these days But do you really think that papers are gonna be printing that in big, bold letters on their front page? Well yeah, maybe But still, how about Joker's entrance on the Murray Show? This is a man who could barely walk through a curtain when he was practicing for the moment at his house, but now he's twirling around flawlessly, kissing other people on the show without any sort of consequence? Even the way Murray talks as he interviews Joker feels reminiscent of the stilted way he addressed Arthur in the very first fantasy sequence of the movie In both scenes, one of which we know is a fantasy, Murray is just there asking softball questions that allow Arthur to get up on his soap box and say the things that he's fantasizing about saying Speaking of parallel scenes, consider that final moment before the credits We're in Arkham Asylum, in an interview that directly parallels all the scenes with the social worker from the beginning of the movie We have similar camera framings, a very similar actress, not just in terms of race and sex, but in terms of dress, hairstyle, and manner of speech, Is it just cinematic shorthand to show the absurd repetition of his life, OR was it to suggest that all of those earlier scenes were just him in this room?
Is the personal joke that Arthur finds so funny just him running through one elaborate fantasy during his therapy session? The exact fantasy that we just watched play out in extreme detail inside his own head A joke where he gets consequence-free revenge on literally every person who's ever wronged him Bullies, coworkers, mothers, TV hosts, and ultimately, he winds up on top I don't know if there is a correct answer here Don't get me wrong, just like how "Inception" has a definitive answer if you look closely enough, "Joker" may have a definitive answer, too Having only seen the movie twice, and without the ability to go frame-by-frame, it's hard for me to tell and get the necessary details But you can bet that I'll be seeing it multiple more times to come to a conclusion Suffice it to say, what I appreciate most about the film is how it manages to thread the needle It gives you a backstory for this iconic character who never had one, but then rips it away and makes you question literally everything that you just saw True to the spirit of the Joker, this movie's origin of character is also multiple choice "If I'm going to have a past, I prefer to be multiple choice."
But hey, (CROSSOVER CONFIRMED?!?! Nah it's actually just a meme because it felt fimiliar) that's just a

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Wow, that sounds super complicated No, no, no, it'll be great! The Internet'll be debating about it for YEARS Can we at least add like, a -- like a Batman credit card or somethin'? I am not even gonna entertain that idea with a response Well, it's just that if nobody knows what's real and what's not, how are we supposed to tie this together with Wonder Woman and Aquaman and all those other delightful little scamps?
Actually, it's gonna be super easy! Barely an inconvenience! What -- what -- what did you say? I said -- I said I have a script for you, called "Joker" But -- what happened to the other guy? What -- what other guy? Wait -- was -- was that all just a hallucination, too? *TRIPPLE TWIST* Probably, I mean, your desk is covered in strange pills (laughs) Oh, yes, it certainly is Then do you mind if I get to my

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? I'm really excited about this movie Oh, yeah, let's do that thing, but let's do it over at our usual office, okay?
You guys can get there by clicking on the box on the screen There are a bunch of videos on the Screen Rant YouTube Channel Wha -- who are you talking to, and what's a Screen Rant Channel? Did you take one of your desk pills again? Oooh, so I did Whoops! Whoopsie But seriously, Screen Rant is full hundreds of Pitch Meetings just like this one I guarantee that you'll end up watching, like, at least ten in a row I certainly did. (laughs) We're addictive! Like these pills! :D

Source : The Film Theorists