I recently watched The Highlander for the first time (found the blu-ray for $5). Why did I wait this long? The movie came out before I was born and I only heard about it from Spoony’s reviews. Since then, I’ve also watched all four sequels and the first episode of the TV show. I’ll likely get into those later, but this post is about the original.
The Highlander is a great movie as any of its fans can tell you. There are a lot of neat concepts, the sword fighting is great, the special effects are very good for both the year it was made and the budget they had. The movie has swordfights through the ages. Sean Connery is in it. The soundtrack … Queen’s Princes of the universe – what more do you need?
The movie deals with the implications of immortality very well. Since the only way they can die is to have their head cut off, they can do all sorts of neat things. They could travel to the moon and walk around without a space suit. They can walk into the ocean and explore the deep trenches. They can drink all they want and never have to worry about alcohol poisoning or liver damage. They can live through most of human history and truly gain perspective on how civilizations change. They can play chicken with transport trucks and survive. Living forever isn’t without consequences however. They have to watch loved ones grow old and die, and in the Highlander universe they can’t have children.
These next few paragraphs will describe the premise, if you’ve seen the movie feel free to skip ahead. The premise is that a bunch of immortals walk the earth. They were born as regular humans yet after their first violent death they realize that they pretty much cannot die. The only way to kill an immortal – behead them. Every time they kill another immortal, they have what’s known as a quickening. Quickenings usually cause explosions and shoot lightning all over the place. Each quickening makes the immortal more powerful than before. Also, the immortals can telepathically sense deer.
The immortals are all competing in “the game”, in which the eventual end to the game is “there can be only one.” In other words, they are fighting until there is only one immortal left. The last immortal wins “the prize.” Nobody knows exactly what the prize is, only that if the wrong immortal gets it the human race will suffer a darkness they can never recover from. That’s just epic.
The rules of the game are simple enough. No fighting on holy ground. Since the immortals don’t know exactly how they became immortal, they won’t fight on holy ground. As far as they know, they could lose their immortality if they do. They can only fight one on one.
This movie is great for several reasons beyond what I’ve already mentioned. First of all, it doesn’t take its audience for fools. It leaves a lot of the specifics out and allows you to figure out the rest. Not enough movies do that. As good as The Dark Knight is, it seems to have the need to explain absolutely everything. Unbreakable starts explaining everything in the last five minutes, ruining any mystery the concepts could have had. Highlander rightfully holds back on this front, making the immortals all the more mysterious.
All of Highlander’s sequels are vastly inferior to the original. They’ve already announced plans to remake it however. The remakes might be alright, but they could also be really bad. Let’s wait and see how they turn out. Next time on Nerd Journal, X2: X-Men united vs. God Loves, Man Kills.