September 07, 2003

A Year Ago Today: Death Knights

Death Knights!: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal

"Oooh!" the twelve-year-old whispered, clearly excited. "Death Knights!"

We were watching the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. The Nazgul, the Ringwraiths, the Dark Riders, the terrible servants of the Dark Lord Sauron had just appeared on the screen for the first time. I am transported to Tolkien's Middle-Earth. But the twelve-year-old saw The Lord of the Rings as a knock-off copy of the computer game Warcraft, itself a descendant of Dungeons and Dragons, itself a descendant of Tolkien's universe. I looked over at the twelve-year-old. He was clearly loving it--but the "it" wasas much what he sees as a renaming and a translation to the screen of the battles between the Horde and the remnants of Azeroth and Loredan that he has fought on the computer, as much as the raw power of the vision of Tolkien's fevered brain. He sees the Ringwraiths as the anti-paladins of the Horde from Warcraft.

Afterwards there was much discussion of whether a ranger like Strider could "really"--with the canons of reality set by the "rangers" in Warcraft--be as competent and as powerful as he is in the movie.

I wondered: is he being cheated? It's supposed to be hard for people to appreciate Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" today because so many of his narrative devices and visual set-pieces have been copied in innumerable, worse movies. On the other hand, the themes and stories are damned powerful--that's why they resonate, that's why they have been copied so often.

Posted by DeLong at September 7, 2003 12:01 AM | TrackBack


The Seven Samurai - greatest movie ever made. I feel sorry for those who can't appreciate it. Then again, who gets to see it anymore? The old revival theaters where I discovered it in my youth are mostly gone and you'll only buy/rent it on video if you're lucky to have heard about it.

Posted by: Phil P on September 8, 2003 07:51 AM

Glad to welcome another Seven Samurai fan - for my money, the greatest movie ever made. Unfortunately, a lot of younger people won't even watch anything in black and white anymore.

Posted by: Phil P on September 8, 2003 08:11 AM

Great post. Kurosawa is generally wonderful IMO, as is Toshiro Mifune who had a great Danish film named after him.
U2 had a song, "Even Better Than The Real Thing." My brother thought Pepsi should use it.

Posted by: John Isbell on September 8, 2003 11:26 AM
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