Tales Telling Tales
An Essay by, Donna M. Monnig
The entertainment choices in a culture can be telling. Games, books, and movies are only a few different forms of entertainment to choose from, but these three things all have one thing in common, they are all stories. This essay is concerned with one specific story, the movie entitled, In The Name Of The King, starring Jason Statham, Ron Pearlman, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, and many other popular actors. The properties that make up the movie will be examined and we will hopefully come to discover that even a simple tale can tell another tale all together. It is my opinion that, In The Name Of The King, shows us that people want to escape reality and be significant in our culture because in today’s busy rat race many people get lost in the shuffle.
The movie came about as the result of a popular game. Dungeon Siege started out as a role playing video game in 2002. The narrative was that of a simple farmer whose quiet life is disturbed by an attack of evil monsters on his local village. In the journey to seek help from the King, it is discovered that the whole kingdom is suffering attacks from these evil beasts, forcing the farmer to help save the kingdom. The movie follows a very similar vein. But why would people find this game so appealing as to make it a movie?
For a role playing game to become so popular would mean that people take their fun very seriously. Games could be considered a great source of entertainment not only because of the challenges for the players but also because of the narrative, the story that they can lose themselves in. Why would people want to lose themselves in a game? Possibly because it’s a chance for them to be something they’re not, a chance to be who or how they want to be instead of as they are. It is estimated that over 80% of working adults are unhappy with their jobs, add to that the adolescents who are unhappy with their home or school life and it makes for a dull existence.
Whether it’s the kid who gets bullied at school, the disgruntled factory worker who got passed over for a promotion, the clerk behind the counter who’s bored with their job, the rich banker who simply wants something more, or any other average Jane or Joe, it doesn’t matter. You get to shed the cloak of whoever you are and whatever you do when you enter the world of a game. In games you have the opportunity to be the hero of the story, which could be very appealing seeing as not everyone can even be the hero of their own life, let alone something so much bigger.
The movie is a fantasy genre that is based in medieval times and is full of magic and monsters. Why fantasy? Because people want to escape life’s dull realities by entering a realm where the imagination has free rein.
Each morning the sun will rise and each night the sun will set. There will always be twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 365 days in a year. A large portion of the population rises at a relatively certain time of the day, most days of the week, to go to work, school, or some other monotonous activity. There is a continual struggle to bring in money or good grades, to find your place in life; in short there is a constant struggle to be significant.
In reality the enemies aren’t monsters or evil villains bent on world or intergalactic domination. In the real world the enemies are much less sinister looking like a job, car payment, bill, boss, family problems, health problems, politics, racism, prejudice, economy, or school. All of these enemies can’t be struck down with the wave of a wand or the slash of a sword.
In a world of fantasy the enemies are often easily identified by their grotesque monster like qualities and can be obliterated by brute strength or quick cunning. In a world filled with magic there’s no telling what could happen on any given day and who’s to say that there will always be twenty-four hours in a day or seven days in a week? Anything can happen making the imagined world full of endless possibilities and anything but dull.
The movie revolves around the life of a simple farmer who wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and son on their small spot of land. His world is torn apart when his village is attacked, his wife kidnapped by the monsters and his son killed. His quest to rescue his wife and avenge his son leads him into the role of an unwilling hero and ends with him becoming the new king.
What other meaning might be found in that plot? The star of the story is insignificant in the beginning, just some average Joe with an average job and an average life. However, with a previously unseen bravery, he rises to the occasion, slays his enemies, becomes a hero, and attains the highest glory possible. The underdog finally scores one for the team, proves that it can be done, a feat that many people could probably relate to in real life. Because who doesn’t want the chance to show what they’re made of and stick it to the man? In the day to day living of the real world, the chance to prove oneself worthy, let alone a hero, is all but impossible, yet still very desirable. Watching movies like, In The Name Of The King, is the closest that many of us will ever come.
All in all, it would seem that myth and magic are almost a desire, a way to escape the mundane routines and worries of everyday life. Games and stories are fantasies in which even the weakest person can be hailed a hero. They’re a place where enemies are easily distinguishable as well as extinguishable and good always triumphs over evil. People need entertainment to make certain aspects of their lives bearable, and their choice of entertainment expresses their need to be recognized. In the end it all boils down to something quite simple, because to paraphrase Shakespeare, nothing is so common as the wish to be significant.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this.