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Joker and the Man who laughs, just to be clear

“εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον”
(‘He came to His Property, and His ones did not accept Him’).
(From the Gospel according to saint John,
also quoted in V. Hugo’s ‘the Man who laughs’).

Crazy about Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, we have always had an ill-concealed disappointment about the possibility that our Hero Gwynplaine could have inspired the Joker, a negative character, a villain, dressed as a dandy but with that villain purple-violet that has always characterized the bad ones.
Nor will ever be tolerable anyone who speaks without knowledge of the cause.
Nor, above all, the reading of the ‘the Man who laughs’ leaves anyone who has faced it as shallow as he was before.
Anyone who has read the Book is perfectly aware of how deep, sublime, even devastating the adventure can be.
The quotations that later literature, cinema and other arts have recognized him are innumerable, certainly impossible to be listed here. When one mentions it, however, precisely because of the already mentioned depth, he can quotes it in pieces, just extrapolating some atoms of meaning.

In his artbook – autobiography ‘Jerry and the Joker’ (Dark Horse, 2017), Jerry Robinson, the first hour historian of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, tells the genesis of what is probably one of Batman’s best antagonists. He tells of a frantic search in the drawers of the house, looking for a deck of cards and, from these, the perfect image for what had flashed in his mind.
Robinson also tells that Bill Finger, after having seen in a magazine the photo of the actor Conrad Veidt, rigged to act in ‘The Man Who Laughs’ (1928), showed it to him too, considering it suitable . *

Our belief is that the inspiration, if it really happened in the terms described above, had been merely iconic, free from any psychological or spiritual ambition.

With regards to the excellent ‘Joker’ by Todd Phillips, some veiled quotations seem to be found. On the other hand, it turns out that the director explicitly said he was also indebted to the Book **.
It seems to us that some categories can be examined, such as, for example, the humbles vexed by the powerful, the cynicism of the powerful, the laughter that has become ‘physiological’, and is not not to be expunged any further… (as for the laughter, Christopher Nolan used a more… incisive interpretation, in ‘The Dark Knight’).
Above all, and it is perhaps the highest passage, the fact that he went to what he believed to be His Property and that ‘His ones’ did not welcome him.
Our conclusion is that Todd Phillips used some elements of Victor Hugo’s novel ‘The Man Who Laughs’ to give his Joker a thickness, three-dimensionality and a chance of identification that he would not have otherwise.
And that, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix aside, as far as in our humble opinion, he will never have.

* see Conte, Filippo, Il Joker, dai fumetti agli altri media, for Fumettologica.it
** we are also able to tell an interesting anecdote. It is in the ‘Demons’ that Fiodor Michailovic Dostoeevsky defines ‘The Man Who Laughs’ the Book. By pure chance, we happened to read ‘The Man Who Laughs’ and the ‘Demons’ in the same period, without anyone having informed us of the quote.

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