Theseus has witnessed Hyperion’s uncompromising evil firsthand. He warns his king Cassander to “seal the gates and prepare for war.” But Cassander clings to his smug certainty that, as the bumper sticker says, “war is not the answer” and that “negotiations and reason” will prevail – a stance that sounds admirable in theory but is viable only if one’s enemy is committed to the same ideals. Unfortunately for Cassander, war is precisely the answer to everything for Hyperion and his killers. He insists on being reasonable and offering to negotiate right up to the very second that Hyperion wordlessly relieves him of his clueless head.
In the face of Hyperion’s army, Cassander’s warriors lose heart and panic. It takes a rousing speech from Theseus about what it is they are fighting for to inspire them to arms. An epic clash ensues. In the process of his path from peasant to legend, Theseus finds his religious faith and proves that even peasants can earn honor and immortality through their righteous deeds.
This is no children’s movie with cartoonish, bloodless violence. It’s disturbingly dark and the violence is sometimes cringe-inducing. There is copious bloodletting and more impalings, beheadings, throat slittings, exploding heads, eye-gougings, and full-body cleavings than one can count. “War,” as John Stuart Mill put it, “is an ugly thing.”
But not the ugliest of things. Immortals comes from the producers of 300, the epic retelling of the famed tiny force of ancient Spartans who perished to the last man defending a narrow mountain pass against an overwhelmingly larger force of invading Persians. The debt this new film owes to 300 is significant, not only visually but thematically. Their message is that we must stand ready to be righteous warriors in defense of our families, our homes, and our way of life, and that dialogue and negotiation with evil is suicide. As Mill famously wrote:
The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Considering the challenges that we in the democratic West face from enemies within and without, Theseus’ call to arms in Immortals is as relevant today as at any time in history.
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