The inspirational power of comic book superheroes - and Batman, in particular - is the subject of Brett Culp's powerful documentary, Legends Of The Knight.
Culp looks at people who've been inspired by the Batman story to battle incredible hardship as well as those who use the Batman story and iconography to inspire others.
Already quite heart-breaking in places, there's an added level of poignancy when Lenny Robinson, famous for touring children's wards across America dressed as Batman, is being interviewed and profiled for all the amazing work he did when you realise he was killed just a month ago in a car accident.
The spine of the documentary is the story of Michael Uslan, executive producer of all eight of the modern Batman movies, and his determination to not only take the Batman franchise seriously but also to treat comic books as serious art and literature.
Woven around this are interviews with academics who have drawn on the Bat-mythology for their work, as well as Bat-fans such as superheroic journalist Jill Pantozzi, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at a young age, and Denny O'Neil, the legendary comic book storyteller who wrote and edited Batman’s tales for 20 years.
The film examines how the folklore surrounding Batman has transcended the comic book page, TV and movie screen, and taken on a life of its own as people, young and old, create their own Batman stories to empower themselves (such as five-year-old leukemia patient Kye Sappor) or for the betterment of their communities (e.g. the Petaluma Batman, who reminded me of Tunbridge Wells' very-own Ring-Pull Man).
From small children to a police captain, a rabbi to a college professor, the interviewees in Legends Of The Knight continually reinforce the power of Batman's narrative, and of storytelling, to effect positive change in the world around us.
The Blu-Ray edition of the 75-minute documentary includes an hour of cut footage as well.
Legends Of The Knight has screened theatrically in more than 100 cities around the world, raising over $70,000 for charitable organizations and the families they serve. The film is also available on Netflix in North America.
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