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Shane, WHO IS THE HERO?
Movies have evolved a great deal since the days when a couple fighting scenes and a small love story satisfied audiences. Today movie plots are much more complicated and have much more action, thanks to modern day technologies. Although these new technologies seem to make movies increasingly complicated, some crucial roles in movies will never change. One thing that has remained constant in the film industry is the role of the hero. No matter what the genera of the film and or when the film was made the hero’s always share similar characteristics and are put through similar series of tests to prove their heroism. When these tests are completed it seems to pull everything together in their films. Although the hero Shane in the movie Shane and the hero Ripley in the movie Aliens are from two separate generas and are also from separate time periods, the hero’s in each movie share characteristics and are put through similar tests that make them, in theory, one in the same. Heroic characteristics start to become evident right from the start of each of the movies.
At the beginning of the movie Shane we see (the hero) Shane on his horse, coming from the mountains and we are not really given much backround as to where he came from. Similarly, at the beginning of the movie Aliens we see Ripley (the hero) in some sort of bed, and when she is introduced we are not given much backround as to where she is from. In both movies the hero’s were introduced without giving much information on there past. This is a characteristic of movie hero’s because at the start of movies director’s don’t want the audience know much about the hero’s. They do this so the audience has the task of slowly looking for characteristics throughout the movie that makes the “hero” actually fit his or her title. These so called “tests” of heroism that the audience must look for are also very similar in movies and can also be illustrated in these two films.
One of the first tests in both films that the hero’s endured was a test of their character strength. For example in the movie Shane even though Joe doubted him at the start he still sticks up for him when Ryker harasses him because that is what he believes in. This is similar to Ripley’s situation near the beginning of the movie Aliens.
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Another test of heroism in both the movies is the ability to help. In movies the hero is always willing to help even when he or she does not have to and he or she is always a good helper. This is illustrated in both movies. In the movie Aliens it is illustrated when they are loading the drop ship up in preparation for the battle.
Ripley: I feel like kind of a fifth wheel around here is there anything I can do to help.
In this scene even though Ripley does not have to help she still volunteers. And when she does help the marines are amazed at her ability to help. Similarly in the movie Shane this is illustrated when Shane helps Joe take out the stump he has been working on removing for years. Being a good helper adds to the qualities of a hero because it shows the audience that the “hero” is good and always willing to go the extra mile to help others. This in turn helps the audience trust the hero.
One of the most important qualities that a hero must have is trustworthiness and loyalty. Although there are many small things that help us build trust in movie hero’s there is usually one major event that proves the hero’s loyalty. In the movie Shane proves his loyalty when he goes to fight Ryker. This proves that Shane loyal to the homesteaders because he is willing to give up life ( and life itself) with them for the good of the homesteader families. This same loyalty is shown by Ripley in the movie Aliens when she risks her life to go and save Newt (the little girl) because she promised her she would not leave her in the scene where she says:
Ripley: I am not going to leave you Newt, I mean that, I promise.
Loyalty is one of the most important characteristics that help hero’s bring everything together in movies. Loyalty is important also because it helps us to see the “hero” as someone that we would want to be our friend. Hero’s need this loyal friend quality because it helps the audience relate to the hero as human rather then a super-human.
Lastly the most important test that a hero must conquer in a movie is the test of skill. Shane’s test of skill comes when he has to defeat Ryker and his gang at the end of the film. Likewise, Ripley is tested for her skills when she has to single handedly defeat the mother alien at the end of the movie. Skill is the last thing that makes the hero a hero in the eyes of the viewer. This is because when the hero passes the test of skill he or she proves that not only does he/she have qualities that are desired in human being, but the hero also has qualities beyond desirable that make the hero almost “super-human”.
Even though movies of the present may have different types of hero’s (e.g past male hero’s, present female hero’s) then movies of the past, the characteristics of hero’s in movies have not changed. It is still the mystery, character, willingness, loyalty, and skill that make great hero’s in movies. These qualities were demonstrated by Ripley in the movie Aliens and by Shane in the movie Shane. These ingredients not only helped bring films to a resolution but they also let the audience find the hero in the movie without ever being told up front. It is safe to assume that although there are many types of films from many different times, the role of the hero has not changed because hero’s have always and will always posses certain characteristics that classify them as hero’s.