Solomon Kane: Puritan, Swordsman

POSTED: September 11, 2009 16:30 | By: Carol Borden

So I admit it, I’m excited about Solomon Kane not because it’s “Van Helsing without the sucking,” but because I’ve read Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane stories. The best thing about Solomon Kane is also the craziest, which is usually how it works with me.

Before Kull and Bran Mak Morn and Conan, there was Solomon Kane, Howard’s first adventuring swordsman. Swordsman and puritan. I love that Howard would even think of something like that. While other puritans are busy writing sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” or persecuting and being persecuted, Solomon Kane is out buckling his swash or blowing the smoke off his flintlocks in a suspiciously papist sash. Faced with dying and violated white girls, the arrow of Kane’s wrath trembles on the string, but he’s not interested in the carnal world.

It’s just God’s will, ma’am.

In the stories, his wandering and killing are simply extensions of God’s will and there isn’t much of Kane’s inner life. He is constant. And so, more than once, Solomon Kane travels to an Africa with the racialized portrayals and patois typical of the time, but with an almost Lovecraftian twist in The Black God and a secret vampire kingdom. I expect in the movie there will be less racial sketchiness.  I also expect there will be a more complex and explicit motivation for Kane’s wandering and more self-examination, which is good for a movie.

But I’m awful fond of the stolid, single-minded Solomon Kane in Weird Tales.

(Solomon Kane drawing by Joel Priddy, creator of The Preposterous Voyages of Ironhide Tom and “The Amazing Life of Onion Jack”).

(This post originally appeared on the official blog for the 2009 Midnight Madness Programme at the Toronto International Film Festival)

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