Disclaimer: Potential spoilers ahead, however this is an oldish film so if you haven’t watched it by now, Why not!?. Also I’m basing this article purely on the first film.
The World Of Highlander
Highlander uses very simple but effective world building. It is even simple compared to other fiction set in our world. However its simplicity does not detract from the film, if anything it strengthens it. At no point in the film where you feel as though there has been a huge info dump.
How does Highlander achieve effective world building?
The mythology of Highlander is based upon 3 rules attached to our own world. Other parts of the world building is left to the viewer’s imagination as extra story lines are hinted at. An example being:
“You must leave her, brother. I was born 2,437 years ago. In that time I’ve had three wives. The last was Shakiko, a Japanese Princess… When Shakiko died I was shattered.”
– Ramirez confronting Connor about his love life.
1. Immortal Characters
An immortal character cannot die from old age and can only be killed by having his head decapitated. Humans are fascinated with death so this gives these characters an element of awe to the viewer.
2. There Can Be Only One
All immortals are waiting for “The Gathering” a time where they will all gather together and fight down to the last immortal. The survivor becomes “The One” a powerful all knowing being.
This is brilliant because it provides a good reason to have these immortals hunting each other down. It also gives a good explanation as to why they keep themselves hidden as opposed to using their power to rule great nations (though I believe one or two do).
3. Holy Ground
Immortals are not allowed to fight on holy ground. There is no explanation given as to why this is Ramirez simply states that it is an ancient tradition that no immortal will break. Even the Kurgan follows this rule strictly when Connor tries to throttle him in a church.
This simple world building allowed the film to become a cult classic and the window into the world of Highlander. There have been numerous spin offs, Tv Series and novels set in this world. Each new part of the franchise has then been able to raise the complexity of the world building.
Thoughts for your world
Can you sum your world up in one sentence?
How could you break your world down into a simple, easy to digest window. Leave a comment below.