Leaders can come in many shapes and sizes, but some of the most notable have shown themselves as leaders of men through the mighty conflict of hand to hand combat. When your men’s lives are on the line, you need to stand up and guide them to victory. Unfortunately, society has degraded to the point that we’re having trouble finding role models for excellent leadership. Even people who we have elected to lead us are hardly fit for the job, as scandal and corruption run rampant throughout the system. We almost have to look backward into history in order to find the men who have enough confidence and moral fortitude to stand up for what is right and to fight for their ideals. Of course, these fights aren’t debates. This week’s two films exhibit three leaders who have proved themselves on the battleground.
Length: 177 minutes / 2.95 hours
A leadership vacuum is an interesting phenomenon. When a leader dies and does not designate a successor, chaos can ensue. The absence of a leader, be they strong or not, tends to attract leaders from adjacent areas who want to expand their empire. Usually, these new leaders will exploit the people they have just easily conquered. And yet, through this persecution, often stronger leaders will emerge and stand up against the injustice being done against them. These leaders will gather grassroots support and build a rebellion that will fight for their freedom, which could have been kept if a leader had been designated in the first place. However, the battles and rebellion often will produce much stronger leaders who appreciate what they have fought to gain, instead of having their authority merely given to them by the last ruler.
Winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1995, Braveheart shows Mel Gibson at his best as he portrays manly-man William Wallace. Returning to Scotland after many years, William Wallace finds his homeland under the rule of the English because the late king of Scotland passed away without anyone to pass the kingdom on to. Collecting together a rag-tag group of men to act as Scotland’s army, Wallace leads these men into battle against the English with impressive results at the battle of Stirling. Wallace then takes the fight into the English’s territory when the Scottish army storms the city of York. A strong leader, with a great pep-talk monologue, William Wallace is perhaps the best known figure from Scottish history due to Gibson’s portrayal.
Length: 155 minutes / 2.58 hours
The military is often a source for great leaders. There’s no better place to find out who has courage and fortitude than on the fields of battle. Men who have earned their rights as soldiers are often looked up to by new recruits and are thus respected for their valiant efforts. These leaders who have been grown from the ground up are much better suited to lead large battalions of soldiers because they understand the intricacies of the fight they are guiding their men into. On the flip side, a politically motivated leader who is appointed to lead (instead of evolving there naturally) will have a difficult time motivating the troops to march blindly into battle, not knowing what to expect. As a result, the political leaders will often be jealous of the natural leaders and will do whatever they can in their power to oust the natural leaders from office.
Russell Crowe won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2000 for his role as Maximus in Gladiator (which also won the Best Picture Oscar that year). Leader of Roman military forces, Maximus is picked by Marcus Aurelius to become the next emperor of Rome. This angers Commodus (son of Marcus Aurelius) who feels as though he deserves the position due to the fact that he is the heir to the current emperor. In order to get his way, Commodus kills his father and orders the death of Maximus. However, Maximus escapes and lives undercover as a slave who rises through the ranks to become a gladiator, eventually competing at the Colosseum in Rome. Maximus shows us that natural born leaders are often acknowledged by those above them, and will sometimes bide their time in order to achieve their goals.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 laudable leaders