The 13th Warrior (1999)
Demystification via violence that reaches back to Predator (1987). Here, “What the hell are you?” is answered: “It’s a man.” Not beasts, not creatures of magic, but flesh. “If it bleeds we can kill it.”, though, as we come to see through what is probably McTiernan’s most sensitive (and anthropological) film outside of Medicine Man (1992), there are no exact lines to be drawn. As the descent into the cave later in the film marks a decent in our primordial humanity, we find the “It’s a man” declaration pointed back at us. The film’s mess of bustling civilization, Nordic, Islamic, barbaric, finds us at our full expression: art (the poet and chronicler), religions both animistic and monotheistic, violence and corruption on every level, and most importantly, the glimmer of hope that comes with true communication, with telling the stories of our people and sharing the stories of others.