Heroes and leader archetypes are something that I am constantly on the lookout for because if there’s one thing I know it’s this: Our world needs more heroes and leaders to help the U.S. and the West resuscitate a world drowning in a sea of corrosive philosophic ideas. Thankfully, Jerry Bruckheimer and others have given us an inspiring vision to enjoy and contemplate in the movie, King Arthur, (2005), starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley.
This is one of my favorite movies in its celebration of an immensely inspiring hero/leader archetype. This is not the Arthur of myth, but rather a conscripted Roman soldier forced to fight in the Roman army at a time that Rome is falling apart, and the Dark Ages are nearly upon them. In this story, Arthur leads an elite group of knights who revere him-- and vice versa-- for his courage in battle and integrity to his values.
The question that Arthur must face--and answer--to save himself, his men, and others depending on him is: What IS right(?) when his world is falling apart, and his men are furious with the Church authority who has betrayed them and forced them to engage in a suicide rescue mission.
As if the situation were not complex enough, he and his men must form an alliance with the native Britons, a people they have been fighting against for the past 15 years. And worse still, his mentor, the Christian philosopher, Pelagius, a man he studied under in Rome, has just been killed, leaving Arthur adrift from the inside out. Yet Arthur and his men face it all, with a courage and intellect that causes Guinevere, a fiery native Briton who initially challenges the choices Arthur has made, to fall passionately in love with him and he with her.
Guinevere shows herself to be a heroine worthy of Arthur, and vice versa, in a moving scene near the end of the movie:
Guinevere: “I can see why you think you have nothing left here. You have your deeds . . .”
Arthur: “Deeds by themselves are meaningless unless they serve a higher purpose! We have waged a war to protect a Rome that does not exist. Is that the deed I am to be judged by?”
Guinevere: “You stayed and fought when you could have run. You bloodied evil men. You did all that for no reason?”
Arthur: “Pelagius told me once that there is no worse death than the end of hope.”
Gunevere: “. . . What are you afraid of Arthur? You’re like this country, Britons with a Roman father. Rome is DEAD! This place, this land, your HOME-- is the last outpost of freedom, of everything you hold dear.” Reaching up to touch his cheek, says slowly, “These . . . are . . . your . . . people.”
Hollywood churns out a lot of forgettable movies these days, but this time, thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, a great script, and a talented set of actors, they really got it right. See this inspiring movie of an unforgettable leader and take these lessons home with you to live in your own life, as I have in mine. – Mike Gemmell