Fact on film

Just watched an interesting episode of Fact on Film on National Geographic discussing Lord of the Rings. For the most part it took themes and characters from the films and compared them with historical events and persons. Some comparisons worked, others, I felt, didn’t – for instance comparing Gandalf to Ben Franklin. While it’s true both were very wise and often planned for the greater good and not for personal gain it was stretching it a bit.

Most of the other comparisons were ones which I’ve commented on before myself and I’m sure other have too, such as Helm’s Deep recalling other desperate battles against the odds such as the Battle of Britain or Agincourt.

One which I had not considered drew on the greatest mytho-historical (for he is both now) characters from the history of my own land: William Wallace. The programme discussed comparisons between Aragon and Wallace – both men fighting a desperate battle, attempting to rally and inspire their men to win their freedom while neither was seeking personal power or reward. Aragon shuns the kingship although he knows he must ultimately embrace it, while Wallace, knighted and made Guardian of the realm fights in the name of the exiled king, with no intention of using his abilities to take power for himself. Of course, it’s not an entirely successful analogy since Wallace’s war ends, regrettably, in betrayal and a torturous death, while Aragon’s is rather more successful. Although since Wallace’s battles would lay the ground for the Bruce – who like Aragon spent time exiled in the wilds – who would displace the disgraced king Balliol (known as Toom Tabard or empty coat after his insignia was ripped off by Edward I) who died in exile and claim the throne for himself you could argue that he indirectly does provide for the return of the king, after a fashion.