|Highlander The Source-The Enigma of Immortality|
April 4th, 2008 [5:43:39]
The Book Fool: The latest addition to the Highlander Series ( the Adrian Paul story ark , not the Christopher Lambert - bigger - budget productions ) seems to have disappointed , not to say disgusted admirers and fans , if one goes by the IMDB comments.
Yet , as a somewhat distant observer of this strand of Mytho-Poetic creativity ( I have seen a few of the television episodes through the years, as well as each of the previous four theatrical films) -- I was captivated by this films compact treatment of the multiplicity of difficult problems which the concept of " The Immortal" presents.
Perhaps the ever more demanding audiences of the 21 st century , who are starved for meaning and significance , felt cheated by this films attempt to resolve the somewhat cruel paradox of the Immortal Mythology : How can there be only One ? Why must so many die ? For myself, I was entertained and also stimulated by this film-- in the same way, for example, as a person who though not belonging to a particular religious group might find a sermon delivered from the pulpit of a country parson , interesting. Because there is almost always food for thought in any narrative.
The religious and mystical traditions that uphold this idea of the Chosen One are of course not restricted to the creators of Highlander . Our Judaeo-Christian tradition , here in the west , has firmly implanted the idea in our Collective Psyche . God regularly ( in cosmic terms ) Chooses prophets, guides , saviours, for us to look to for guidance, from Abraham through to Jesus . Other, sometimes competing , sometimes complementary traditions present us with similar great teachers. And they all must , if one reads history from this point of view, sacrifice themselves for the Many.
It is a rather gruesome, un-friendly view of the world that leaves the slightly more alert members of the human race wondering : Huh ??
The need we feel to rationalize the cruelty of nature and the somewhat disturbing pleasure humans take in the suffering of others is not likely to disappear from our intellectual environment. The world is apocalyptic , as much now as it ever was . We have no shortage of Wars and Plagues Famine and Death--The four horsemen of St. Johns Revelation continue to trample the earth ... And although some of us are for the moment quite safe , we all feel and know that this can change in an instant. Whether in a ball of flame as we saw it in the 9 / 11 television footage , or the next time we bend to pick a flower in a garden and perhaps put our back out or twist our ankle walking down the street . The precariousness of existence is omnipresent, Chaos is forever at our gates.
To me , the Film HIGHLANDER : THE SOURCE is much like a medieval mystery play. For though the tools of the theatrical trade have changed in the last 600 years and though we now spend much more time and money than our forefathers would ever have dreamed possible , to put on a show --and this particular show was probably inexpensive compared to others -- this story has all the elements of our oldest belief - motifs : There is a Satanic figure, a Marian incarnation, a mysterious God-Head as well as several prophetic and martyred bystanders --- and there is the foretelling of what may well be a virgin birth --- For though the Immortals cannot beget children it seems that Duncan Macleod , perhaps by passing "The Test" , may be "The One" to father a child whom the "Eternal Mother " figure ( Anna , played by Thelka Reuten -- http://imdb.com/name/nm0720671/ ) so desires to carry -- enough so that she will even sacrifice her temporal happiness to this end.
So all ye unsatisfiable and truth-hungry fans : see this film as a celebration of the ancient mystery of fertility , of " The Quickening " ( an old folk term from Scotland that signifying the moment when a child begins to show activity in a mothers womb). Perhaps this way you will be less frustrated by the films lack of concrete solutions to what is essentially the historical Problem of Evil , or of the problem of historical Evil . For if immortality and eternal life are very much at the center of human mythic and religious constructs , and though we are all given to believe that this goal may be achievable--nonetheless, the true immortality of our species remains in our ability to adapt and reproduce. Individual immortality and the survival of ones personality is a sweet and deceptively alluring dream -- I , especially as I slowly grow older ( I shall be fifty sooner than I wish to acknowledge ) am not immune to this very human and very egoist hope .
The Guardian :
" You like graveyards? I love 'em -- I mean , who wants to live forever ? "
There is no way to avoid death except through reproduction but herein lies the rub : for if , as the satanic figure of the Guardian puts it
" There can be only Me " then there perhaps cannot also be ONLY ONE .
Oneness, unicity , the ultimate salvation , perhaps , of our species and of life on planet earth
is the pardisical chimera that many of us see shimmering on the horizon of our group-life, the mirage that can never be reached for it keeps receding as we approach it.
Perhaps conflict is too deeply anchored in our Being , and perhaps our individual and primal need to be dominant will ultimately defeat us. There are certainly no lack of signs pointing towards this seeming inevitability.
The Highlander films, [and this last one in particular - in it's gruesome somewhat pastiche hypereality], do try to offer a message of hope -- one which Anna delivers in a beautiful and simple epilogue - This I leave to you reader to discover for yourself , as I encourage you to watch the film .