Saturday, February 05, 2011


While I was blogging about my Lazy Saturday, I naturally went to IMDB to get links to the movies I was mentioning in the post. They had a banner across the top inviting me to watch a clip (not a trailer) from the upcoming thriller Black Death, starring Sean Bean. The clip is about two and a half minutes long.

There's a moment toward the end of the clip where the spokesman for the town offers his right hand to Sean Bean, who hesitates...

And during that offer of a hand and the hesitation, I wondered if people really shook hands in the Middle Ages, or if it might be a more recent cultural invention.

... and then decides to shake hands. Then he shifts his sword, which has been in his right hand in readiness for whatever danger the village may have held, to his left hand and shakes.

That's when I realized that a handshake is much more profound than a "Howdy, good to meet you."

A handshake is a disarming of oneself, a laying oneself bare to the risk of fatal attack. Sean Bean left himself undefended by his own sword (yes, he had his men as backup) when he gripped the right hand - the sword hand - of the stranger.

We speak about certain people having a "disarming smile," and this moment in the movie captures what that term means: someone whose smile is so warm and reassuring that you would willingly put down your defenses before them.

I don't know anything more about this movie, except that IMDB called it a thriller. So I suspect that this village has one or two secrets that the clip didn't reveal. But it taught me something already, that sometimes the little things in life have much bigger stories to tell.

I'll be shaking hands in the future with a fuller understanding of just what that means.


Malott said...

Interesting clip... So they need to find a sorcerer in the village?

I want to see this movie... Loved the look of the village... Though the tidiness and layout seemed a little odd.

Handshakes and disarming smiles... I live in a small town and work one job in another small town, and another job in an urban area.
Handshakes and smiles work in all three places, but in the urban area they are received differently... sometimes with suspicion and always with more caution. I find that if I assume the attitude of a harmless oaf, my friendliness is more welcome.

SkyePuppy said...


I really was struck by the danger inherent in the handshake accepted. Perhaps people in the urban area still mentally carry swords...

Delta said...

Great insight Skye!