Sample Film and Theater studies Paper on Joker Response

The film Joker is an American psychological thriller produced and directed by Todd
Philips. The Joker was produced and distributed by Werner Bros. It premiered on August 31,
2019 in Venice and October 4, 2019 in the United States. The film starred Joaquin Phoenix
playing as Arthur Fleck, the joker. The story unfolds in 1981 in Gotham City. The Joker is
centered on Arthur Fleck, who is suffering psychological and mental problems as a result of
violent upbringing. The city of Gotham is filth with unemployment and crime. The wealthy, like
Thomas Wayne, have entrenched a narrative that most problems of the city are borne out of the
poor. After watching the film, I was able to identify three major themes. First, Arthur Fleck is
portrayed as an individual with mental illness, and the need for therapy is highly emphasized in
the film. Secondly, although many viewers missed it, Todd Philips brought out empathy and
sympathy. The power of kindness is clearly underestimated from the viewers’ and characters’
perspectives. The third theme is pain, violence and revenge meted against wrongdoers in
Arthur’s or Gotham residents’ perspective. The film’s title ‘Joker’ was rhetorical considering
Arthur’s painful life.
In the film, Gotham is portrayed as an unequal city. When Arthur Fleck brutally murders
three of Wayne Enterprises employees, Thomas Wayne, and the Media sensationalized the
killings as the poor’s envy against the wealthy. Todd Philips used politics sparingly to bring out
the issues facing Gotham city through Arthur’s struggles. I also think that most of the scenes
pitted the poor versus the wealthy to bring out social conflict in Gotham. I believe that the
demonstration carried out by the poor against the wealthy in Gotham is a clear indication of
dissatisfaction in the city (Philip, 2019).


The first theme that is prominent in the film is mental illness. Todd introduced to us
Arthur Fleck as an individual with a medical disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate
times. In real life, I have encountered people with similar mental problems. I agree with how the
film illuminated their struggles, especially the difficulty they face in integrating into society.
Arthur pursued a comic path and we watch him entertain children at a hospital. Arthur had a
violent and traumatic childhood. He was constantly abused when he was young, and her mother
had to protect him (Philip, 2019). Arthur started to take therapy sessions to help cure mental
problems. But after the first few sessions, it was indicative that he had real mental illness.
Considering that he was a child with a special medical condition, I thought that Todd was rather
harsh in portraying Arthur as a mentally ill-person and, at the same time, having experienced
violent upbringing. I empathized with Arthur when talk show host Murray Franklin mocked
Arthur’s previous comedy shows.
In relation to the second theme, after watching the film, I related to Todd’s main theme of
the power of kindness. I found everything about Arthur’s life to be sad. I sympathized with him.
It is a life that I would not wish for anyone. Sadly, most of the people acted with pretense around
him. Due to his medical condition, he laughed inappropriately at his stand-up shows. I was
saddened by the fact that the host of the Murray show ridiculed him. Arthur admired the show. I
felt that someone with Arthur’s condition is prone to suicide and after being bullied, ridiculed,
and ostracized, I thought he was going to commit suicide. I found most of the scenes to be tense
considering that there was no hero in the film. I thought it could have ended brutally for Arthur.
Additionally, I believe that lack of love, the lack of empathy in society, and childhood trauma to
be a real issue not only in films but in real life.


The third theme that is visible throughout the film is pain. The portrayal of Arthur as the
Joker in the film is not only rhetorical but also sad. Not only did Arthur experience a difficult
childhood, but he also faced harsh adulthood. Thomas Wayne denies the fact that he is his son.
He was betrayed by the people he thought loved him. For example, Randall gives him a gun and
later lied to the hospital management that Arthur bought the gun for himself (Philip, 2019).
Consequently, he is fired. Also, most of the residents of Gotham City share similar pain to
Arthur. In the film, I watched residents violently demonstrating against the wealthy. The film
ends in a violent manner. All murders in the film were painful and brutal. I felt that Todd gave
Arthur the mechanisms to take revenge or bring justice to those who had wronged him but sadly
brutally. Lastly, I liked the ending of the film with Arthur in a psychiatric prison at Arkham,
having fought his wrongdoers.
In conclusion, Todd used the character Arthur Fleck to depict mental illness problems
and the pain that patients experience in an unequal world. Although I do not agree with the
murders or delivery of justice, the film portrayed real problems that the mentally sick and the
poor undergo in society.


Philip, T. (2019). Joker. United States: