Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear me. Alas. By Jove! A bloody Ghurka.

The Man Who Would Be King is perhaps one Kipling's most timeless tales. Adventure, greed, honor, hubris, aspiration, delusions of grandeur, exotic lands, frontiers, loyalty, empire, and courage are themes central to this remarkable tale. Translated beautifully onto the big screen by John Huston in 1975, it is one of the werewolf's favorite films. Plus, the chemistry between Connery and Caine only add to the power behind this magical and captivating film.

Watching it on VHS as a little boy, The Man Who Would Be King was a young werewolf's introduction to the legendary Gurkha of British Imperial fame. The concept of being a loyal soldier and obedient steward to a people not of your own nationality was alien to the werewolf, but the Ghurkas, along with the Swiss Guards at the Vatican are perhaps the greatest examples of non-mercenary soldiers becoming legandary attachments to the military lore of a land that is not their own. Billy Fish is the greatest cinematic example of the Ghurka captured by Hollywood. The werewolf has often wondered why these legendary Nepalese fighting men have been given short shrift given the lore and legacy that surrounds their contributions to the British Empire. Billy Fish, seen above, along with his beautifully constructed Gurkha English and his unwaveringly optimistic disposition have captured the imagination of the werewolf for over two-decades.

Billy Fish is also one of the werewolf's fictional men of honor. If you watch the clip below, (you'll have to get to about 3:46 for the scene), Billy Fish is given the chance to escape with some gold, and instead volunteers to go down fighting, despite the cause being lost. The sequence around his death is worthy of Tennyson. Even facing certain death, he optimistically wishes his commanders "many good lucks."

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