Why I Loved The Lord of The Rings

Why I Loved The Lord of The Rings

I love fantasy. When I was a small kid, I used to watch a lot of cartoons. Watching them, I got drawn to the fantastic elements. The things which were really impossible to perform in real life like making fire, flying, going from one place to another in the snap of a second, traveling to a world filled with exotic and wonderful creatures. These things can hold the attention any child, but not all of them can keep their love into teenage and adulthood. It is not a bad thing per se. People just get comfortable with reality and find their time accosted by it (or their minds have been shattered by society).
Even I have forgotten many of these fantasies.
However, there is one story filled with magic and such wonder, I and as well as the people well into their old age still have it in their minds and hearts and dream of it. They are still fascinated by it, amazed at such a tale was able to be told. It is none other than The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of The Rings is an epic fantasy story written by J. R. R. Tolkien. A story so long for it had to be published in three volumes, each volume consisting of six books.
Lord of The Rings has stood the test of time, transcending something akin to high literature without being overly boring, of course, which is quite an achievement. It has been adapted into animation, radio, stage, and the faithful live action movies.
The story has been much beloved and even critics can’t help but be lost somewhere along the way into analyzing it.
People love it for many reasons. Some love it for the great battles, others for the great epic heroes in the form of men and elves, of powerful wizards who are always on time ever late nor early. Not to forget, the movies gave the story, one of the most iconic soundtracks ever made. God bless Howard Shore. Excellent use of CGI also must be mentioned with the practical make-ups of the orcs and goblins.
I agree with all these sentiments, yet I must say, I like Lord of The Rings for different reasons entirely. These are small nuances, very subtle but felt altogether and serve as little details to the big picture which are very easy to miss. But, these are the most important aspects which make up the story. If these were taken out, I have no doubt in my mind, the story would completely fall apart what it truly meant to be. These are the heart and soul of Lord of The Rings and these are the reasons why I love The Lord of The Rings.
Be warned for I will take the reference of both books and movies, but it will be easy to follow through. Also, beware of spoilers!

The Importance of The Shire

The Shire is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place ever conceived in either page or film. It does not have the majestic marvel of the elves dwelling place Rivendell, or the magical warmth of Tom Bombadil’s house in the Old Forest, what it has is the simplistic nature of a countryside with holes in the ground. No, not smelly, dirty or wet holes filled with worms–hobbit holes, which mean comfort.
The Shire can be said to be the closest to a physical paradise. While there may be some pesky neighbors trying their best to get your house for themselves, and the folks might not like you adventuring around very much, it is still a lovely place.
The importance of The Shire lies in the fact in its timelessness. While the Elven realm’s splendor is maintained thanks to the three rings of power, and Tom Bombadil seems to possess immense power over the boundaries of his land, affecting them at his command, and while the race of Men has neglected the nature, the Shire stands by itself. There is no magic involved, just hobbits living there eating and celebrating their days and nights.
The Shire has even been able to endear itself to Gandalf, who has been all over Middle-Earth from olden days and has seen many wonderful places.
It is very much adored by all who visit, but the most who must have is none other than Frodo Baggins.
The very first scene in the movie (after the narration) is Frodo sitting under a tree, while ‘Concerning Hobbits’ plays in the background. Quite many of the first scenes of the first movie are taken of the Shire, such regard is not provided to the same extent to Rivendell or Lothlórien or Bree or Gondor. It is the Shire which holds precedence over all and for a very good reason.
To illustrate my point, Frodo agrees to be the ring-bearer, to take it to a journey to Rivendell nearly getting killed and even then volunteering to make the trek to Mount Doom in Mordor to destroy it. Frodo was a hobbit. He wasn’t foolish or very brave. He was not a fighter or a tactician.
Frodo was afraid, yet he found courage in his heart for he knew if the enemy gained the ring, his home could be destroyed. He did it for The Shire. Not for honor, glory or revenge, but simply to save his homeplace. He loved the Shire, as Bilbo Baggins had earlier said to Gandalf about how Frodo loved the Shire too much for him to go with Bilbo.
If this does not make you believe me, listen to the soundtrack. There are iterations of a piece you must hear from time to time in the three movies. They are named ‘Concerning Hobbits’, ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship’, ‘Many Meetings’, ‘Samwise the Brave’, and ‘The Return of the King’. If you check, you will find them listed under the heading called ‘The Sound of The Shire’.
The Shire was always there through out the books and movies.

The War Didn’t Matter

Now let me tell this out. By saying the war didn’t matter, I am not denying its severity in any form. War is hell. War brings the worst out of us. There are no winners, only those who are left. This is true to what J. R. R. Tolkien thought when he served in the first World War.
In the Lord of The Rings, the war is a looming threat driving the heroes to undertake the journey, but to me, I felt it just served as background noise, small and hushed to the real important things happening in the midst of it.
Many fantasy stories have some form of conflict in them in the form of war. In which the forces of evil and good fight to decide the victor. Literary epics like The Iliad, Romance of The Three Kingdoms, Mahabharata, etc, have large-scale wars in them. It is all about restoring order and justice. But Lord of The Rings is different. Yes, there is the threat of a war, but the story was never about the battle. Lord of The Rings acted as a subversion of war epics.
It may be very hard to understand in the amazing action scenes, but Lord of The Rings is a fantasy story where war was recognized as fruitless and so instead of themes like good vs. evil, vanquishing of the bad people, it is about preventing the war. The journey is not for honor, or glory, or respect, as pointed earlier and added further, it is to protect Middle-Earth and its inhabitants. All the kings, knights and elves are doing it to protect Middle-Earth, just like Frodo is doing it to protect the Shire.
It seems people seem to forget about it (especially those who have watched the films). It must be because, in the latter two of the three films, characters like Gandalf and Aragorn were put in the front. Their task was to gather support, rally their men, fight for Helm’s Deep and prepare for the worst, while Frodo’s journey was given lesser gravity. I can understand this in making the movies show more exciting stuff, but it did hamper the meaning of the story by a little bit.
At the end, there was a little skirmish but, the war was stopped before it could gather a bigger flame. It was an epic fantasy where war was stopped. Stopping the war was a greater priority than fighting the war.

The Quiet and The Voiced

There are scenes in the trilogy of both the films and the books, where nothing happens, where characters just stay there and moments are quiet. Other times they keep talking on and on. Now, from a general perspective, it does not advance the plot much. The quiet moments could be cut off and the conversations could be exchanged for action to convey the information, but I feel taking these things out will take away from experiencing the true beauty of the story.
I watched the films first before I read the books. I didn’t know the part of the story which was spent in Farmer Maggot’s farm. So while I read the book, I, myself, had the urge to skip this side bit. But, as I read it, I found a certain charm in the following part of the book. Reading passage after passage, I found myself in the low lights of Farmer Maggot’s house, and at the dinner table. I saw him, his family, the tired hobbits bathing and singing a song they learned from Bilbo. The anxiety of Frodo with Farmer Maggot for he used to steal in his younger days and kindness of the farmer.
Again, cut from the films, the meeting with Tom Bombadil. The enigmatic, strange and master of the Old Forest, meeting Goldberry, the trick with the ring, it was more than just mere world-building, it was enjoying the story not to finish it, not to reach the final destination, but to immerse in the journey which was being undertaken. The threat of the enemy loomed above constantly, but the magic of the world could not be denied.
Similarly, the characters talk a lot in this movie. There is a lot of exposition, but it is in a way which is made believable in the context of the journey. But these interactions give them a sense of presence. Most of the time, in movies and stories, only the important dialogues are shown, which are rich in exposition but lack emotion and weight. This is a kind of mistake, to only show what is important. Yes, it makes for a tighter paced story but it will start to feel unreal. Reading some of the newer novels, like even the one I have liked very much, they seem to feel like somebody has compiled all the action scenes of a movie and uploaded it.
The books have started to feel incredibly fast like there is no moment to relax, and of course, it is made to be more interesting, making sure the reader will turn every page, utilizing cliff hangers, snappy dialogues, witty remarks at the end of a conversation. The books seem to be trying too hard to pull the reader into the story instead of trying to let the reader follow it at their own pace. At times, even a medium-sized novel becomes exhausting and makes me want to just get from everyday life.
However, even as long as a movie The Lord of The Rings is, it is never exhausting. The pacing is never off, there is a sense of progression. The dialogue is not only for exposition or character development, but they are there for emotion, just small talk as friends would do on a journey. In layman’s terms, they feel natural.
There are no unimportant details to be taken out. Everything is there to be read, to be enjoyed being read. Everything is there to be watched and enjoyed being watched. What makes this occurrence in the books quite logical is J. R. R. Tolkien wanted to write a story for himself. He wasn’t an author, but a professor. Simply, he was not an author. He was a writer writing a story which he wanted to enjoy.

Conclusion

Lord of The Rings has a special place in my heart among many other people. Its great world-building, lore, themes, and narrative still have me spellbound after all these years. It is not an epic perse, it is not the journey of a king, or queen, or knight. It is the journey of a hobbit, a simple creature with loyal friends by his side, who shaped the landscape of all ages to come. For while great men keep their eyes far out, it is the simple men, gentle and kind, who remain true in dark times.
I would like to end this essay on this quote by Gandalf which I feel, summarizes the essence of what I loved about it.

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.

The Art Of The Comic Tragedy

The Art Of The Comic Tragedy

I do not like tragedy very much. I always have tried to avoid sad stories with tragic elements for I grow despondent with life and actually get a depression after the final credits roll for the movie. This feeling of despair and sadness I develop stays for a long long time. I can’t seem to forget the particular movie no matter how hard I try. I don’t necessarily hate the use of tragedy or the idea of tragedy itself. After all, it helps us grow.
But still, I would at least like to wash my socks without dropping my tears all over the place, thank you very much.
But the tragedy is not something even the hardcore fans would appreciate if it didn’t have some form of levity. Something to tell them it was still alright. Hence, there is the genre of tragic comedy or tragicomedy.
It can be said the people from old times would not appreciate their plays to only be able to depress them and lose their faith in humanity. Shakespeare, the heart-breaker, found about it. Thus comedy was integrated into tragedy for the betterment of it.
But good things come at a price. Tragic comedies are difficult to execute properly. Too much comedy and the tragic elements fall flat or may feel insulting. Too much tragedy, the comedic elements will not derive a laugh and may again, feel insulting. In short, tragic comedies were hard to make. Even for Shakespeare.
Even to this very day, the makers struggle this constant effort of making them. They fail a lot. How to make someone laugh and cry without one overpowering the another?
But then, there was already a master of this craft. He is not modern by any means. He was the very only Charlie Chaplin.

the-actor-charlie-chaplin

He was the master of the Art of Tragic Comedy and he did it with the iconic character of The Tramp.

charlie-chaplin-cp-1322466_8722

Now, what makes the adventures of the Tramp which was commercialized as silent comedies appear so tragic in the first place? If you can’t see it in the previous line, let me tell you myself. The tragedy is being a tramp, a hobo, a poverty-stricken man, who roams around trying to make ends meet. Now, on initial viewings, it does not appear so.
The Tramp is a confident and rather charming fellow in a bowler hat, a suave mustache, and a suit. He walks as if he in wonder with the whole world. It becomes even more likely for the audience to find the tramp as a hero or a winner. More likely to find it in his short films.
The tragedy lies in his actions and so does the comedy. The Tramp is an active character, someone who drives the story of the film. He does it by getting a crush on a girl or by getting a job. He can also be a passive one. He reacts to the stuff happening around him.
One great way to see the low life of the Tramp is what he smokes. The tramp smokes a cigarette. In old times, the high class smoked cigars while the low class could afford only cigarettes. It was a statement with negative undertones for both of the people. Also cancer.
The soundtrack helps us understand the Tramp. When the Tramp is not in a chase scene or kicking the behind of a law enforcer, a somber music plays instead of the cartoony, fast music. The music gives a sad vibe, which the audience can feel and seeing the Tramp moving from places to places, all alone with no friends, can help us empathize with the character.In extreme cases, it can sadden our moods too. However, the Tramp on the screen is goofy. Spinning his laughably thin walking stick, slipping on banana peels, or stumbling on rocks, the Tramp is always doing something which lightens the mood.
And that is the genius of it. The audience can feel for the character but still laugh at him in sympathy and connection. This is one aspect Charlie Chaplin did right.
There is a scene in The Kid where the eponymous kid is tried to be taken from the Tramp by the orphanage cause the Tramp is not the father. As the two men enter the Tramp’s room, they and the tramp get into a slapstick fight. The other calls a cop and two men grab the Tramp while the third one picks up the struggling child who is screaming for the Tramp. While the tramp tries to get out, the kid is put in the automobile and we see his crying face as he begs to return back.
There is a cut to the Tramp being held between the two men, with his own face in fear and grief, maybe being able to hear the kid’s cries from down below. The sheer intensity and emotion in this scene with no dialogues except the incredible score which plays following it convey far greater than anything I have yet to see.
This is a sad scene. This is tug at our heartstrings. This is a tragic scene. But, Chaplin does not let it overpower all our senses. The Tramp is able to get loose and escapes to the roof through the window while the automobile goes off with the kid. The Tramp frantically tries to catch up to the car while the policeman follows and even punches the policeman in retaliation and into submission. This scene is meant to be comedic. But the comedy here also is accompanied by the heavy music.
The Tramp catches up to the car and jumps on it, throwing off the previous man with a short fight, kicking him out of the car (the Tramp really loves to kick people).
Reunited, the Tramp and the kid hug each other, crying and kissing. They are together again.

thekid_large

This heartwarming scene is amazing cause it does not interfere with the comedic scene before. It works in compliment with it. Sadness and happiness, always being balanced out by comedy. Here too the heartwarming scene does not overstay it’s welcome. When the car finally stops and the driver looks back to find the Tramp and the kid hugging, his astonishment brings out a laugh.
Furthermore, the deadpan look Charlie gives when he realizes that the driver is looking at him and jumping to give him a severe beating is just gold. The driver very wisely runs away.
Another great way of mixing tragedy and comedy is shown in Modern Times. In it, the industrial revolution is in full swing. The machines are getting faster and more efficient than the workers. Our hero works like mad in a factory, screwing bolts on a piece of machinery as hundreds and thousands pass by on a conveyor belt. It goes on and on and on. There is little time to rest. Not even a millisecond. Even then, the scene which seems soul-rending is shown in a comedic scene, where our hero’s wrench gets stuck on a bolt, leading to a fight between him and another worker beside him who hammers the pieces. Then, there is a break which is laughable cause the Tramp only gets to take a puff of a cigarette (again the class order) until he is called back to go at his job again. It starts again which is madness. And the character follows through. The Tramp has a nervous breakdown where he tries to screw everything in sight. Tries to destroy machines and acts like crazy.
moderntimes2a
All this is presented in a comedic way. The infernal work, the inhumane break time, and the nervous breakdown. But these things were happening all over the country. This would all seem very tragic for when we find the workers are fired from the factory a few scenes later. But the comedy handles it and lets us enough time to dwell on it but not drown in it.
There are works of Charlie Chaplin which dwell on more of the tragic elements than on the comedic ones. One is which I find is The Circus. The circus is a place where people go to laugh and enjoy. It has tightrope walkers, clowns, lions, cannons, jugglers, a huge assortment of people and acts of entertainment. But in The Circus, we get to see behind the curtain. Turns out the circus is not a place of charm and delight. It is controlled by a ringmaster who also happens to be the owner. He is not above refuse food for her daughter, just for missing a step during the act. If the clowns cannot make the people laugh, they are berated and threatened with firing. For all the pomp, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus paints a depressing picture of the lives of the performers. But as usual, The Tramp does not let us stick to this thought, for he is constantly creating his own chaos throughout the film. There is innocence, humor, charm, all there in service to the art.
In the end, we see the Tramp leaving the Circus, having only stayed for the affection of the ringmaster’s daughter who had come to love the new tightrope walker. It is a tearjerker, seeing the Tramp sitting down as the circus rides away.
thecircus
He throws away the circus cloth he’s been staring at, collects himself and then walks away from the camera in quite a funny style. Again, the tragedy is not dragged out long. A light of hope is presented at the end in the form of comedy. This small scene alleviates the whole show. It is not a climax, there is no tension but it a wrapping up like a goodbye.
Now there is anything more we can say about the pure genius of Chaplin. Yes, those are two words. City Lights. It is available on youtube. I consider it one of Chaplin’s magnum opus. A film that transcended it’s medium and told us that tragedy and comedy are not separate, not extreme ends of a spectrum but, in reality, maybe one and the same. All we need is to look deeper, to find both the laughs and the tears.

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.
– Charlie Chaplin

I Have Grown Up

I Have Grown Up

Well, there is no more to it. I am 19 now. I am old. But I don’t feel old unless I look at somebody younger than me or stare at the name of my institution. I am in college now. And old people go to college. Time seemed to have moved faster than I ever expected. Or maybe it was just me not paying attention. Every day keeps passing and every other day feels the same, as if I have been living the same day over and over. I don’t know what I am supposed to look upto when I wake up everyday. I wake up to go through what I always have. A monotonous and mundane recurring schedule.

I have hopes and aspirations, yet I don’t feel I am doing enough to achieve them. Everything I do feels little in the scale of things I don’t do. I am bored. Extremely so. I, myself, am the cause of my boredom. I am the one who is haunting me in this world.

I feel I have so little time. But I know this is just an illusion. A day is a day. But I feel I cannot do anything in a day or even a year. One year goes by another and everything still feels the same. If things don’t change, I am supposed to bring forth change right?

I bring some change. Sometimes I jolt awake full of energy and enthusiasm. I smile and I laugh and try to make it different, to make it better. The change does not do anything. It is like trying to full an elastic, sooner you let go and find it is back to how it was. You can’t keep pulling on forever and you are exhausted after that and disappointed.

I have grown up. There was no sense in denial. There was no sense of wonder in it. It was only that I was older than I was before. Less happier, but none the wiser.

I was less alive I suppose. There were chains, heavily and full of rust. Old ones. They bound many before me and now they wanted me in their clutches. They didn’t hurt, they just suffocated. Everybody went through this silently as possible. Was somebody hearing us? Waiting around the corner to say, “Hey, don’t dawdle. Act like you are supposed to act.”

It was a curse. It was needed. It was me growing up.

Frustration

Frustration

I never really thought myself as an angry person. I did keep my calm at many times in my life. People being arrogant, insults, general plain nastiness. I was never angry. I was always in control. Until, I found out that it was not anger which I was supposed to be afraid of.
I was supposed to be afraid of frustration. If anger was a short madness, frustration was like a psychotic episode put on a gradually growing cycle. I thought I could ignore it. And I did. I pretended to ignore it, making it grow more easily. I was so blind and too proud at myself for being able to control my anger that I let myself fall a victim, and at the same time rising as the sole criminal, my crime to myself. Thinking about it again, it didn’t stop to grow, it rather sped up.
Frustration seemed to follow me at every step of my life. They were always there, silently gnawing in the dark. When I shone a light at it, it didn’t matter. They just kept chewing.
Anger stopped when I found it, frustration just stayed there. It never went away. But the thing about frustration was, it was not confrontational like anger. Anger could be calmed down, or forcibly dragged back into the depths of our being. But frustration was different. It was easy to move it, but it was shackled by life’s miseries.
It is why frustration was so frustrating. It was not our fault that it kept haunting us. It was because we were unable to change, the little and big details. We just could not change them and so frustration would always build up over and over.
It was weird how much I thought I was in control of myself. I always knew the external happenings were always out of order, but at least what was inside me, I thought I could control. Sad to say, It is not. But I had to face it.
Maybe someday, these limitations will no longer be there. Until then, I will just have to keep a close watch in the dark and not forget that I am not in control, yet I will not be ignorant again.

My First Writing Contest

My First Writing Contest

Many of you guys know that my first ever story to have been penned by me was ‘My Closest Stranger’. It was the first ever serious story I had ever written for an online literary magazine and to be honest, it was just a chance that I saw it in an English newspaper in my school’s library. I did not win, sadly and quite cruelly if I may say so, but the contest was something that was something akin to a proper push which pulled me deeper into the pages of this hobby. But my first competition dates back to when I had yet to change schools and was even a few grades back, maybe three or four before doing so.

I have very well forgotten the exact date, the grade I was in, and even the topic is smudged in my mind, when such event was organized in our school for the very first time and sadly also the last time up to the memory of my departure from my old school. But I do remember the rest of the key events which occurred and as I look back on the incident, I can’t help but shake my head on how it proceeded and how it came to an end.

My very first competition was not for story or poetry, but for an essay, which was quite alright with me because I happened to write essays quite a lot, and had not even written a word for either a story or poem. Essays were my first enthusiastic approach to writing. Regularly our English teacher used to provide us with essay topics and they were a constant high marks question in the exams. I simply loved writing them. I, while being good at grammar, found the ‘Fill in the blanks’ and ‘Correct the sentence’ quite tedious and dull and boring and monotonous and sleep inducing as possible. And even essays were not quite off the mark. It could be so long until writing on ‘My School’, ‘My Country’, ugh ‘Society’, ‘Social Evils’, became absolutely horrible. I used to search for unconventional topics to see if I could write on it. Like ‘A Perspective View on Perception’. Yep, I have written it. I don’t think I want it to see the light of day or the shine of the moon.

So came the time of the contest. The participants were taken to a classroom and made to sit. I too was at one of the desks. We were then given a topic and a paper and not to forget a freaking time limit. It was not a contest. It was more like a test. So much for writing. This was putting out the most you could. Well, I don’t remember the topic very well but it had to creativity or education. And that I mentioned, Albert Einstein in it. One hundred percent sure about that fact.

Well, the event started and so did our pens. I took a moment and started writing myself. Well, it was an hour before we were told that the time was up. I believe I wrote a little more than two pages. Well, I felt pretty good about myself.

So the next day or maybe the day after, I was in the assembly line when it was announced that I won the essay competition. Well, I was called forward and I did so. It was quite awkward. I didn’t like the eyes of the students as I stepped up to the teachers. And then, I was given a pen as a prize. I was already quite happy. I had won and the pen was just sort of an icing on the cake.

That was until I knew later that the fountain pen was not my real prize. The prize was a surprise up til the very end but was fixed beforehand to be a stack of notebooks. What happened to it? They said it was not there were it was last kept. So at the last moment, they substituted for a pen. That melted the icing pretty fast.
But it was not the end.

I met the judges. They were just senior students. I thought that they would be English teachers or at least teachers. Why did they have to be teenagers? Well, I asked them how they liked and said as I had won, it must have been pretty good. They replied they made me win cause it was good. But I could, even though young, get the hidden meaning behind the words: they chose me as the winner and I should be thankful that they did. Well, every sense of accomplishment had run its course after that. I must not have not even celebrated my winning till the lunch break. After then, it really changed my view on competitions. Regarding that somewhere it would be due to a favor or whim of the judge.

Well, it was a somber day and it was no less important. That day taught me that, when you write, you do in hiding, for where in that hidden place, lies the beautiful.

The Joker In The Hand: Battlefield 1

The Joker In The Hand: Battlefield 1

***The following article contains heavy spoiler for the chapter (War Story) ‘Friends In High Friends’ of Battlefield 1 developed by EA DICE.***

Battlefield is a first-person shooter loosely based on World War I and being it’s over-arching theme. It got a good reception from the gaming community for bringing one of the revolutionizing history back into the spot light.

This piece of writing is not a review but instead is a light analysis on one of it’s chapters of it’s main campaign, the war story called ‘Friends In High Places’. Each war story has a different character to control and also does this war story, a man called Clyde Blackburn.

clyde

Clyde Blackburn is an American soldier who describes himself as “I’m a pilot and a gambler. If you ask me to name my biggest fault, I’d have to tell you I’m just not a very honest person.” And he lives up to it.

The first time we see him, he is having a game of poker with George Rackham, a pilot of the Royal Flying Corps based in France. Clearly losing the game, he still manages to make a last round with Rackham’s plane, the Bristol F2.B, on the stake. Yet still Balckburn loses the last hand too. Luckily for him, he has left the unsuspecting pilot tied to the chair he is sitting on, and a push knocking Rackham down and locking him inside the shed, he goes to steal his plane for a ride.

He meets Wilson, the gunner of the plane. He masquerades as George Rackham, smoothly lying to Wilson and they both take it for an practice ride. Soon after that, the player takes control of Blackburn who is tasked with doing loops and follow with another friendly plane, and shooting practice targets like explosive blimps and grounded plane wreakages into a beautiful clear mountain pass. All throughout the chapter, Blackburn narrates his thoughts to the player and says how “It was a crisp,sunny day and everything would have been perfect had I only been alone.” Wilson starts to get suspicious about Blackburn citing why ‘Rackham’, son of fourth Earl of Windsor, has an American accent? Blackburn cleverly lies that he picks accents quickly yet again showing his dishonesty.

Soon, they both intercept enemy German planes in the airspace and get into a dogfight with them. They follow the last plane and accidentally find a German stockpile of munitions in a fortress hidden by the fog. They do a daring sweep of the fortress over multitude of enemy fire; Wilson takes photos of the base. They escape and go back to HQ.

Blackburn wants to show the photos to the commanding officer so that the HQ can launch a major assault on the Germans, providing the incentive that they shall be heralded as heroes and get medals of honor. Wilson has second thoughts on being getting into another fight but relents eventually on the condition that Blackburn get him out in one piece. Blackburn swears immediately.Wilson goes inside and talks to the officer while Blackburn narrates how he “liked the guy, but he was kinda naive.”

promise-2

Blackburn and Wilson take to the skies again and start clearing the base of enemy planes, Anti-Air trucks and blimps, making a way for the bombers. The bombers drop off their payload and in one of the ensuing explosions, the tail of Blackburn’s plane gets damaged resulting in a crash.

Blackburn had already jumped off the plane and finds himself conscious a few hours later, hanging from the parachute. He thinks Wilson has died in the crash and sneaks to get to the friendly territory. He soon comes across the plane crash site, finding Wilson alive but heavily injured and unable to move himself.

Blackburn is unsure at first but decides to leave Wilson. Wilson calls him back reminding him of his promise, how he said they would be heralded as heroes and rewarded with medals which Blackburn replies by saying, “I’m no hero.” Wilson grows aggravated and angry and comments that either he is a good person who will help him out or a coward, selfish individual who will kill him by looking him in the eyes. Blackburn looks around and finds a wooden plank and gets it to bludgeon Wilson’s head.

Seeing that Blackburn is really going to kill him, Wilson braces himself and reminds Blackburn he knows that Blackburn is really not Rackham calling his real name out; Wilson finding out about the scam. Blackburn is seen to have a change of heart and decides to carry Wilson out of there and succeeds. As he rests at the ally base camp, he remarks why he saved Wilson was because he believed what Wilson called him and hated himself for it.

As he rests, two soldiers talk about how Blackburn carried a soldier through the enemy lines into safety and the other calls him a hero. The real George Rackham enters with two other soldiers, cutting off the talking soldier saying that Blackburn is nothing but a liar and a criminal and will be punished. Blackburn intimidatingly walks towards Rackham only to have himself give up.

He is sent back to London along with Wilson and Rackham abroad the ship Dreadnought on river Thames, his hand handcuffed to the railing. He is approached by Wilson coming to the deck, Wilson telling him that he shall speak for Blackburn during the court martial. Blackburn replies that it would not do him much good but he appreciates the help. Suddenly, enemy German planes fly over the ship causing a huge panic. Rackham refuses Blackburn’s plea to have his cuffs unlocked so he can help. He soon gets get killed in a air sweep performed by the enemy. Blackburn turns to Wilson who agrees and helps him out. They quickly get to flying another plane and intercept the enemy, and enemy zeppelins arrive to bomb the city. They attack them down but one zeppelin’s flak gun damages their plane and their plane lands on the same zeppelin. They make their way to the flak gun and commandeer it against the enemy’s airships. Wilson gets into a fight with a German soldier during the fight.

Soon, their own zeppelin starts to crash, making all three of them jump off of it and into the river below. After, the zeppelin catches a huge fire, only Blackburn climbs out of the river.

When the player knows it is the story’s end. There is the tone, the somber music, the last battle of redemption. That is what the player thinks up to the very last moment. Cause before wrapping things up, Blackburn gives the last narration.

joker

He says that this is his story. How a selfish man risked his life to save another and in turn was saved himself.

It tells the players that he has redeemed himself but what comes after makes them confused.

He goes on to add that in wartime, stories get mixed up and blemished into other versions.

“A rogue pilot who stole a plane, who killed his buddy. Then lied, cheated and murdered his way across half the Western Front – only to escape court martial in the chaos of an air raid.”

But Blackburn rebuffs such a version and asks to reject them. He says that what we hear from him is the truth. He says he would never lie to us and he directly looks at the camera, directly at the player, a sly smirk on his lips, he asks,

last-word

 

Clyde Blackburn is no hero. He is a dishonest man. We get reminded throughout the story’s progression. He steals the plane, lies to Wilson and even leaves him for dead. Most would take him as the guy who would steal from their purse if they left it at the table but still a good man underneath. That is why, before the last narration from him, we see a playing card fall from the sky and land near where Blackburn emerges from the waters (second last picture). The card tells the player to remember how we knew Blackburn at the start. A gambler. A cheat. A lair. And then comes the final narration. Also by the fact, we never see Wilson or the German get out of the water or get information if they got deceased, we don’t know if the story we saw was true.

That is cause Blackburn had already killed Wilson when he found him in the plane crash site. The mission where he carries him out of the enemy lines is make believe. Blackburn did not give himself up like a remorseful person as seen during the game, but got captured by Rackham. It is most likely that when the air raid occurred, Blackburn unlocked himself and dived inside the water, and the last cut-scene is him escaping the fight completely rather than him jumping out from the zeppelin into the water.

Basically, the developers are telling us if Blackburn can cheat his comrades, why can’t he cheat the player. The answer is yes. He can and has done it.

The moment Blackburn looks at the player breaking the forth wall, he is like saying, “Got ya.” But still after he asks the question the screen cuts to black, leaving the players either confused, or seething with anger and the truth a mystery.

I was honestly surprised at such such a great story-line. I sincerely thank and praise the writers for it. It is not that it is the first time, games have unreliable narrators. Games like Spec Ops: The Line have done an amazing job regarding the theme. But Battlefield 1 did it differently and unique. It gave us a character who was portrayed as a liar and unreliable from the start but did not make players feel he was lying about his story until the end, which I again give the developers a bow.

It can also be seen as the game makers asking the players to get invested in the story. That the plot is not just to be taken for granted, and wishing to skip to shooting, reloading, stealth and head shots. That it may be a game, but at the same time take it artistically. Furthermore, I wonder if this is a commentary on real war stories in itself. How can we say our history is not filled with people like Clyde Blackburn? That our heroes may not be what they seem…

The Unflinching Critic

The Unflinching Critic

***Disclaimer: All characters mentioned in this post are fictional. Any resemblance to real life people is just a coincidence.***

“This book by John Casrem shows an intriguing story which many will come to love. However the characters could be called lackluster at best, with convoluted motives and not enough development to call…”

“The music is mediocre at best. The things to standout still was the piano section towards the end which I though could have been more than just a closing remark and the great vocals of Hilary Nipton. Still fans will…”

“I have always been a huge fan of Diana Supper’s style of cinematography and this new movie could really be  a benchmark in the art. The directions, the sudden instances of change of the lighting to convey the mood while still keeping it natural and believable…”

“Outstanding and sublime…”

“Fails to reach the mark set by…”

“An honest attempt, but…”

“A shoddy job…”

“Visionary…”

“Satisfactory…”

“Something for everybody…”

“Something everyone can appreciate…”

We are critics. We give our opinions to a creative work submitted by an artist. Yes, we judge them and assess them their values. We always try to take an objective approach but the end product will always contain some amount of subjectivity. You can say we act as the food tasters for the public. We act as mediators to  a group of people. Said group can be a community, culture, country or even the whole world (emphasis on ‘can be’). Mind the fact that all our opinions are our own yet we are thought as like candidates by people, which is a cause for people to view us as narcissistic, glorified reviewers.

We can get a lot of heat from people and boy, are we subjected to hate so often. There’s even a common saying for us. Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, criticize. We are seen as the enemy. As vile evil creatures and demons who will never will be able to understand real art and work and can only be able to slander and libel.

Now, one can say everyone is a critic. But is everyone is a professional one? We have practiced our craft upon years years upon years to reach a state of credibility and power. Being a critic can be a tedious job cause we never let our own personal interests go in the way of analyzing the work of the artist even if our mind finds it boring. We resent such sentiments and keep looking at something with as I phrased earlier, an objective approach and not letting our enjoyment play a factor in our decisions. Ask yourself if you really would sit through a movie or read thousands of pages of work and pinpoint the good and the bad in detail, but did not want to read it at all. Yes, we never let it get in our way.

But being a critic is also a curse. We are sometimes  unable to enjoy a work. Yes we do enjoy work, but we are so focused, so focused on analyzing it that we forget to see it for it really is, a form of recreation. So, we are unable to enjoy it to the extent of what others would experience it. And when we have made a name for ourselves, we can affect somebody’s career. The thought of having power over somebody’s career is enticing in all the wrong ways and there is also the terrible circle of misunderstanding one’s words. Being a critic is not easy in any way. We get paid, sometimes by shattering somebody’s world. We are not soulless cynics who take delight in it. We are human beings, being told to act in the most unbiased way possible. Even to what we think, that must be made worthless to us. And that is impossible.

Because we were to be totally unbiased, we would be machines. Not kidding. We would be metal parts, electricity, and algorithm. Our sense of individuality is what makes us good in our job. A machine can never comprehend art cause it is so changing and volatile. Art is conveyed differently and as a matter of fact there are so many of us. Being a critic is being sentient.

People hate us when we say point out the negative stuff. The positive is positive, so should not the negatives must be focused upon to make the artist even more better? Yet, people don’t understand. And when a person hates a art, one searched to find a critic who has said something negative about it. We are not your therapists and we are not agreeing with you. Those are our views. In order to hate, if you look some kind of confirmations from us, you are a fool.

So yes, we are critics. And we shall say for what is it to us. We won’t flinch to anybody.