What makes a film, show or book an epic? Is it the cool costumes or crude weapons? The archaic languages or ancient kingdoms? The primitive eras or primeval locations? The mega wars or miniature conflicts? Hosts of battle ships or hordes of armies beyond the horizon? Flying limbs off sorry bodies or fluttering creatures? The great men who make the story come alive or the grand villains we
love hate to hate?
It kinda is the whole lot isn’t it?
I get curious glances when I mention Lords Over Kenia falls under the unfamiliar epic genre – apparently people assume I’d write about love or politics. Puh! But even so, you will agree that as stone hard as the genre is, very few epic films and books disregard love altogether in their plot, even fewer have zero political bearing.
Take for example my all time favourite film Troy.
Menelaus urges his brother Agamemnon to help him conquer the city of Troy because Hector’s young foolish brother, Paris, has a
secret love affair with Menelaus’ wife, Queen Helen, even smuggling her aboard their ship back to Troy. The story is hinged on that simple misdeed of love. In other favourites of mine, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, the politics is entrancing, it is what keeps us glued.
Love and politics, together with the hint of all out war or an impending cataclysmic event, the heroes, villains, weapons and costumes are what sits at the base of any epic tale.
But there is one thing you probably ignore as an insignificant little spec in the story. I do not blame you, it is often something you don’t want lingering in your head after seeing it’s gory end.
In the show Outlander, Jamie Fraser is flogged with a hundred lashes for escaping the British armies. The cruel Redcoat Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall heaps more misery on the healing boy by adding a further hundred lashes leaving Jamie’s back in bloody mangles. In The Game of Thrones, a metal tin housing a hungry rat is placed on top of one’s stomach and gradually heated. The rat with nowhere to go, ravages it’s way out through flesh and organs. Death isn’t instant fyi. In The Borgias, the not-so-holy Cardinal Cesare puts the friar Savonarola through wicked torture, even taking his tongue out to limit his supposed heresy, before he is burned at the stake. In Marco Polo, junior Polo sears senior Polo’s hand with a red-hot metal rod, after the great Kublai Khan handed him the almighty task of choosing a punishment for his thieving father. Then there’s the Glasgow Smile executed BY Yusuf and the trampling over by horses executed ON Yusuf.
These are on the extremes of torture, accompaniments to the ever present tree hanging in most, if not all epic stories.
In Lords Over Kenia: The Prophecy of the Moon Chief? The go to torture, sadistic and monstrous, is homed by the Lwo People of the West and is aptly named ‘Walking The Pole‘.
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