Friday, June 24, 2016

To Kill A Demon: Warcraft & Fel Magic

Here is the situation: Durotan, on the left, is an orc chief of the Frostwolves, and their world is dying from a mysterious force (it's quite a bit like the ice that consumes the land in Frozen because of Elsa) that is called fel magic. An orc named Gul'dan (pictured below with the green eyes, fel magic appears as a green glow to those who are being consumed by it) appears and makes himself the leader of a united orc horde (all the orc clans) because he has power with fel magic. He creates a portal through which a war party, including Durotan above, is a part and they invade the planet of Azeroth to overthrow the human population there and make it there new homeland. Even after they have just been there awhile, Durotan (who has not been fighting because there is only unarmed people they are fighting against) realizes the fel is destroying the parts of Azeroth where they have been, and anyone who has been touched by the fel magic dies: that's the equation of it, fel takes life to give life, but the live it gives becomes corrupt and rotten (which is why it's green; more on this in the caption below). Realizing Gul'dan is corrupt and no good is going to come of their invasion, Durotan arranges a meeting with King Llane, the brother-in-law of Lothar, who is pictured above on the right. Lothar is the military commander in chief, and his sister is married to King Llane. Durotan informs them that they are just a war party, but that the entire horde is coming and the fel will destroy the land; he proposes his Frostwolves clan and the humans fight Gul'dan before the gate is complete that will allow the entire horde to cross over; unfortunately, Durotan was betrayed, and Gol'dan attacks Durotan and Lothar during the meeting, making it look like Durotan had lead them into an ambush.  Both of these leaders are leaders: the film makes it clear that their qualities are what makes a great leader and without great leaders there is death, destruction and chaos for all. If it weren't for the world of art, America would probably have forgotten what a great leader is: not someone who holds a press conference from the golf course, or the highest elected official sitting in the highest office with his feet up on the desk, or forgetting to salute the members of the Armed Forces protecting him, etc. Good leaders don't lie, the film makes it clear, and Americans have forgotten that, having become so used to it that we had to be shown a film to remind us that leaders should be held to the highest ethical standards, not given a free pass to ignore and disregard them. The paint upon the leaders' faces in the poster above aptly summarizes their motivation: Durotan has red paint because he is motivated by love for his family and clan to find a new home for them; Lothar doesn't need the blue war paint, his piercing blue eyes peer out from his continuously messed up hair so that we always know the state of his soul is that of both suffering and the pursuit of wisdom. There's a deeply interesting part of the film when Lothar is without his war boots. He had to unstrap himself from his boots when he was fighting the fel magic which had taken over Medivh (the guardian, more on him below); Medivh had created a statue that was going to become a golem and, unless Lothar releases his shoes, he will be plunged over the cliff to his death; then, he has to fight bare foot in a hand-to-hand combat duel with the orc who killed his only son. We're given great shots of Lothar's feet, so we know he's bare foot and we're supposed to see that his feet are bare and his has King Llane's sword, not Lothar's sword; why? A golem is an image of slavery and mindlessness (exactly what happens to all who follow Gul'dan and his fel magic, and it's the fel magic which is animating the golem and threatening Lothar) so for Lothar to remove his military boots (the feet and what we wear upon them is a sign of our will and where we want to go in life) Lothar makes the decision, like Durotan, that he doesn't want to be a slave; his boot is caught in the golem, so by unstrapping himself he also frees himself from everything that could potentially make him a slave, which leads us to the fight with Blackhand. Lothar has been knocked out when trying to retrieve King Llane's body, but when he awakens, he is face-to-face with Blackhand the orc who killed his son; Lothar's bare feet shows us that this is his will exposed, to kill Blackhand, but also that Lothar blames ONLY Blackhand--and no other orc--for his son's death. Lothar sliding underneath the huge orc and Lothar using his sword to slice the orc where the orc's genitals are, is a poetic retribution since Lothar's son Callan came from Lothar's loins and is now dead; Lothar has insured that Blackhand's loins are as dead as his own; in stabbing Blackhand in the back, Lothar recognizes that Lothar was betrayed because Medievh intentionally separated father and son so Callan would die and his son's death could be used against Lothar, keeping Lothar from the king's council so Llane would be more easily manipulated. 
Most people probably saw the trailer for the film and thought it was going to be a story about immigration, and with the character Durotan (the orc), it was going to be a pro-socialist account of how countries (including in Europe, not just the US) should open their borders and allow themselves to get ransacked by hordes flowing in, rather like the barbarian invasion of ancient Rome; Warcraft proved to be an incredibly insightful political metaphor of what has been happening in the US for the last six years. This post contains spoilers, but I don't know that it really matters if you know what is going to happen before seeing this film: it's not that it has a poorly constructed narrative, just the opposite, and it's not that it's mostly just a visual film (which most critics are offering as reason to see it), it's because you will be able to pick up on more if you all ready know the path the film will take. Far be it from me, however, to tell you how you will enjoy the film, but, there are major spoilers in the post, so you have been warned. This isn't a long post, but we are going to touch upon a few things.
Hello, Obama! If Gul'dan isn't an Obama figure, I don't know who is. He shows up out of nowhere and takes over the clans, forming them into a horde (yes, like the Mongol Hordes which nearly destroyed European civilization during the Middle Ages). We can see a motion to a New World Order in this because the NWO wants to do away with individual countries, like England, and form them into zones, like a European Union. This is what Gul'dan has done with the orc clans. He controls the fel magic, which is a green color (please see it in his eyes) and he uses the fel to promise to deliver the orcs to a new land. Fel magic is green, and like all the other colors, green has both a good and negative value: green means hope because it's the color of new beginnings and abundance, like spring, but it also means something is rotten and corrupt, like mold. Gul'dan uses the fel as a means of hope to entice the orc clans to go and conquer Azeroth, but the truth is, as Durotan realizes, the fel costs more than it produces, just like socialism. When Gul'dan and the war party of orcs first arrive at Azeroth, Durotan's mate Draka gives birth to a stillborn son; the baby is blue when she delivers it, meaning, that in the sadness of the baby being stillborn, they should take up the wisdom of the omen that this expedition is doomed; Gul'dan doesn't allow that, however. Using fel magic, he takes the life from a deer and instills it into the stillborn baby, again, just like socialism, which takes life from something that is perfectly healthy (the deer) and uses that life to try and resuscitate something that has died and isn't healthy (the film The Evil Dead did a fantastic job of providing a graphic illustration of this concept; read by post here). Throughout the film, we see Gul'dan using people to draw their life's breath from them to keep his fel active and "fed," and, again, that's what socialism does: humans lose their humanity, because they are nothing but fuel for the socialist machinery.
When faced with an artistic narrative, one of the best exercises when approaching it is to ask yourself what other narratives it reminds you of, or search for elements you have encountered elsewhere. For example, Gul'dan, pictured above, who brings all the orcs together and uses the fel magic, uses his magic to make one orc the strongest that has ever been so that orc can do Gul'dan's will for him. Have we seen that before?
Yes, a number of films.
This is Medivh, the Guardian, whose sole purpose is to protect Azeroth. When Lothar goes to speak with him about the invasion of orcs and what they should do, Lothar has to walk up a really, really tall and winding staircase to get to Mediveh. Why? Medivh has become "out of touch" with the very realm he should protect and has lost his "grounding" (being too high up in the air). When Lothar finally arrives, he sees two things: first, Medivh has been creating a golem and, secondly, Medivh doesn't have his shirt on. Nudity, in general, means that someone has been "exposed" and their real being revealed; in this case, we see how Medivh is going to be "exposed" for being the one who, instead of guarding the realm, betrayed the realm, and that has certainly been true of nearly every high-raninking elected official in the US government. Why is Medivh working on creating a golem? A golem is a clay creature/man brought to life through some kind of magic (in the original tradition, a Jewish rabi created a clay statue and wrote the name of God on a piece of paper and inserted it into the golem's mouth and gave it life). Why on earth does this matter? Because Medivh creating the golem for (what he thinks) is his own use, actually demonstrates what he himself will become under the evil of the fel magic: a dumb slave with no will of his own, and Gul'dan becomes the same. It's important throughout the film the color of a person's eyes; why? We all know the eyes are the window to a person's soul (because the body houses the soul the way a home--that has windows--houses our bodies), so the blue eyes of both Lothar and Medivh bespeak their suffering and their wisdom; Medivh, however, is being taken over by the fel magic and his eyes turn green until he is consumed and becomes a demon; really, he becomes like Satan himself, it's rather terrifying the demonic form the fel takes. How did this happen? Medivh is the one who invited the Gul'dan and the orcs to invade Azeroth, just has Obama and his administration have invited people from Mexico, South America and the Middle East to invade America (which is also happening throughout Europe). As Lady Taria says, we've had peace for so many years, and now these foreign people are bringing death and destruction with them. Medivh, like so many scholars and the self-righteous, live in a tower removed from the reality of day-to-day events; Medivh wanted to "save everyone," and while it's a noble aim, the means he used to go about it assured it would fail. 
In The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Sauron makes the Pale Orc his strongest and commander of all his armies; in Thor 2: The Dark World, the Malekith, the Dark Elf, turns one of his elves into a kind of bull-creature to wreck havoc on Asgard. In X-Men: Apocalypse, Apocalypse uses his powers to make his four horsemen stronger while in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of the Shadows, Krang gives Shredder super powers to be able to defeat the turtles. and, of course, in Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Lex Luthor resurrects General Zod and gives him all the powers of Doomsday. So,... what? Why should we care about this? This is the difference between a "pattern" and "originality."
This is Khadgar. When he was six years old, his parents gave him to be trained to one day be a guardian, because it would bring them honor; Khadgar took back his vows and left when he could. What does this mean? Khadgar embraces everything he's meant to do in order to help save the kingdom, but ultimately, it had to be his own choice with his free will. Leaving was his recognition of being "enslaved" to what others wanted of him, but still using his abilities, he was able to help save the kingdom and realize what he himself wanted as well.
When one film invokes another film through the incorporation of a recurring motif, they form a link, the second film says it shares a belief, view or idea with the first film and wants the audience to know that; thereby, it forms two links in a chain and a third film also reflecting the same motif joins the chain and makes a third link and so on, so that it's not JUST a recurring pattern, rather, a statement with an expanding vocabulary of agreement and EVEN an indictment against some wrong which has been committed. So, what exactly has happened with all these films repeating the same narrative pattern? Someone has been given unlimited power to destroy an enemy standing in the way of a massive, destructive, world-changing event; who is it?
These two, perhaps more than any other characters, give the film its title Warcraft. The Queen and King of Azeroth know how to make friends. On the left is Lady Taria, the sister to Lothar and Queen to King Llane (right). Her kindness and wisdom breaks down the barriers between her culture and Garona (Paula Patton, pictured below) but what is most interesting about her is the stance she takes in this image (which I don't believe is included in the film). Her hands are held behind her back; why? As queen, she symbolizes "the motherland," the land giving birth to all the people of Azeroth and now, the orc clans coming to live there. Her hands are behind her back as if they have been tied there, and this is rather like the figure of Alodi, also a woman, who has lost her strength to fight Medivh's corruption. King Llane, in his incredible wisdom and perception, convinced Garona of killing him while they were surrounded by orcs in battle because she would become a hero to the orcs and she could use her influence with orcs to procure peace; King Llane's wisdom might have been too advanced for the state of affairs. On a different note, one of the first things we learn in the film about the humans is that Lothar--with his fair skin and blue eyes--is the brother of Taria--who has dark skin, hair and eyes (and, in reality, is from Ethiopia); how can they be brother and sister? Because they the film makers are not speaking biologically, rather, socially and culturally.  There is no division between blacks and whites other than the one which are being used to create civil war in the US today. Before Obama came, there was (mostly) peace; there were sad situations, but those were isolated; everyone had upward-mobility. Once race-baiting starting becoming the norm, cities started to burn, like Ferguson and Baltimore, just as there was peace and then cities began burning in Warcraft
My first guess is the American Press.
The First Amendment wasn't enough; but the power of not being held accountable for lying or not reporting things, that was all the power they needed to serve Obama. This is the whole point of Warcraft: the corruption. Fel magic, as different characters say numerous times, comes from death and creates death where there was life. This is the basis of the riddle which Alodi gives Khadgar: from light comes darkness and from darkness comes light. So, who is Alodi and what does this mean?
"Ganora" in orcish means "cursed," because her mother was an orc and her father a human, so she neither belongs among the humans nor the orcs, having been made a slave to Gul'dan and an interpreter. She is a case of "rags to riches" in that she was captured by Khadgar and won over to the side of Azeroth by the queen and king, and quickly rose from slave to riding beside the king. She didn't want to kill King Llane, but using the dagger Taria gave her, and stabbing it in the neck of Llane, means she hoped Taria would know it was kinder for Ganora to kill Llane than it would have been for him had one of the orcs killed him. On a different note, Medievh gives Ganora a blue flower as his "gift to her." Why? It may actually be a reference to the blue flowers used in The Purge (I know they were used in the first film of the series, but I don't know about the rest of them). IT MIGHT BE that Mediveh is saying, you were a flower that might have been purged by your own people (aborted or killed at birth for being different) but you survived, and you should be thankful and remember that in your encounters with others." Likewise, and we don't have to assume that these two interpretations are mutually exclusive, we can say that Medievh prophesies that there will be sadness in Ganora's life (blue is the color of depression and sadness) but he promises her that she will blossom and grow as a result of it, rather than wither and die under the burden and strains which may face her. 
"Light from darkness and darkness from light" means that whenever there is a bright place in the world, let's say the United States, it's going to attract darkness and people who hate it (darkness) will arise from within it; wherever there is darkness, however, there will be strong people like Khadgar, Durotan and Lothar to fight that darkness with the light within them. We can say that this is the entire basis of the film. Alodi, a figure dressed in black, is haunting and spooky because Alodi is dying from weakness and can no longer live; because Alodi tells Khadgar, "Guardian is only a title. We the people are the true guardians," that Alodi is the spirit of freedom, liberty and the Constitution (the laws of a country). Without a doubt, Alodi's urging for Khadgar to use all of his skill to defeat the fel magic is also a plea for us, throughout the whole world, to defeat the same kind of magic that sounds like hope, but is actually a terrible and corrupting force sweeping the world. I can't wait for the next one.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner