Joker's fake death cut?
Apparently there's a scene in The Dark Knight where Heath Ledger as The Joker is zipped up into a body bag and pretends to be dead. Now that this has been seen by test audiences who have made the studio think twice about including it in the final film.
I saw this story last night and decided to digest it over night – I was in a fowl mood yesterday – and the more I thought about it the more I wondered if this was really an issue.
It all lies with why the scene is being considered for the cutting room floor, and even if it actually is at all. According to the source through Cinema Blend they are considering removing the scene altogether because of the reaction from those test audiences, but there's no other word of if they will or not. I do suspect that those at the screenings were not privy to the conversations of the studio executives afterwards.
If Heath Ledger weren't dead there would be no issue with the film-makers, not the actor, making the decision on cutting moments from a film and not using them, but because of the similarities to real life it is becoming an issue because we think that Heath Ledger would have wanted the scene to remain, ultimately though, the decision always lies with the director, editor, producers and the studio.
It's a slightly different way of looking at the whole situation than the studio removing the scene because it shows the character that Heath Ledger plays being put into a body bag.
That said, I could see the situation where the studio would panic over something like this and want to take the scene out, and I just wonder how much more it affects the narrative of the story.
I think that this decision needs to be left to the film-makers and we have to trust them not to just remove a scene because some people got a little upset at the imagery - after all the film isn't for children - and if they decide to keep it in then they'll do so for the film as a whole, not just for Heath Ledger.
The only problem here is if the studio smell monetary loss and leap on the bandwagon and apply undue pressure to the film-makers to remove it, but can you see that happening with such a big director and cast? I suspect they might be able to push back a little themselves.
What do you think, should the scene be removed from The Dark Knight or not, or should it be left in the hands of the film-makers and we just await the final result? Would Ledger be so upset seeing his body bag scene removed?