Monday, February 9, 2009

Sacrifice for Cool

This weeks brand of cool is the "cool sacrifice". It is common in recent movies to see a character that has to make a sacrifice that greatly impacts them. The sacrifice that I am speaking of is not like a virgin being thrown into a volcano to appease the gods, being eaten by native peoples to release you from your mortal bonds, or getting rid of something that you could live without. I am talking about having to give up something that shakes you soul. The reason why the personal sacrifice tactic is used so much in the film industry is because people can feel empathy for the character that has to make the sacrifice. The pain, anguish, mental dilemma, all things that a person would not want to experience themselves but can identify with.

One large category of the self sacrifice is when the main character has to give up something that is very important to his/her self. This usual has to do with the loss of the main character's happiness, as seen when Rick has to let Ilsa go for the good of the resistance movement. This act of self sacrifice shows that Rick is willing to let his heart be hurt so that a larger picture can be painted. This is also seen in Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At Worlds End. At the end of the movie, Will Turner stabs the heart of Davy Jones and becomes the captain of the Flying Dutchman. Sure, Turner is now immortal, a ship captain, and a very cool guy, but he can only see his love Elizabeth Swann one day every ten years because he freed his father. He has to only be able to see his son and his love once every ten years, but he kept his promise to his father.

Another archetype of the self sacrifice is giving one's life for something that they believe in. This is seen in the movie Armageddon. Bruce Willis' character chooses to get left behind on the asteroid to blow it up manually, letting his daughter's fiancée to live and saving the earth. In I am Legend, Will Smith kills himself and a large hoard of The Infected, allowing Anna and her brother Ethan to escape with the cure for the infection. These people are seen as cool for giving up their entire being to save something they think is more important than themselves. I believe that this lets people view the main character as a Christ figure. The giving of ones life to save the life of others (according to the Christian doctrine). No matter weather the sacrifice of oneself is only emotional or for life, the sacrificial character is definitely cool.


  1. I've always thought of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was the coolest person in the Pirates series, but I see where you're coming from with Will. His sacrifice was cool, but the Captain's entrance in the first movie will always stick in my mind as the coolest part of the series.

  2. I have to say I'm quite amused that you used Armageddon. You use it as an example of sacrificing for something you believe in, and that's certainly one way to frame the sacrifice portrayed in the movie - but do you really believe that Rick was idealistic for the cause, or do you think that he was giving up Ilsa for another reason?

    Do you think that Rick's sacrifice compares on any level to the sacrifices you've mentioned here?