Some films inspire us because of a particular character, pivotal moment, or storyline. Others are just inspiring in and of themselves. Legends of the Knight is one of those movies.
This weekend I had the pleasure of watching a screening of Legends of the Knight in San Francisco hosted by the director, Brett Culp. I had previously seen the trailer, and knew it was going to be a moving film…but I didn’t realized exactly how touching would be. Let me tell you, I cried…a lot.
The film may have been a tearjerker, but (for those of you who don’t like sad movies) don’t run away! They were good tears. Important tears. The stories presented in this film are stories everyone should hear. Stories of triumph, of heroism, and of compassion. Stories of Batman, and of the real people who love him.
When Brett Culp started work on this film, he had no idea what he had on his hands. He began with an idea of creating a documentary about how stories affect people and change their lives. He liked the contrast of looking at how real people were changed by fictional stories, which led him to narrowing it down to stories about Batman.
Batman is the perfect choice for his movie. Because he has no superpowers, and because he is the most human of superheroes, most of us can see ourselves as Batman in some way or another. As the tagline for the film says “We are Batman”, and Culp has put together a compilation of stories that tell us how we are just that.
I could go on and on about the contents of the movie, and talk about each of the stories, but I feel that it might ruin it for some of you. Instead I’ll encourage each of you to go to the film’s website and order a copy, or look up (or request) a screening near you: here. Otherwise, I’d just like to discuss some of what struck me about the film and Culp’s Q&A session afterward.
There were many shots in the film of kids dressed up like Batman, running around, jumping, and climbing on things. What impressed me about the film is that they weren’t all little white boys. There were many children of color, and girls included in the mix. I think this attests to Culp’s view that any one of us could be the caped crusader, and so can any child with enough imagination.
I don’t know how many young children would be able to sit through this movie, but I do know that it was refreshing to see a diverse group of kids relating to this iconic figure.
The other piece of the movie itself that I wanted to touch on was something that attracted me as a mental health professional. Someone in the film mentioned that superheroes do what they do so that others may never have to go through the same horrible experience they went through. That they help others to heal themselves in some way, and to protect them from the evil they know is out there.
In many of my classes, we’ve talked about the fact that somewhere around 80% (or more) of those who enter the mental health field do so because they have suffered some trauma or mental health issue in their past. As professionals, sometimes we feel as though we need to help others in order to help protect them from the pain we have felt. To make things better for them than they were for us. In a sense, we are doing the same thing as most superheroes. We are Batman.
If there’s any takeaway from the movie, it is that.
After the screening, Brett Culp held a Q&A session for all of us to answer any questions the movie might have brought up. During this session, it was easy to see how passionate he was about telling the stories of these individuals, and to the message their stories brought forth.
Culp wanted to make sure that the distribution of the film was “in the spirit of Batman” just as the movie itself was. To accomplish this, all of the screenings across the country benefit a local charity, paying it forward. The proceeds for the screening I attended went to the Bay Area chapter of Make A Wish, which is responsible for SF Batkid, who received a lot of press last year. Anyone can request a local screening at wearebatman.com.
Another interesting fact that came up during Q&A was that Legends of the Knight really was inspired by Batman. In order to find people to include in the movie, Culp Googled “inspired by Batman” to reach out to individuals whose lives had been changed because of the Dark Knight. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that it would be so simple.
Once the ball got rolling on the production of the movie, people would find Culp and reach out to him to be included in the film. Some of the stories made it, and others didn’t. Many people would send him messages saying that they had the biggest collection of Batman stuff in the country. His response? “That’s awesome! How does that help make the world a better place?
Batman is such an important figure in our culture because we have made him so. He has helped shape us as fans, and we have helped shape him. He is more than any one artist, writer, or producer, and Brett Culp has shown us that in a beautifully inspiring documentary.
The one thing he wanted his audiences to take away from seeing Legends of the Knight is that each person should realize "There’s a little Batman in me, too. How can I use it to make a difference?”
A fantastic message for a fantastic film.
There are so many more things I could say about this movie, Brett Culp, or the stories involved, but I feel as though I’m beginning to ramble. I will probably be coming back to this subject again eventually.
I encourage all of you to order a copy of the Blu-ray or DVD online, or to attend or request a screening. It is definitely worth your time.