Before 2008, nobody could have ever imagined that a comic book super-villain role in film could garner a prestigious accolade like a major acting award. Then Warner Bros. released “The Dark Knight” which eventually earned a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Heath Ledger as Batman baddie the Joker. True, perhaps the Australian actor who died months after filming the movie earned great pull towards his remarkable acting, but it was still notable that a super-villain clown role could generate that kind of reception. But when Warner showcased their standalone “Joker” spinoff at the Venice Film Festival, it got some high praise over there too.
According to CNN, the Clown Prince of Crime in Gotham City, as portrayed by another actor and in a movie where he is the protagonist, impressed the Venice Film Fest committee enough that they awarded “Joker” with the Golden Lion for Best Film, the festival’s biggest award. The news was shared by the VFF on their official Twitter page, citing “Joker” and its director Todd Phillips, who was also on hand to accept the award. This is yet another unexpected cinematic triumph for DC Comics’ antithesis enemy of Batman, who is portrayed as a challenging character role by Joaquin Phoenix.
“Joker” is a generalized adaptation of one of the titular super-villain’s many possible origin stories, where he, as plated by Phoenix, is a psychologically imbalanced individual and failed stage comedian, whose personal issues and abuse from the criminal element and uncaring society of Gotham City leads to him becoming clown-faced perpetrator of chaos. Phillips, who called on Phoenix to join him on stage during his acceptance, noted that the movie would not have been possible without the actor’s involvement. He also thanked Warner and DC for “stepping out of the comfort zone” by entrusting him with making the “Joker” film, unlike any superhero or villain movie ever produced so far.
The Venice Film Festival, celebrating its 76th edition this 2019, is acknowledged as the first dedicated film festival in the world. Held from August 28 to September 7, this year’s edition has been fraught with some controversy. Among the showcased films had been “An Officer and a Spy” by celebrated filmmaker Roman Polanski, long exiled from Hollywood after fleeing the US in 1978 before he could be sentenced for statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. Major film industry figures questioned his inclusion, particularly has he has long been removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences long ago.
Aside from Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger, the Joker has been portrayed by Jared Leto, Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero. “Star Wars” cast-member Mark Hamill is also the most celebrated voice actor for the character.
Image courtesy of Variety