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The Man Who Laughs

Due to the fact The Dark Knight did so well this summer I've decided to watch some of the films that inspired the performances. According to Roger Ebert, The Man Who Laughs, inspired Heath Ledger's amazing Joker.

The film follows Victor Hugo's story about a future Peer of London who was disfigured as a child. A smile was carved into his face. He finds a blind baby in the middle of a snow storm, and then finds his surrogate father's house. His surrogate father turns him into a circus clown, and everyone laughs at him.

One can see the genesis of Ledger's Joker in the character of Gwenplain. Yet, because Gwenplain is so mild mannered it seems like Ledger is standing up for him.