The Struggle for Freedom
This issue of the Angler is dedicated to freedom. There are countless films which deal with the topic in one way or another, yet I must limit myself to reviewing three. I
have selected two current films, and one that is a timeless classic – all explicitly dealing with freedom in their own way.
300: Rise of an Empire – A Freedom That Cannot be Subdued
This is the second film from the 300 series and it is a very interesting one at that. Rise of an Empire (2014) is a sort of prequel to what happens in the original 300 film, showing both the past and present whilst it continues the story from the point where we left Leonidas’ 300brave.
I very much enjoyed this film as it gave a ton of context for the proceedings of the original 300 film, as well as adding a whole new layer to the story – practically showing the war from two whole new points of view. New characters are introduced, and the ones we know from the original 300 are provided with a more detailed back-story and therefore become deeper characters.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that even though this is a film about war and set in ancient Greece, there is room for not only one, but two very strong female main characters. Lina Headly (Queen Gorgo) performs marvellously in the film, as well as Eva Green (Atremisia), the other female lead.
Freedom, or the fight for it, is central to the theme of this film. Greece is under siege from the mighty Persian god-king Xerkes, and to win their independence as a nation, all the small kingdoms must unite under one banner to defeat the bigger foe. The movie seems to scream: Together we are strong enough to fight off the largest enemy as long as we stand united.
The film met mixed reviews when it came out, but if you are a fan of the artistic fightscenes of the original 300, the prequel promises more spectacular maritime war action – with a side dish of the actual tactics used in the famous battles at sea.
12 Years a Slave – A Gruesome Flashback
This (2013) film is based on a true story, where we follow the freeman Solomon and the trials and daily life he goes through on his path to freedom. Life as a freeman in the antebellum Northern states of America was dangerous – as slavers from the South were constantly poaching for new “stock”. Solomon is captured and shipped off to slavery – without papers he is no free man anymore.
The film is a heart rendering historical piece, based on what life was like for the black slaves in the era before the American Civil War. The slaves’ struggles and inhuman conditions are on display juxtaposed with the beauty of the nature and man-made structures of the wild South.
Freedom, or the pursuit thereof, stands central throughout the film. The contrast between the free white population and their black counterparts is a tangible presence throughout the course of the film. The fact that the film is based on the true account of Solomon Northup gives the story more of an impact, as it is constantly at the back of the audience’s head while watching the story play out.
must warn the audience though, even though this film is critically acclaimed, and rightly so, the contents are graphic, and little effort is made to conceal the gruesome way errant slaves were corporally punished – or the miniscule reasons they were punished for.
Braveheart – The Fight for Independence
This Mel Gibson (1995) classic is the very epitome of freedom-inspiring cinematography. The audience follows William Wallace’s ignition of the Scots, as they fight to become independent of the oppressing rule of the English. The English crown, ruling over the Scottish, has found it to their pleasure to invoke the right of “Primae Noctis” – the right to deflower any Scottish bride on the eve of her wedding. This, alongside countless other insults to their nation, causes the Scottish folk to object against the tyranny of the English reign, and a civil war blossoms.
Young William Wallace grows up in a tumultuous nation, and witnesses the gruesome face of war first hand on many occasions. Personal loss, love and a fierce pride in his nation finally turn the boy into a man who is ready to assume the mantle of leadership and lead a nation toward the ultimate goal: uniting the Scots to fight for their freedom.
If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it to you, dear reader – or if you have seen it before, it is well worth re-watching. The love for the nation and the will to fight for freedom is a struggle which is still very much present in the global media today. I find it fascinating that this film, set in the Scottish highlands in the 13th Century and telling a story so old, can be so very topical today.
The final scene of the movie is as relevant to the theme of our issue as it could be [Spoiler Alert] – we all know it; the iconic scene as William Wallace is tortured and going to be executed for his leading role in the Scottish rebellion – right before he draws his final breath his final words ring loud and strong: Freedom!!
And with this final movie review I take my farewells, dear Angler readers. I have had a blast writing for you! Hopefully you will continue to watch films and enjoy cinematography alongside the fine literature assigned to you in the literature classes. I shall miss writing for you dearly, and if you ever find yourself in Norway, make sure to stop by and say hi!
By Benny Baumann