First, Cicero’s Death in HBO’s Rome. Warning: contains blood.
I watched this yesterday and it struck me as one of the most wonderful death scenes I’d seen in ages. It was noble, it was emotional, and the casualness of the ‘job’ seemed very much in line with a culture alien to our own. Most of all, it was immensely poignant. The viewer feels something and is moved.
Death scenes are interesting ones aren’t they? Some writers ham it up massively, others like to spring surprises on the reader and slip a character out of the story in a casual way that will upset their audience.
I think it’s good when death means something, though – that the writer is in control. All too often I read a death scene and you can tell that it’s not been thought through – it’s just a plot point, something that needed to be done to get onto something else. I’m not talking about getting the right level of emotion etc, because that’s something that varies from character to character.
But think how personal death is in the real world. Think how the act of killing affects the families of the deceased. Fantasy fiction tends to be littered with the dead, but how much of it actually means something to the characters around them? (Even if the meaningless of it all is the meaning.) Though the notion of death (especially what happens after someone has died, the afterlife etc.) is something I like to think I’m conscious of, it’s a topic I’ll certainly try to refine.
There’s a related post here on the glorification of killing in fiction, but I’ll save that one for another day.