I believe if they ever can get James Holmes the Colorado shooter talking and/or communicating semi-coherently, they should ask him about his taste in MOVIES. Such an underwhelming idea is not just based on his recent act of unimaginable violence or fanatical and possibly delusional interest in Batman. True, he called himself the Joker, Batman’s arch enemy, but in his bomb-rigged apartment the police also found a solitary Batman mask. I believe there are signs and suggestions that James Holmes became obsessed with various cinematic “themes” taken from certain movies and, in particular films directed by Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight Rises.
With the screenwriting assistance of his brother Jonathan, Chris Nolan has either written or directed a string of hit movies that include Momento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, and finally, The Dark Knight Rises. I think James Holmes at some level identified with Nolan’s convoluted but consistent cinematic themes. Such themes include secrecy, fear, duality (good versus evil, etc.), mirrored-reality, violent fiction, altered states of mind, and chronological inconsistency.… all played out in a generally dark, revenge -laden or dark criminal -noir like setting. Nolan’s movies typically describe the meticulous planning and execution of “capers” whether they are in real-life, or some one elses dreams or fantasies. His main characters are almost always highly intelligent, sarcastic, athletic, but plagued by contradictory “inner demons” and self-doubt, but nevertheless are doggedly convinced of their own “special destiny”, even to the point of their own death (or ultimate martyrdom).
Holmes special interest in Neuroscience, the mind, and “subjective” reality is especially emphasized in the 2010 sci-fi thriller Inception with Leo DeCaprio. The notion of being able to create subjective “illusions” in time and space and in so doing accomplish something visually and technically remarkable and unforgettable is branded upon many of Christopher Nolan’s previous work. The Dark Knight Rises was meant to be a “final chapter” in his well-received Batman trilogy. Nolan himself made the following statement about it, “Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story. And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story… I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters. My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is ultimately useful.”
Personally, I dont think, in his increasingly psychotic and delusional state, James Hughes wanted “it” (the Trilogy) to end. He wanted to keep the excitement and the complex dialectic between good and evil going, and he was going to step out of the shadows of the theater (sort of like John Wilkes Booth did at the Ford Theater) and play his own indelible part no matter what…..and no matter who died.
James Holmes probably found out he wasn’t intellectually, psychologically or academically equipped to handle the rigors of a highly challenging Neuroscience Ph.D. program. In his deteriorating mental state and perceived failure/rejection by others, he was going to claim some fame and notoriety nonetheless. In that respect he bears some resemblance to John Hinckley, who in 1981 tried to kill President Ronald Reagan, all for the love of actress Jodie Foster and the dubious “fame” his high profile crime brought him. Ironically Hinckley grew up about 30 miles away from the now “infamous” movie theater in Aurora Colorado. The addition of a revenge motive, however, made Holmes an even more likely candidate for carrying out mass murder.
I liked your connection between him and Hinckley/Bickle. We’ll have to wait to hear more from him before we truly know his motivations. His behavior in the court room is what puzzles me most. There is definitely something going on in his head that’s different from most mass murderers in my opinion. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Taxi Driver but there is definitely a lot of similarities.