FilkThe Stone: Scenes from the life of a wanderer
- using the song "The Stone" by The Dave Matthews Band
- by Mandisa Washington

Details: The start of a dark, angst-filled theme, this Rurouni Kenshin vidclip is my most ambitious to-date, using a long song (7+ minutes) with lots of evocative instrumentals. I really wanted to keep the feel of the original song, with its desperate cry for forgiveness and repentance. That feeling perfectly complements the epic story of Kenshin, a former political assassin and Japanese revolutionary seeking redemption and comradeship on an endless journey as a masterless swordsman (Japanese: rōnin). The result captures the poetic feeling of the originals, I feel. | More Story Info | Original Song Lyrics

Setting {aerial wide-angle view}: From the air, the continent of Japan. In a series of progressive zoom-wipes, scenes of life at the surface appear.

(instrumental - String Quartet alone)

{scene: As though heeding a nationwide call to battle, the people of historic Japan prepare their bodies and minds for approaching civil war. In the farmers' villages, men and women gather old, forgotten weapons into the main street.}

(instrumental - Guitar joins)

{scene: In the plains, animals are herded away for safety, far earlier than the first frost. Among the high mountains, craftsmen sell off their remaining wares quickly, without haggling, increasing their ability to flee with their families.}

(instrumental - Violin joins)

{scene: A lone pottery-maker, a man as sturdy as the old trees about his home, seems to scent the coming bloodshed on the still-warm autumn wind.}

(instrumental - Drums join)

{scene: In the city, people hurry on their errands past a certain building where a young man dresses for the evening with a care matching that of any noble seeking a night of pleasure.}

(instrumental - Bass guitar joins)

{scene: The unnatural look of determination on his cross-scarred face, however, indicates that this man, seemingly barely out of boyhood, has known scarce pleasure in his life.}

I've this creeping suspicion that things here are not what they seem
You reassure me... Oh, why do I feel as if I'm in too deep?

{scene: Leaving the rooms that have become a true home, Himura Kenshin passes his friends, each one offering encouragement in their own way. Yahiko, Sanosuke and Misao have admiration on their open faces, while Aoshi and Saitoh (old enemies, truly) characteristically show nothing. Battle spirits suffuse all of them in preparation for treachery. Kaoru (a Friend... ) twists her fingers together, but there is no nervousness in her eyes, just a silent prayer that is as familiar to him as her tiny smile.}

Now I've been praying... for some way to show them I'm not what they see
Yes, I have done wrong - But what I did I thought needed be done... I swear...

{scene: Turning out into the yard, he sees the man whose quest for earthly justice ("Jinshuu") tormented Kenshin's friends and compelled him to tell them the history of his crimes. Noticing Megumi for the first time, worry is plain on her beautiful doctor's face. To reassure them all that this final challenger will be turned aside, and that he will return once more as the man they know, he smiles gently. The smile does not reach his eyes.}

(instrumental - Sax solo)

{scene: A stinging wind blows through the yard, carrying hopes, prayers, leaves, and the unshed tears of a man who cannot forgive himself.}
[Time shifts to the past.]

Oh unholy day, If I leave now I might get away
Oh, but this weighs on me - As heavy as stone and as blue as I go

{scene: From his mud-clogged hiding place, young Shinta watches in shock as the entire caravan, men, women, and animals, are brutally slaughtered. Mere fragments of the greater violence imprint themselves on his mind. The sounds of ripping cloth and flesh, the sticky feel of blood, and the pain in his tiny chest are the sensations that linger on that awful day. Above it all, even after the carnage is stopped and the bodies are tucked away, his "big sister's" whispered plea that he should live rings in his ears more loudly than any battlefield command ever will.}

I was just wond'ring if you'd come along
Hold up my head when my head won't hold on

{scene: Drenched in nameless muck and still dragging the merchant-slaver's battered sword, Shinta ("plains-heart"), now renamed Kenshin ("sword-heart"), walks alongside the giant mountain man towards his future training ground.
The mountain forest is rife with danger and promise for an ex-slave from the farming plains, and young Kenshin learns to adapt quickly. Every moment lived is training for the future, and the training of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu becomes his entire life. Through the brutal seasons and despite the imposing visage, Hiko Seijuurou is a firm but attentive master. His heart warms and fills with unvoiced pride as the boy becomes the man, strong in both body and mind.}

I'll do the same if the same's what you want
If not I'll go... I'll go alone...

{scene: Kenshin perseveres through the difficult life and excels at the techniques of Hiten Mitsurugi. But the fire and passion necessary for survival in that one-master, one-student school are still unfocused in the inexperienced young man. Grasping onto the first worthy cause that enters his world, he seeks guidance for his wild battle spirit among the special volunteer forces of the Isshin revolutionaries. Master Hiko cannot approve of this ill-considered decision, and demands that Kenshin abandon his plans. If not, he must prove his readiness for the outside world by defeating his teacher in the time-honored tradition of Mitsurugi Ryuu.
On the cliffs that have been both his training ground and childhood home, facing the man who has been both teacher and father to him, Kenshin refuses his master's wishes. Turning his back on his past and once more heading towards an uncertain future, Kenshin walks away. Mist from the familiar waterfall sprays crisply across his face... }

A long way AHAHO from that fool's mistake
And I'll forever pay - No run - I'll run and I'll be okay

{scene: ... and becomes the blood of another target, killed at Kenshin's hand in the name of birthing a peaceful new era. These hands which once tended mountain plants, calloused already by long years of training in sword-forms, are stained now with the blood of many men, most older than the one who murdered them. The one known to all Japanese as the Hitokiri Battousai, an assassin who strikes swiftly and effortlessly, meting out heaven's justice ("Tenshuu"). Kenshin never once uttered the moniker, but he cannot refute the truth of its application, either.
Returning to his unit's hideout, chaos and blood cover the scene, as it becomes obvious that something has gone horribly wrong among the ranks of Isshinshishi. Suddenly face-to-face with Tomoe, the mysterious woman who has fearlessly remained by his side in Kyoto, he barely hears his comrade's instructions to hide and wait. With only those battle-honed reflexes to guide his actions, Kenshin flees Kyoto-under-fire, to build a new life in exile.}

I was just wond'ring if you'd come along
Hold up my head when my head won't hold on

{scene: Working and living in the mountains once again, Battousai and the Isshin distant in mind and space, Kenshin lives contentedly with Tomoe as husband and wife merchant-farmers. Forging a place for themselves in the community is slow, difficult work, but the cover story is secure and Kenshin can almost believe that peace has come to his heart. Until the reality of life intrudes on winter's back.
Treachery and tragedy are close cousins to exile, and the ties of family and comradery cannot be broken by an interlude of pastoral life. Racing through the deceptively quiet forest, Kenshin fends off his attackers, mistaken as to their motivation and resolve. Facing the leader of the band, he demands Tomoe's safe return and perhaps unconsciously offers his own life in exchange. The Battousai is restrained by love as securely as snow weighs down the trees.}

I'll do the same if the same's what you want
But if not I'll go... I will go alone...

{scene: Playing on his advantage, the immoral spy-master attacks swiftly, successfully evading the defense of Battou-jutsu only to strike one who is not his target. Tomoe drops to the ground, graceful even in this last act of love and betrayal. From the depths of his soul, the Battousai screams his defiance to any that oppose him, while the heart of Kenshin cries out in despair. Wide-eyed in horror and shock at the violent death of his beloved big sister, young Enishi hardens his heart against the man before him... }

A Long way to bury the past for I don't want to pay
Oh, How I wish this: to turn back the clock and do over again...
(Violin solo)

{scene: ... the man now known as Himura Kenshin. Now unafraid of dying, this man who has turned aside many challengers considers the soul-sickened monster known as Enishi. Having personally created the circumstances leading to Enishi's tragic life, he feels incapable of bringing full force to bear against this young man's righteous fury. As a child of violence himself, he searches the lonely spaces of his heart for the strength to save three souls from being destroyed by the past.}

Now I'm just wond'ring if you'll come along
Hold up my head when my head won't hold on
I'll do the same if the same's what you want
But if not I'll go... I'll go alone...

{scene: Kaoru's gently smiling face returns to the forefront of his mind, and the emotions of their shared life come to quell the bitter wind in his heart. Even the sad moments, when victory seemed impossible, fill him with warmth as he recalls Kaoru's eternal hope that he will remain the good man he wishes to be. Suffused with his friends' goodwill and a love more powerful than any battle spirit, he seeks Enishi through the unnaturally thick fogbank that has spread to blanket the dojo compound... }

(Instrumental Refrain)
I need so: to stay in your arms, see you smile, hold you close
And now it weighs on me - As heavy as stone and a bone-chilling cold

{scene: ... only to find instead the broken, cross-scarred body of the woman who had become his pillar.}

(Slow and hypnotic)
I was just wondering if you'd come along
Tell... me... you... will...

{scene: Kaoru Kamiya is dead, like so many before.
Himura Kenshin has become a killer once more.}

(Alternating Violin & String Quartet w/ Bass, Sax, Guitar, Flute)

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