“The Tain” by The Decemberists

I got to an interesting (to say the least) part of YouTube and found this video. An indie rock band put out an EP in 2004 called The Tain and it consists of just one eighteen-minute song. The lyrics do not seem to have anything to do with the original story of The Táin, but the music video that accompanies it uses silhouette images and text to tell the tale. What interests me most is the representation of Cuchulainn (as it’s spelled here). I’ve looked up a view images of him and I love his Dragonball-esque hair and style. I was hoping that someone could open a dialogue with me on the meaning of this animation. I can’t stop watching it because I can’t tell if it’s amazing or awful. My favorite things about reading The Táin are the layers and complexities that are sometimes unapparent in other Medieval texts. It’s as much about pride and heroism as it is about femininity, empire and fidelity. It takes on various perspectives often questioning a monarch’s right to rule and right to take what they wish to be theirs. With no dialogue, it’s hard for this video version to encompass all of that, but it does really get to the heart of the importance of the Irish landscape.

Here’s a cool rendering of Cu Chulainn that I found on DeviantArt.

I would totally use him in Mortal Kombat.

3 thoughts on ““The Tain” by The Decemberists

  1. I thought this was awesome! The animation really followed the story. I watched the whole thing. Some of the lyrics actually seemed to match the story, I heard “coming in his chariot” and “The Hound lay me down” which could reference Cu Chulainn, and “Darling what have you done, you’re covered in blood” which could be referencing Medb because really she started this absolute slaughter of everyone. My favorite part of this whole video was when Cu Chulainn is portrayed as the Torqued Man. In the book it says, “he sucked one eye so deep into his head that a wild crane would find it difficult to plumb the depths of his skull to drag it out…the other popped out onto his cheek.” The way they interpreted that in the animation was fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mason,

    What an awesome find — I had never heard of this before! I watched about 75% of it and really loved the shadow puppet technique. It gave it a mysterious look but not too serious, especially with Cu Chulainn’s Torqued eye popping out. Everything about this was awesome and I will totally show this to my classes from now on when I teach the Tain.


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