Hattip to The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen for bringing this charming and silly video to my attention.
Two of the films in the above video have provided me with real inspiration: Braveheart and Spartacus. Both do the usual film mangling of historical facts, for example: no, William Wallace was not the father of Edward III: Isabella of France was all of 10 at the time of the death of Wallace and they never met; no, there was no senator named Gracchus who led the “Republican” opposition to Crassus.
However, as works of fiction, loosely based on historical events, they do have portions that moved and inspired me and which are glancingly touched upon in the above video.
Here is the section of the Braveheart film where William Wallace makes a brief speech before the battle of Stirling Bridge.
The screenplay writer skillfully plays upon the basic human desire to correct our past actions by making a nobler decision than we did when put to the test. Wallace puts courage into his men by reminding them that if they run today, they will regret it for the rest of their lives, no matter how long those lives will be. His argument is effective only because they know that he will stand and fight, no matter if he has to do it alone. True leaders always lead the way; they do not push from behind.
I was about 10 when I first saw the movie Spartacus on tv and it had an enormous impact on me. It helped inspire a life long love of history in me, and it caused me to contemplate the paradox of victory in defeat. Here is the scene that brought that paradox to my attention, and I apologize for the foreign subtitles, but Youtube beggars can’t be too choosy:
With the slave army utterly beaten, there is one last act of love and defiance. I do not think that scene could possibly be improved upon. It is a fitting tribute to one of the consoling truths of the human condition: no matter how tragic our circumstance, it is up to us whether we act with courage and dignity.
The true source of inspiration for all Catholics to lead a good life of course is Christ. However, art, just as it can be a detriment to virtue, can also inspire “the better angels of our nature”.