The BBC crime series “Peaky blinders”, about the confrontation of the criminal world of Birmingham and the cunning British “cops”, is breaking records of popularity, eclipsing the masterpieces of the masters of detective genre, including stories about the ingenious amateur detective Sherlock Holmes and the shrewd Miss Marple. And no wonder – the creators of “Sharp Visors” have proven both the ability to build an intriguing plot that keeps the viewer in suspense from the first to the last frame, and the signature British humor, and attention to detail, and excellent knowledge of history, which turns moviegoers into the same connoisseurs.
It shows the world that British gangsters used to wear fancy caps with razor blades set into the visors, so in their ruthless and deft hands the cap would instantly transform into a ferocious weapon. But what is the meaning of the name of the melody-leitmotif of the movie “Red Right Hand,” which reminds one of the traditions of the wild tribes, painting themselves in all kinds of colors or the images of children’s “horror stories”?
History of the song “Red Right Hand.”
The British themselves, who are proud of their great literature and quote it appropriate and inappropriate, take it to several brilliant masters of the word – from Shakespeare, to whom they attribute all the strong and original poetic discoveries, to the brilliant rebel George Byron or our contemporary Stephen King. There is another version, according to which the expression requires knowledge not of the rich literature of the British Isles, but of their no less colorful history. The right hand, painted red, was the symbol of the ancient Ulster, one of the Irish kingdoms before British rule. And it belonged to the divine Labride, son of the sun god Nuadu, whom the connoisseurs of the world’s religions compare with the beautiful Apollo, familiar to any schoolchild, the deity not only of sunlight and poetry, but also of divine retribution. The only flaw in this version is that the series has absolutely nothing to do with the struggle for Irish independence.
The answer to the intriguing question is given by Nick Cave, who not only sang the song, but is also thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of the series’ creation. “The Red Hand” is an image from John Milton’s epic, full of many meanings poem “Paradise Lost,” written on a biblical, or rather Old Testament, subject. Among the heroes of Paradise Lost are not only the forefathers of mankind, Adam and Eve, but also the Lord God, representatives of the angelic host and Satan himself, who once was the most brilliant and powerful of the angels, but rebelled against his creator and was thrown down from Heaven with shame and rumbling. And the “red right hand” is not at all a “blood-soaked hand,” as amateurs often translate, but the scarlet hand of an angry deity, which will certainly catch and punish the apostate, no matter how deep the depths he may be hiding in. Which is what happens in the end in the poem, where Satan receives retribution for his shenanigans against the first humans.
So the red right hand is retribution, which no longer catches up with mythical but real earthly criminals, no matter how proud they may be of their cunning, sagacity and courage. In addition, this image is the embodiment of the guile of the criminal boss, who lures people into his net as well as the Devil, tempts them with wealth, invulnerability and power, and then if not surrenders his underlings into the hands of relentless law enforcement officers, then at least leads the unfortunate to a sad, but deserved end.
Thanks to “Sharp Visors,” the tune became so popular that it entered the British and world charts of the mid-1990s, as well as many movies, TV shows, including documentaries and parodies. What’s more, many fans of this gangster saga believe that the tune was actually born in the 1920s, a time when there were many brilliant composers whose creations still amaze the world, from Gershwin to Prokofiev.
The meaning of the song “Red Right Hand.”
Now we understand who the sinister man with the red hand is, who is mentioned in the lyrics and beckons the simpletons of the town, promising them will and glory (and to some, the ability to freely express their criminal instincts). This mysterious, tall, handsome man who hands out piles of greenbacks (dollar bills) to his fans and fulfills their deepest desires is the head of a crime syndicate, a.k.a. the devil in the flesh. But, as befits a demonic being, the stranger whose shadow looms over the slums and ghettos, cunning and insidious, and ordinary mortals – only helpless “cogs” in the complex mechanism of conspiracies. As soon as a cog ceases to be useful, the man in the black cloak ruthlessly discards it. So this song, which has gone around the world and can be heard in dozens of TV shows and movies, including the mega-popular X-Files, is a warning to all the simpletons who are captured by the lure of a criminal career and fly to their doom like blinded butterflies to fire.