Notes: It occurs to me that last week’s introduction neglected one detail, which is that I will be trying, as much as possible, to take the movie as it comes. I’ve listened to the DVD commentary—though not for a long time—and turned in confusion to the movie’s Wikipedia entry a few times before deciding to do this project. As the sort of person hardwired to turn into a research monkey when I encounter something I like, this will likely not be as easy as it sounds.
I’m also going to skip over the initial swordfight between Connor and Fasil, even though a) Why the backflips, really? and b) If I were 500 years old and nonetheless dressed like Lt. Columbo, I like to think I’d be begging somebody to cut my head off. Instead, we’ll head for one of the best parts of the movie: the Highlander’s origin story. We’ll be spending a bit of time here, so make yourself comfortable.
PART 2: “WANTED: MERCENARY. WILL ACCEPT SKULL ARMOR IN LIEU OF REFERENCES.”
In flashback to the 16th century, young Connor rides off with the other MacLeod clansmen to do battle against the Frasers, who seem to have a few advantages:
- High ground;
- Superior banners and a better-looking tartan (hey, it could affect morale);
- THE FRIGGIN’ KURGAN.
I assume that last one will definitely affect morale.
If you haven’t watched the movie for a while, I suggest at least checking out our first glimpse of the Kurgan, silhouetted against the sky, because it’s pretty transcendent—YouTube has the battle scene here, with Spanish subtitles, but as the precise moment itself is silent, that should work fine.
The armor is magnificent. You hear Wagner playing where there is no Wagner. (You also suspect he mugged Zorro and stole his horse.)
Once the Kurgan ceases posing ominously and joins the MacLeods’ enemies, things begin to get both exciting and odd. I’ll save the fact that he somehow not only knows the MacLeods have an immortal around somewhere, but knows his name! for next week. What I find myself wondering, as the clan leader re-confirms their deal, is how the hell do you hire the Kurgan anyway? Did he approach the Frasers because he knew about Connor—for that matter, is he in Scotland because he knows about Connor—or did they somehow manage to ask for help without the Kurgan singlehandedly wiping out their best fighting men? I find myself trying to imagine this, and the death count is always at least one:
RANDOM FRASER 1: Our leader wants to know if—
KURGAN: * stab*
RANDOM FRASER 2: We could pay you maybe—
KURGAN: * kick, followed by stab *
RANDOM FRASER 3: I like your armor?
At some point, however, an accord seems to have been reached.
Read the next one: The Kurgan: not a detective.
Next time: Complicated relationships with books.
Next time on TCBOM: Where everybody knows your name, but especially that one guy with the skulls and the sword and the voice.