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Film / Pilgrimage

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Pilgrimage is a 2017 film starring Tom Holland, Richard Armitage, and Jon Bernthal. A medieval thriller, it tells the story of a group of monks charged with the safe passage of a holy relic. The journey does not go smoothly, to understate things, and the group are picked off one by one.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguously Human: The Mute. He's insanely tough, improbably good at tracking, occasionally flies into a violent berserker rage, is clearly trying to atone for something, and never speaks a single word until the end when Raymond de Merville asks him where he came from, and the Mute replies "Hell." It's heavily implied that he's a former Crusader, but we never get an answer on whether he's being literal or metaphorical when he says he came from "Hell". After being stabbed by Raymond, the Mute kills him, stands back up and then advances on Raymond's last three men, leaving open the question of whether he's just a ridiculously tough dude driven by religious fanaticism, or some kind of actual supernatural entity.
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  • The Archer: One of the Norman men at arms is a veteran archer with a grey beard. He seems to be the most competent of the rank-and-file men.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Irish, who are portrayed as violent warriors wanting only riches from the various groups encroaching on their land.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Characters switch freely between English, Gaelic and French, often within the same conversation.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The last we see of the Mute is him advancing on Raymond de Merville's soldiers after killing Raymond and sustaining what should be a mortal wound in the process.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Raymond de Merville's weapon of choice is a mace, which he uses in combat in the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The jewels pried off the reliquary become useful later.
  • Covered with Scars: The Mute takes off his shirt a few times in the film, each time revealing a mass of scars across his chest and back.
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  • Dual Wielding: The Irish chieftain wields a sword and axe at the same time.
  • The Fundamentalist: Brother Geraldus sold out his own father for heresy and feels no guilt.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The Mute's body is covered with battle scars, but which are only visible when he takes his shirt off, and he's a good guy. Raymond de Merville has a hooked scar by his eye, and he's a bad guy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Mute sacrifices his life towards the end of the film for Diarmuid.
  • Jerkass: Brother Geraldus. Worsened when it is revealed that when Geraldus discovered that his father was supporting heretics in France, he had him tortured and then burnt at the stake. As a result, their lands went to the Church, securing Geraldus’ future. Phew.
  • Kill 'Em All: Diarmuid is the only character who's still alive at the end, except for Cathal and the Mute, who are both mortally wounded and unlikely to survive.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The relic is hinted to have divine power, but it's never really clear. The monks clearly believe it does, after it's struck by lightning early on but shows no visible damage. The most overt example is when they pull it out and follow the sound of bell chimes through a bog. The bell has an mundane explanation, but it's never clear whether it was divine providence.
    • The Mute is almost superhumanly strong and his only line is telling Raymond that he came from "Hell." Is he just a really tough dude trying to atone for his sins during the Crusades, or is he actually some kind of demon/angel sent by God to protect the protagonists?
  • Misery Builds Character: Perhaps the moral of the film, considering the ending, in which Diarmuid is left alone on a boat to make his own decision about where he goes next.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: And how. The Mute delivers multiple of these, most notably towards Raymond de Merville.
  • Red Herring: Geraldus is told not to drink water from a stream downriver from a fairy portal because the water is polluted. He ignores them, and both he and the Mute drink the water. We later see that the water is actually fouled by an unseen cow carcass. You might expect Geraldus and the Mute to get sick, but neither suffers any ill effects, and the issue amounts to nothing.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The Mute is implied to be a former crusader given his cross tattoo, scar-covered body and proficiency in fighting, but who he is, what happened to him and why he chooses not to speak are never revealed.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Raymond de Merville and his men tracking the group through the woods, a bog, and across a river. Also the Mute, when he is able to track the stolen relic.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The relic is discarded and most of the characters die. It was all for nothing.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The remaining Irish flee when their chieftain is killed.
  • The Voiceless: The Mute does not speak, though he can, first hinted when he audibly grunts in the third act and then confirmed when he says a single word to Raymond de Merville.
  • Wham Line: Asked where he comes from by Raymond de Merville, after already having received a fatal blow, the Mute utters his only line in the film: "Hell."


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