03 October 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #2

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #2
He-Man relinquishes the power of Grayskull and the Sword of Power.
"The Problem With Power"



At Snake Mountain, Skeletor explains to General Tataran that he wants to use his physical lack of heart to his advantage; declaring that He-Man will undo himself. A while later at the Royal Palace, Man-At-Arms reports to King Randor and Queen Marlena that Skeletor has been sighted in the small village of Zak, a location in the Crystal Sea. Arriving at the village He-Man, Man-At-Arms and Orko realize that Skeletor is constructing a huge poorly built dimensional gate. He-Man confronts Skeletor, but the villain taunts him, leading him in a chase around the dimensional gate. Frustrated, He-Man punches the structure to get at Skeletor. When the structure falls the debris lands on General Tataran, disguised as a villager, and protected by a force field. Convinced he has killed a man, He-Man leaves the village, and heads for Castle Grayskull...

As night falls on Castle Grayskull, atop one of the turrets, the most powerful man in the universe solemnly looks out over the landscape of Eternia. As the wind gently blows through the night sky, He-Man quietly muses to himself, "Today I broke a promise..." He pauses briefly before continuing, "...and proved myself unworthy of the great power that was given me." He-Man unsheathes the Sword of Power, and looks at it for a moment. Wracked with guilt He-Man declares, "And if I am unworthy -- I can no longer permit myself to be He-Man." With a heavy heart He-Man holds aloft the Sword of Power and commands, "Let the power return!" The lightning and the power of Grayskull is drawn back into the sword, and with that He-Man is transformed into Prince Adam. He lowers the sword and holds it momentarily in front of him, contemplating his actions. With a sudden final gesture he lets go of the sword, and it falls into the abyss that surrounds Castle Grayskull. As Prince Adam watches the sword disappear into the darkness, thunder and lightning dramatically fill the abyss. A hand appears on Adam's shoulder and he turns to see his mentor, Man-At-Arms. With a saddened, but silent Sorceress now present, Man-At-Arms quietly informs Adam that he has brought the Wind Raider, and that they should go home. Adam takes one final look into the abyss, before walking away; leaving Eternia without its champion.

This scene is so wonderfully perfect and so powerful that it is, at times, frustratingly hard to describe and give praise to. No other scene in the series has all the components come together so beautifully. Tom Tataranowicz's initial idea, Bob Forward's dialogue, the artists emotion-filled drawings and backgrounds, Gwen Wetzler's fantastic direction, and John Erwin's voice acting. The structure of this memorable moment is incredibly well thought out. We have He-Man at Castle Grayskull, the source of his powers, staring out across the very landscape he was chosen to protect. Visually the animation on this scene is first class. In order to create the mood for the scene He-Man's hair smoothly blows in the wind; his face is wonderfully expressive; and the moon adds depth by producing the shadows necessary to emphasize the drama of the scene. Even when He-Man is looking at the Sword of Power, his expression shows us that he realizes that this will be the last time. By far the most powerful expression of the scene is the sheer pain etched on the face of Prince Adam as he watches the Sword of Power descend into the abyss, because he knows that by surrendering his powers he has given up a part of himself. When Man-At-Arms shows up at the end of the scene, the compassion in his voice reminds us of their friendship, and the important role that he has played in Adam's life over the years. Even though the two men do not discuss the situation, their reliance on each in this crisis is obvious. The silent appearance from the Sorceress is unexpected and incredibly powerful. Her head is lowered, as if witnessing a funeral. And in truth, she is. The funeral is for He-Man. He-Man is dead. The sheer implication at the end of the episode's first act is breathtaking. This scene represents He-Man's greatest moment, the moment when the most powerful man in the universe questions himself. With the death of the villager He-Man's morals are challenged in the greatest of ways. Believing he has taken a life, the only ethical choice in his mind is to surrender the power of Grayskull. "The Problem With Power", particularly through this scene, confirms He-Man's character, his belief system, and his integrity. It is the undeniable goodness in his heart that makes He-Man the hero of Eternia. His actions validate the character, keeping him righteous and wise, but also making him fallible and human. We see the exterior, the interior, the thoughts, the feelings, the anger, the joy, the heroics, the personas, the morals, the mistakes, and the inner soul of He-Man. No other episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comes even close to the emotional and dramatic power of this installment.

1 comment:

Kevin Martinell said...

All so true, according to your description, James ... The moment during this scene that really stood out for me was actually seeing He-Man transforming back into Prince Adam right before our eyes, and not out of shot, as seen in "No Job Too Small" and "The Ancient Mirror of Avathar!" For possibly the most "depressing" scene in the series, everything certainly was animated and directed to perfection. Thanks for reading and God Bless! ~"KevyGuy" :)

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