"...There is a wolf in these hills, ...I can smell him..."
Sean Bean als Richard Sharpe to "General" Runciman

Quotation

 

 

origin
 

"SHARPES BATTLE" - Film, 1994-- rg/30. Mai 2006

Sharpe: "...A fair number of my fellows are Irish, sir."

Runciman: "Oh, They would be, Sharpe. They would be. I mean a third of this damn army is Irish, Sharpe."

Quotation

 

 

origin
 

"SHARPES BATTLE" - Film, 1994-- rg/30. Mai 2006

back to German Version

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharpes Battle

Die Scharfschützen - Die Wolfsjagd

Richard Sharpe, Major - Sean Bean
Patrick Harper, Sergeant - Daragh O'Malley
Rifleman Harris - Jason Salkey
Rifleman Hagman - John Tams
Rifleman Perkins - Lyndon Davis
Rifleman Cooper - Michael Mears
Rifleman "Tongue" - Paul Trussell

 

 

 

 

 

"...The civilian population were treated in a manner that ranged from the merely boisterous to downright brutal. Rape, pillage, murder, thievery, drunkenness and anything else were common. Many officers and generals looked for loot and women, with both seduction and rape being frequent occurrences..."

Fundort: Internet http://web2.airmail.net/napoleon/cruel_war_in_Spain.html#spain2

 

That is an episode that I somehow feared. How to describe the entwined storylines? There are at least three, and so one cannot have one leitmotiv for it all. It is about the wolfish French Brigadier General Loup and his ruthless policing of a remote Mountain Region. It is also about the Irish in the British Army. And it is about losses.

Also, there is something else. At first, I thought, it is the Battle, I mean, there is one, and it is fierce. But can it really explain the awe and that feeling, that I have, to watch really careful, or I might miss something important?

The story begins with Sharpe and his men in the mountains on the search for supply wagons. Sharpe, trying to understand that bloody, bloody map in his hands, has to admit, that they might have gone lost - and he obviously finds that bloody, bloody annoying. But before he really gets angry, a group of strange horsemen is seen, clad in grey uniforms. Fast, it becomes clear, that these are, despite the unusual colouring of their clothes, Frenchmen - and their leader, Brigadier General Loup, is a really nasty character.

They encounter him in the next village, were they find the inhabitants brutally slaughtered: men, women, and worst of all: even the children, and they can only save a young girl, Miranda, from the hands of Loups savage soldiers. After a short fight, the French are beaten and the two men, that tried to rape Miranda, are captured. Loup tries to make a deal with the English, to save his men. But Sharpe, enraged by what they found in the village, shows no mercy: The two Frenchmen are shot before the eyes of Loup, who swears revenge...

 

With the wolf brigade Cornwell invented a really fearsome enemy. Without question, we know, that these men are, what their name promises: A Pack of ruthless, bloodthirsty animals, who will have no mercy. It seems, that it goes with our history, that we don't have to think about what a wolf is: It is imprinted in our beings from a thousands of years old relationship with these fearsome animals. Someone says "wolf" and instinctively, we look for a place to hide. Wolves are dangerous, sinister creatures. They look for their own and will protect them, but everybody else is their enemy.

Strangely enough, when I browsed through the Internet to find a quotation about Wolves, that expresses this age old fear, I couldn't find one. It seems, that everybody today is good friends with the wolves! In countless articles, wolves are now said to be harmless, shy animals, who wouldn't attack, and that everything, that was said in the past, is wrong.... Well, well, well, it seems, in truth, we are the Big Bad Animals. Or is this just another myth, this time a modern one?

Whatever the truth is, in Cornwells early 19th Century the world is a brutal one and to survive, you better beware of the wolves!

The films:

Die Scharfschützen - Das Banner des Blutes -- Sharpes Rifles

Die Scharfschützen - Der Adler des Kaisers -- Sharpes Eagle


Die Scharfschützen - Kommando ohne Wiederkehr -- Sharpes Company

Die Scharfschützen - Armee des Schreckens -- Sharpes Enemy

Die Scharfschützen - Der Preis der Ehre -- Sharpes Honour


Die Scharfschützen - Blutiges Gold --Sharpes Gold

Die Scharfschützen - Die Wolfsjagd -- Sharpes Battle

Die Scharfschützen - Jenseits des Todes -- Sharpes Sword


Die Scharfschützen - Das verschwundene Bataillon --Sharpes Regiment

Die Scharfschützen - Todfeinde -- Sharpes Siege

Die Scharfschützen - Der Verräter -- Sharpes Mission

Sharpes Revenge

Sharpes Justice

Sharpes Waterloo

Sharpes Challenge

 

"Hogan: 'They'll just blame you for not being a gentleman.'

Sharpe: 'But I'm not, am I?'

Hogan: 'As it happens, you are, it's one of your faults...'"

Fundort: Buch SHARPES BATTLE by Bernhard Cornwell, HarperCollins Publishers, London, paperback edition 1996

As if it is not enough, to have the Gray Wolves against you, another challenge approaches in the form of the Lord Kiely, an Irish born aristocrat, who commands the "Real Compagnia Irlandesa" - the Spanish Kings friendly gift to Mylord Wellington!

Not that Sharpe suspects a thing, when he comes back from his mission and is ordered into Wellingtons tent. The overworked commander, who is in need of nearly everything but NOT of an untrained compagnie of toys soldiers, who have so far been occupied in protecting the Spanish Kings empty palace in Madrid.

So, the main concern of Wellington is, how can he as fast and as elegant as possible get rid of the Royal Irish Company without offending the Spanish King? And he has already found a solution: Isn't there this lonely abandoned fortress in the near hills? An ideal place to transfere the unwanted regiment to - on the pretext that they have to be brought into shape before they can be of use to Wellington - and who would be better to drill them than - yes - the Major Sharpe and his riflemen? And if the soldiers are seduced into deserting from the hardships of it all into the comfortably near mountains - well, that cannot be helped.

To not offend the Lord Kiely openly, the fat and incompetent but noble General Wagonmaster Runciman will also escort the party as the official connection officer. To make the melange even more colourful, Kielys wife, a quiet and distinguished lady will also travel with them. To make it even more explosive, the racy Spanish partisan leaderess Juanita, a bold piece who wears a tight fitting uniform that hides nothing and collects - amongst other things - willing officers, falls almost immediately into the arms of Lord Kiely, who cannot forgive his wife, that she had a miscarriage and so lost his child and heir.

So far so good. Sharpe, who is already under a lot of stress - he is aware of Wellingtons wish to get rid of the Palace Guard, but starts to like the men, who are the descendents from Irish refugees, begins to drill them in earnest - with the help of his faithful Irish Sergeant Patrick Harper.

He is also developing a growing affection to the brave and unpretending Lady Kiely. He handles her with a care and tenderness, that is quite unique in our rough heros usual relationships with women.

Perhaps, because he senses in her a mind not unlike his own? Despite their disparities in birth, rank and education, like Sharpe, Lady Kiely has an inert sense of what is right and acts upon her own codex of honour, no matter, what others think of her.

 

Is it that? It is fragile. You have to hold your breathe, to catch it. A sense of honesty, that cannot be helped.

 

On the other hand, there is Lord Kiely, the embodiment of the arrogant aristocrat, who thinks, he has a birthright to privilege. In a society, where officers ranks could be bought and 95 % of the officers where from the noble class, he comes with the attitude of a natural superiority. Is it a wonder, that Sharpe, the officer from the gutters, takes immediate offense?

And so, the first lesson, he gives the common soldiers is about the realities on a battlefield, that speaks another language. Where no law excists but that of survival, the rules change, and not to the advantage of the higher ranking...

 

"...'I am the Earl Kiely. Colonel of the Real Compagnia Irlandesa'

'Major Richard Sharpe. South Essex. Lord Wellington has chosen me to be your tactical adviser'

'Drill Sergeant, you mean?'

'I give lessons in killing, too'..."
Fundort: DVD, "SHARPES BATTLE" - Film, 1994

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"...The best person to kill on a battlefield is always the enemy officer. Remember that. Kill them first, then the sergeants, and after that you can kill any poor bastard you want..."
Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe, advising the soldiers of the Real Compagnia Irlandesa. Fundort: DVD, "SHARPES BATTLE" - Film, 1994

But when it comes to his first fight, Kiely reveals, that he has also a code of honour, he follows. It is that of the brave lonely knight, who challenges his opponents in single combat - man to man. A gesture, the survivor Sharpe can only shake his head about. Isn't it madness? But still, against all his instincts, and even if he can't understand Kielys strange sense of honour, Sharpe begins to respect him for it on another level.

"Patrick Harper was an Ulsterman from Donegal and had been driven into the ranks of Britain's army by hunger and poverty. He was a huge man, four inches taller than Sharpe... In battle Harper was an awesome figure, yet in truth he was a kind, humorous and easygoing man whose benevolence disguised his life's central contradiction which was that he had no love for the king for whom he fought and little for the country whos flag he defended, yet there were few better soldiers in all King George's army..."

Fundort: Buch SHARPES BATTLE by Bernhard Cornwell, HarperCollins Publishers, London, paperback edition 1996

Good for them, that they are able now to work somehow together, , because the group in the fortress is vulnerable in so many ways, that a lesser person than Sharpe would simply despair. After having solved the deserting problem with the "help" of the fear before the wolves of Brigadier Loup, Sharpe realises, that the badly damaged fort will be no protection at all, if Loup decides to storm it. And the more time goes by, the more Sharpe is convinced, that this will happen.

In a hazardous attempt, he manages to organize muskets for the lousy equipped soldiers and then, he and the chosen men do their utmost, to repair the worst damages on the forts walls and to prepare the Irish Compagnie for the Battle, Sharpe is convinced will come.

As if this all isn't enough, he has to fight another danger, he finds hard to deal with. Suddenly, American Newspapers circulate amongst the Irish troups, that tell terrible tales about savaging British soldiers in Ireland. Can this be true? Even Sergeant Harper, so far Sharpes biggest support, starts to doubt.

Sharpe can refute most of the newspapers reports, but the seed is sowed and will lead to some terrible damage.

There is an openness about the place with its broken walls, that seems to symbolize also the state of mind of the men and women in it. Nothing is hidden but seen with a clearness that hurts. Is it that? If so, then it makes these people terribly vulnerable. And it is that, isn't it? It is all about vulnerabilities, and we begin to have an idea, that nobody will come out of this story unharmed - not even we...

So, that was it. the battle had finally come. In the night, the "wolves" attacked and were beaten. Everybody fought with braveness and when the day rises, Sharpe wants to hunt down once and for all Loup. It is decided, to attack his den now, when he is weak. The Riflemen as the most experienced amongst them, will enter his fortified village and when the signal comes, Kiely and his Irish troups will come to their help from the outside.

A good plan and it could have worked, if it hadn't been for the bold Juanita, partisan leader and malice companion of none other than Guy Loup. When the riflemen come under attack in Loups Village, they wait in vain for Kiely and his soldiers. Alone against the predominant Frenchmen, they survive only with a clever trick. It is then, that young Perkins sees some men of the Compagnia Irlandesa, who seem to be themselves under heavy attack from the enemy. And Perkins, with all the enthusiasm of the very young, wants to help them. He runs to them, fighting, and shouts warnings. He is without any suspicion, when O'Rourke turns suddenly and stabs him down.

His more experienced comrades need only seconds, to understand, what has happened: A few of the Irishmen, infiltrated by the horror stories in the circulating faked American Newspapers, have run over to the other side. With desperate rage, the small group fight their way to the badly wounded Perkins, and succeed in bringing him into cover in one of the empty buildings. And it is here, in Harpers arms, screaming in pain, that he dies.



 

"He was a brave soldier,
and she was his lass."

Richard Sharpe at the grave of Ben Perkins and his girl, Miranda, who was murdered by Juanita.
Fundort: Film SHARPES BATTLE, 1994

Why? Why is it always the young? Lifes not lived. Is it that? The hardened Riflemen, who accept the ineviteable with stoicism, who have already lost so many of their group, and accepted these losses with equanimity, this, they cannot bear. At least, the boy hadn't to die alone. No such comfort was given to the handful of boys in Bernhard Wickis accusation against war - "Die Brücke". The senselessness and forlornness of their deaths are mirrored in that of Perkins', and it saddens me without end. How hurtful is it? I cannot say. That Perkins' death also meant a big loss for the little group of actors, is shown impressively in Harris Diary.

"...and non who was more loyal to his friends. And it was for those friends, that Harper fought..."

Fundort: Buch SHARPES BATTLE by Bernhard Cornwell, HarperCollins Publishers, London, paperback edition 1996

It is up to Patrick Harper, to revenge Ben Perkins death.- "Nobody touches O'Rourke - he is mine...." - And because Sharpe, who succeeded in the meantime, to bring Kielys Batallion to fight, chooses this moment to lead them into the village, Harper has not to wait long. In the chaos of the attack he seeks out his fellow Irishman O'Rourke and kills him in single combat.

The film doesn't end here, there is still the final fight between Loup and Sharpe, after Loup has killed Kiely and the last salut of the Riflemen for Ben Perkins...

 

 

 

If I should fall to rise no more
as many comrades did before
Ask the fifes and drums to play
over the hills and far away...

Fundort: Film SHARPES BATTLE, 1994, John Tams

 

You can get the Films

They ran on German TV, and now, at long last, they will come out also in Germany on DVD, since 8. November 2007

Pictures:

Background-Picture : photobucket "Pfyre", Picture 1: Screencapture from "Sharpes Battle" from www.full-of-beans.net. Many more pictures. Picture 2: "The Harper Defense League". Pictures 3 + 4: Screencaptures Harris Diary No 3, from: www.southessex.co.uk

 

  update 3. März 2007 +++ upload rg/30. Mai 2006
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