". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Outlaw King: Robert the Bruce vs. Edward I and II

     . . . . Outlaw King -- Friday's Big Deluge concluded about the time the presentation concluded (Netflix Original, went up Friday, as well as opening in some theaters in some cities).

Battles and fighting, lots of it.  Gorgeous location photography.  Politics and the rest of it, in terms of the Bruce and Scotland's independence as a kingdom, little. More than one veteran of GOT in the cast.  I wouldn't have wanted to spend 18 dollars in a theater for this, though it was just fine to look at (not a whole lot of CGI, and that very tactful and slick).  Not enough of anything else.  Give me The Last Kingdom!  That's how I like it!

OTOH, it was perfect for yet another gloomy, cold, windy and wet night that penned me indoors.

The horses though, the horses.  I really hope none were hurt in the course of making this -- their injuries and killing and going down in the battles looked awfully real. (I didn't see the usual disclaimer one sees in these films that any animals were harmed in the course of the making of the film.)

I appreciated showing how battles so often are won by so much more than fighting skills, but particularly by cunning and 

knowledge of the territory -- as The Music Man tells us. It was appreciated surely on many fronts that the Scots were shown not wearing kilts, as indeed, would be the case at the the end of the 13th, start of the 14th centuries.

In terms of historical detail and event it was so superior to Braveheart that they're not in the same category.  However, the Bruce and Prince Edward / King Edward II never slugged it out personally in the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1307. Nor was that the final battle of the struggle to regain Scotland's independence from the English throne -- years more of fighting were to come.  No was it the Bruce's wife put in a suspended cage as punishment for her refusal to repudiate the Bruce, but it was his sisters? I don't know that much about this history.

OTOH, knowing Bruce's Big Antagonist is Edward II, one didn't need to worry much about the ultimate fate of the Bruce, which was quite a relief in these days, when wants content to watch that allows a certain escape from the present wreckage wantonly committed by rancid toads without any education, intelligence or concept of social and civil life -- and responsibility of the ruling class to create and maintain space for family, community and environmental safety.

Though Bruce was given absolution for the murder of John Comyn, his rival for leadership and kingship, by the Scots bishops, the pope excommunicated him for the murder.

As the Bruce, Chris Pine did do admirably what he was able to do.  Maybe it's just his innate character, but there was a sweetness and generosity, along with the steel, that came through, which would indeed draw men to follow him (whether or not the historical Bruce had those qualities, I have no idea).  Yet Pine had to give us those thoughts all by ourselves.  Because, first of all, the film is actually very thin stuff, of posturing male competitions and mud, not of character, not theme, and not about any ideas, whether political or social.  The closest to characterization we get is being told Bruce a is good and honorable fellow who is The Best Fighter, and Prince Edward is -- well, he's not. 

There wasn't much opportunity for Pine to act. But he was an excellent choice for the role because without Pine's capacity to draw our eyes, and most of all, the landscape vistas themselves to draw the eyes, beyond guys hacking at each other, there's little to nothing there.

It would have been exciting to see the film investigate just what indeed causes a broad base of classes to follow one particular person at a particular time, to point of being willing to die. That the production didn't even try for that is why movies are almost always deeply disappointing.  If it had done that I'd have been interested enough to watch it again.

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