It might be said: Courage No one is born with courage, but rather born with the potential to be courageous. Courage is not always an act of great bravery, but can also be expressed in the most average day to day actions. But when death is staring into your eyes, only a handful of people can persevere through the hardships and challenges using the courage in their hearts. Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.
Many composers portray courage in the presence of death, danger and fear and show that to be able to go beyond the boundaries of death, danger and fear one must show the courage to stare into the eyes of death itself. Roberto Benigni in his film ‘Life is Beautiful’ (1997), Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1854) and Andrew Stanton’s ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003) all contain characters who display tremendous amount of courage and be able to stand up against life risking situations.
In these texts, composers have implemented techniques to show that courage is fumed by the feelings of determination, love and to save a life. To be able to act upon a life risking situations one must show determination. Roberto Benigni’s film, ‘Life is Beautiful’ is ‘jam-packed’ with characters that show extremely courageous characteristics who are ambitious and make a genuine attempt to maintain them. The character Dora displays the feelings of determination as she attempts to unite with her family, as her son, husband and uncle are forced on a train which is transferring them to a concentration camp.
Dora understanding that this train will lead to unavoidable danger is the courage that was displayed. Dora asks the officer courteously to get on the train, when she is rejected her tone and facial expressions suddenly change into a more serious state when she demands, “I want to get on that train. Did you hear me? I want to get on that train! ” It is evident through this speech that Dora is determined to stay with her family, because she believes her family is undoubtedly worth risking her life for.
In addition to the speech, Dora’s outfit is bright red and symbolises her ambition, love and determination. Her beautiful red coat juxtaposes with the situation and environment, as her clothing portrays courage and on the contrary the smoke filled sky and the gloomy colours of the soldiers portray the tragedy the train is headed towards. This scene clearly shows Dora’s determination, displaying her courage to act upon a situation leading to unknown dangers. As well as Benigni, Alfred Lord Tennyson also shows the need of determination when being courageous.
Tennyson’s poem is about soldiers fighting for what they believe in, knowing death can be just around the corner. Similar to Dora, the Light Brigade soldiers must show determination in order to accomplish and reach their goals. The repetition of “Into the valley of death, Rode the six hundred” symbolises a point of no return, where death is imminent. It also emphasises on the immense need for determination for them to advance into a fearsome clash of swords. “Volley’d and thunder’d,” the onomatopoeia instills a strong sense of fear into the soldiers and emphasises on the inescapable danger of the situation.
The constant verbs and visual imagery allows the reader to feel and see the horrors of the battle allowing them to understand their determination. Both texts depict the necessity of determination to show courage specifically in a wartime period. It is the determination shown by Dora and the soldiers which allows their audiences to truly see the courage displayed when faced against death, danger and fear. It might be said: Determination is not the solitary factor to be courageous. It is also evident that love has a crucial effect on an individual to be courageous.
The central figure in ‘Life is Beautiful’, Guido, shows an intense amount of courage and it is all done out of love for his son. When they are at the concentration camp Guido sacrifices many things in order to keep is son happy and nescient of the fact that the situation is ominous. In order to keep his son nescient, Guido, pretends to be a German translator, changing the rules about the camp to be about a game he made up for his son. The strong aggressive tone of the officer is antagonised by Guido’s humour and the tense situation was also juxtaposed by the constant close ups of
Joshua’s cheerful and bright face. It is this scene were Guido has placed himself in an intense situation which displays the love and courage within him. The officers are shown holding weapons and speaking in an aggressive town but it is also the background knowledge of the situation which allows the audience to understand the immense danger that is present. It is this knowledge of immense danger that portrays Guido’s courage – fumed by love for his son – to put himself in a situation where he is gambling with his life.
Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ does not only show determination, but also emphasises the love the soldiers hold towards their country. “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Their but to do and die,” the repetition of ‘Theirs’ shows the soldiers’s patriotism because it emphasises the soldiers do it without question, they completely trust their commander’s words and will do whatever necessary to bring their country to victory. The love of the soldiers is what shines their courage. Cannon to the right/left/in front,” uses visual imagery to show the intended audience the unavoidable danger that is present, but the soldiers advance forward, marching with courage shining with love for their country. The love Guido and the soldiers have are similar because it is purely acting on their own will, and consecutively for the sake of someone other than themselves. It is evident the soldiers have tremendous courage to charge into the ‘jaws of Death’ and doing so by acting upon the words of their commander – out of love for their country – which they did not question, and only obeyed.
The notion that determination and love are needed to be courageous are not the only factors in this concept. It is also evident the ‘want’ to save a life plays a significant impact on an individual performing a courageous act. Guido, in the climax of the film, leaves the salvation of his room in order to search for his wife and to save her from the rotting camp. With the constant sounds of explosion and gunshots and with the contextual knowledge of the situation it allows the intended audience to view his courage and his will to save his wife.
By only stepping out of the sleeping rooms, Guido had put himself in imminent danger and death can hit him at any time, but Guido courageously pushed forward in order to save his wife’s life. Andrew Stanton’s ‘Finding Nemo’ is about a ‘fish’ father who courageously and desperately travels across the world in search for his son. Marlin and his companion Dory encounter numerous situations where they had placed themselves in a life threatening situation.
In order to find where his son is kept captive Marlin must keep a dangerous, aggressive and hungry fish distracted while Dory reads a piece of writing that leads to Nemo. Marlin is in an extremely dangerous position where he has become the bait and from the contextual knowledge of the situation it is evident the courage displayed by Marlin is driven by the feelings of saving his son. The speed of the music and camera shots gradually increase to a higher pace, camera angles change accordingly allowing the intended audience to feel the suspense of the situation.
Both composers – Bengini and Stanton – used the camera techniques, and sound to their advantage to create a suspenseful scene and to show how dangerous the situation is. Both protagonists put themselves in extreme danger in order to save a life. This evidently shows the courage driven by the ambition to save a life, even when faced by imminent danger. It might be said: The composers used different techniques and ideas to show the fundamentals of courage in their texts.
Through their knowledge and perception of the world they all showed determination, love and saving a life, in different forms. It is evident that courage is being scared to death and still being able to continue, as there is nothing more feared than death itself. The characters and situations discussed in the different texts proved to show that determination, love and saving a life are all a necessity to being courageous against a life threatening situation and hopefully their intended message of courage is clearly depicted to all intended audiences. finished