Fiat Lux (Let there be light)
I was trying to remember some of the most beautiful conflicts I’ve seen and one came to mind, It aired on Cartoon Network from 2001-2004, early naughties cartoon called Samurai Jack and was produced by a russian animator called Genny Tartakovsky. Simply it tells of a noble samurai and his adventures on his journey home.
In one such episode, he is encountered with a ninja, who he fights in a tower as the sunsets. He sees the ninja using the ever increasing shadows to his advantages, Samurai Jack decides to reveal he is aware of the same techniques but instead has trained to use the light, rather than the shadows.
What then follows is some of the most beautiful fighting choreography I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
Not only for its visual presence but for all the metaphors involved. The increasing realm of the shadows, good vs evil, light vs dark, samurai jack being forced to stay in the light, how good and evil contrast and show up against different settings, The duality of good and evil and their fearful symmetry, The need to climb up the tower to get a closer to the light, The folklore between the honourary samurai and the decietful ninja battling it out. It’s chockerblock with shit.
Eventually the tower is almost pitch black and only two beams of light on either side of the samurai. His time on this planet is nigh and he may never make it home. Even in the darkest of times, he never gives up on the light, which ultimately saves him in the end.
The scene is six minutes lnog and only has a few sentences at the beginning by the samurai, it is carried by a fantastic selection of background music, which never fails to bring suspense and truly beautiful silent movment by the two adversaries, as they fade in and out of our and their respective visions. Truth be told, I believe Genny had the idea for the entire episode based around this single scene. What causes the scene to grow is the ever shifting sense of the light moving and the knowledge soon, darkfall will fall, leaveing our hero completely helpless, as the ninja decides to play the waiting game.
While being a tantalising dessert for the senses, the scene for me is the telling of a simple story. If not mildly cliche. Mostly it goes against one of my favourite wesley snipes’ quotes from 1992’s Passenger 57
‘Always bet on black’
but then again one could also use another Passenger 57 quote as a retort to my negative outburst.
‘Those are my emotions acting without the benefit of Intellect’
So with Intellect on myside, and a squeeze of modern day skeptism, This scene shows that even the smallest light in your life can be used to overcome adversity. We all have something small and bright that we can look upon in times of trouble. As with Samurai Jack, we all have a latent training to use this light but rarely do, we shouldn’t be afraid to let this light into our lives, our minds, our hearts and souls. Especially those normally surrounded by complete darkness. They may just save you when you least expect it…
So I close in the immortal words of Harry Dixon Loes’ beautiful Hymn,
This lil light of mine, I’m going to let it shine (X3)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine….
(sino luceat, sino luceat, sino luceat) for all you latin boffs out there.