Goose-bump moments. We all know them. Whether we’re watching a movie or reading a great book, they’re those moments that pull on your heartstrings and really make you feel the power of the moment.
We feel something very real for these fictional characters. It awakens something deep inside of us that nothing quite compares to. Whether its the final stand of the brave band of warriors, or the fighters riding out for death and glory to protect their homes, something just touches us about heroes.
These moments are often remembered by what’s said right before the hammer drops. Prayers, incantations, inspirational words, regardless of the form they take, these last words are what really impact us. We sit through cavalry charges in books and movies all the time. People fight for their life in almost any book. But, nothing quite drives home what’s about to happen like a good speech. Most of the time these speeches call others to arms, or show a recognition of death. They call the warriors to courage, to honor, to protect what they hold most dear.
One of the best examples I can think of is the final prayer of the viking warriors in “The 13th Warrior”. Now, this movie has a lot of issues with costuming, and some of the dialogue in the beginning is a bit on the cheesy side. But, it’s undeniably one of my favorite movies. The prayer they give for Odin to take them to their loved ones in death is not a real prayer, but it is indeed based on one recorded by Ibn Fadlan (who is a character in the movie himself) in his journey among the Volga Bulgars. These surviving men are fighting to protect their people, and the helpless in the homes they are trying to defend.
The prayer goes as follows:
“Lo, there do I see my Father. Lo, there do I see my Mother and my Brothers and my Sisters. Lo, there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. They do bid me to take my place among them in the Halls of Valhalla, where the Brave may live forever . . . ”
And yes, the man who plays Weath, the red-haired man, is indeed Tony Curran, now more popular as Datak Tarr in “Defiance”.
There’s another great example of the epic battle speech that comes from The Battle of Pelennor Fields. Now, there are a LOT of epic speeches in “The Lord of the Rings”. Theoden’s earlier speech in the Hornburg, Aragorn’s words before the Battle of the Morannon, among others. But, I fully believe that Theoden’s words before the assumed suicidal charge for the salvation of Gondor and the Rohirrim back home are the most impacting. Even in the books, the scene is one of the more profound in literature.
Ah, seven hells, I’ll throw in another Theoden video because he’s my favorite human Lord of the Rings character.
“Fel deeds awake; now for wrath, now for ruin, and a red dawn!”
The second speech is short and sweet. Because of that it’s very effective at conveying the urgency of the situation, and the hopelessness of their charge. Here they really are fighting to protect their wives, their fathers, their children, everyone that they love and hold dear. Like the first video from “The 13th Warrior” this is more of an incantation or prayer of power and death than a rousing battle speech.
There’s no shortening of epic words in literature either. Odysseus, Hektor, Achilles, Roland, Beowulf, Aslan, Siegfried, Sigurd, Brynhyldhr, Arthur, Tristan, Lancelot, Guinevere, Gawain, etc. Almost every great work is marked by great speeches and speakers.
The power of words to inspire the soul and affect the mind is limitless in both literature and film.
These kind of scenes are the ones that, if perfectly captured, can make a piece or writing or a movie transcend the general body and become truly memorable.
Until next time!