In the Faceless Enemies analysis, I talk about some of the general failings of using a large army as a shortcut for Antagonism and how this diminishes the underdog status of the protagonists. In this post, I will show how the premise of the Faceless Enemy applies to Eragon (the motion picture).
The Story of Eragon:
Having crushed all of his opposition during the battle between the powerful dragon riders, Galbatorix would then turn his attention to the other pockets of resistance that would stand in his way. So, he raises an army to crush his enemies upon seizing power, including an alliance of village fighters known as the Varden.
Years pass, and Galbatorix now rules the land of Alagaesia. The Varden have a stronghold outside of the imminent reach of Galbatorix’s army. It has been prophecized that the Dragon Riders will rise once more to combat this threat, and the Varden wait patiently for this day.
The Faceless Enemy: The Army of Galbatorix.
The Premise: The Army of Galbatorix is a typical Evil Movie Army. If there is an “innocent” village, this army will swoop in will perform actions that are supposed to make you dislike them. They kill, maim, threaten, and kidnap secondary characters, faceless victims, and, in some cases, the fair maiden or princess that the hero will rescue and/or fight alongside. The main point, however, is that you are supposed to wish for their demise.
The real issue starts here:
The intent of this scene, along with the next with Brom being threatened with his life by the soldiers who wanted his gourmet chicken (really, they were going to kill him over chicken!), was that these soldiers were evil for the purpose of serving their king Galbatorix, and as such were willing to perform any act that serves this end.
As is almost always the case, except for a reference by Eragon’s cousin who would run away to avoid being forcefully recruited by the soldiers, the scene’s impact would be forgetten by the end of the film.
This is the end result of the young men that are kidnapped from the villages like the one Eragon frequents. They are taught to soldier, given uniforms and weapons, and are sent out to do the King’s bidding.
Since this is a faceless Evil Army, the soldiers in the Army of Galbatorix are not shown as having lives outside of being evil. Worse yet, this Army conscripts young men of fighting age with compulsory service (under penalty of death). The King’s soldiers will also seize any goods and valuables for use by the country’s forces at will. This is all done without reluctance or opposition within the King’s Army.
Given that the Army of Galbatorix is an army of forced conscription, it makes the final scene that much more problematic. We are supposed to cheer for Eragon and Safira as they bring fiery death upon the King’s Army, but if the army is made up forced conscripts from Alagaesia, many of whom are probably close to Eragon’s age – and more than likely kidnapped like the young men in the beginning of the film, how can we cheer for the hero in this case?