ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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Art of the Saber & Sullivan Ballou

Thanks to the confluence of affordable digital video cameras, sophisticated video-editing software and high-powered personal computers, the primary entry barrier of independent filmmaking rests on the imagination of its creators.

Art of the Saber, while lacking a formal script, represents one extreme example of indie films - an apotheosis of stylish cool that borrows heavily from classic Hong Kong martial-arts films ... and features a spectacular light-saber duel that must be watched repeatedly to truely appreciate. Shot in rural Maryland by three brothers (whose parents did that weird thing that Asian parents do when they name their children in 'themes' ... in this case, 'The Letter C' (Calvin Ho, Cary Ho and Clarence Ho)), Art of the Saber is a supurb showcase of martial arts acrobatics and moody eye candy.

Through the film, I was also introduced to Maj. Sullivan Ballou, a Union solider in the American Civil War, whose touching missive to his wife was the basis of the film's opening monologue:

July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days ... perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more .

If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. How great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows -- when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children -- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me -- perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar -- that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Sullivan Ballou died a week later, in the first Battle of Bull Run. (Source, background story and full letter)

Art of the Saber

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