Friday, 21 September 2007

Heroic Films on the Welsh Resistance

Hosting a comment by Matthew on proposals to film epics on the fight for freedom :

Davies and too many others like him have that same mental disease that so many other colonized people have had-- they absorb so much of the propaganda of an occupying power, that they come to identify with them and hate their own identity. Same animal with different stripes.
One of the things that Wales needs IMHO, to solidify its identity and help Welsh autonomy to move along, is a Welsh variant of Braveheart-- focusing in the case of Cymru obviously on Owain Glyndwr, his inspirational resistance and his relative success.
IOW, a national epic focusing on their national hero and representative of their independence. And done, of course, in the Welsh language (with subsequent subtitling and dubbing as needed).
My understanding is that the Irish are already doing this, there seems to be at least some stirring to do an Irish film about Hugh O' Neill, the truly brilliant and spectacular Irish resistance leaders who defeated the genocidal armies of Elizabeth I in the late 1500's, repeatedly. He even had the satisfaction of outliving the Queen herself after having repeatedly defeated her forces, successfully prosecuting a guerrilla war against the English attackers until King James I came to the throne, desperate for peace. Despite his subsequent participation in the Flight of the Earls, it was O'Neill's example of resistance and especially, his military success that continued to fire the spirit of Irish independence in subsequent centuries.
Needless to say, the Irish are applying the "Braveheart" example and currently in the planning stages to create a film, in Irish Gaelic of course, about Hugh O'Neill and his remarkable performance against the genocidal and hateful Elizabethans, as bad or worse than Edward's killers who attacked Scotland and William Wallace.
It's difficult to estimate the power of these sorts of national epics, especially if done in the national language, to fortify the heart and provide a reference point for an independent land. It's done wonders for Scotland (and Scottish Gaelic). (The English of course have their own example in the person of Henry V, who helped to solidify English identity in opposition to the French, Normans and Angevins.) The gradually developing plans for the Hugh O'Neill epic in Ireland are already energizing the Irish to better assert their culture and their language.

Wales has a similar heroic figure in Owain Glyndwr, and his story is extraordinary-- like O'Neill, he was both brilliant and successful as a military underdog against a more powerful enemy. He's an inspiration for free people everywhere, and it would be a credit to Wales to undertake a Welsh-language national epic dedicated to him and his accomplishments.
BTW, someone earlier had written something about encouraging the Celtic nations of Wales, Scotland and Ireland to start publishing more international tracts in non-English global languages such as German or French. That's a very smart idea and a classic technique used by oppressed peoples to thwart a colonizing power, even as they reach a global audience. One of the great advantages we now have in the EU, is that we have a choice of "big languages" besides English, and I already know of cases in Celtic-speaking eastern Canada for example, where scientific or other academic authors have taken to writing in French or sometimes in German for their articles. I guess it's a kind of way to help prevent an Anglophone cultural attack on their own fragile Celtic culture there. Makes sense to me.

1 comment:

gwyn said...

braveheart had more fiction than fact, the battle of sterling bridge was just that, a fight on the bridge the english couldnt deploy. but a victory is a victory and thats all that matters, falkirk was where the welsh bowmen was on the wrong side against the scots and finally his own nobility turned against wallace.
dont forget that henry v was born in wales his bodyguard were welsh bowmen and it was welsh bowmen at agincourt etc............