Welcome, wilkommen, bienvenue.. in the words of Gary King! And, ironically, that’s who I’m going to talk about today, and it’s mainly because I had a bit of a downward spiral kind of day.. this guy always cheers me up!
So.. Gary King. The man behind the notorious ‘Golden Mile’ in the lost town of Newton Haven. At the beginning of the ‘The World’s End’, written by the geniuses who we more commonly know as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Gary is recovering in rehab, nursing the ‘hangover’ of his drug addiction. After telling the story of the ‘failed Golden Mile’ which he and his mates (Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan)) were unable to complete in their teenage years, Gary resolves to track down his old friends, 15 odd years on, to take another crack at finishing in The World’s End pub at the end of the trail. Once he manages to get everyone involved, they drive off to Newton Haven, with ‘I’m Free’ by The Soup Dragons blaring on the stereo, to begin.
“Tonight, we will be partaking of a liquid repast as we wind our way up the Golden Mile. Commencing with an inaugural tankard in The First Post, then on to The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands, The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, and The Hole in the Wall for a measure of the same, all before the last bittersweet pint in that most fateful terminus, The World’s End. Leave a light on good lady, for though we may return with a twinkle in our eyes, we will be in truth blind – drunk!”
The trail consists of twelve pubs: The First Post, The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands, The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, The Hole in the Wall, and lastly, of course, The World’s End. Everything’s going alright, apart from the fact that Gary’s long lost ‘greatest’ friend Andy is refusing to drink, when they get to The Cross Hands, until… *plot twist* it turns out that the entire town has been invaded and substituted with robots which spout blue blood if you try to rip off a limb. So, à la horror/comedy films, Gary and the gang decide to carry on the pub crawl, Andy finally yielding to the alcohol after the seeing the rather comic horrors of the ‘blanks’, as they decide to call them. Hence, the drinking continued, the reason being that if they stopped, the ‘blanks’ would know that they knew without them knowing that they knew. Complicated, eh?
Later on, at The Mermaid (which incidentally is holding a ‘student’ disco), the boys get wrapped into dancing with three of the hottest girls of their youth- the ‘Marmalade Sandwich’. Whilst this is all going on, Steven is told the truth about the ‘blanks’: that they replicate the DNA of the person they become before killing them off. And, seeing as Gary, Andy and Peter are ‘getting it on’ with the ‘Marmalade Sandwich’, Steven realises that soon enough they’re going to get killed off too. Consequently, they run, drunk as anything, Gary trying to get to the next pub and the others to safety.
Well, to cut a long story short and not bore you all with the details, Gary and Andy make it to The World’s End. But before Gary can drink that long awaited sixtieth pint, the pub transports itself underground, where we meet ‘The Network’, brilliantly voiced by Bill Nighy, the creator of the ‘peace and progress loving’ blanks. He argues with the completely drunk Gary who contradicts himself by saying the following two things:
“There’s only one Gary King!” (Gary)
“Yeah, there’s more than one Gary King!” (Gary later on)
“But you just said..” (The Network)
“I f*****g know what I said!” (Gary)
Despite The Network’s impressive persuasive language techniques, our ambitious drunkard manages to get him to leave Earth alone. And this, in spirit with the entire film, is how that argument ended:
“It’s pointless arguing with you. You will be left to your own devices.” (The Network)
“Yeah. F**k it.” (The Network)
I laughed my head off at this point. It really captures the essence of us as human beings: we aren’t going to stand down and take forced (invasion!) and change. We like to do things our own way, because that’s the way in which we learn from our mistakes. Gary’s ambition to save us all from being essentially ‘photocopied’ and killed off is an impressive show of a human being’s courage, however damaged they are, and however completely smashed they are at the time. I think it proves that everyone, whatever their situation, can have amazing courage. All you have to do is make your voice heard.
Finally, I want to show you the ending lines:
“Who do you think you are?” (Big Ugly B*****d)
“Me? They call me the King.” (Gary)
Well. That’s it. Remember who you are because only you can make your views known. Oh, and always remember to chase after the things you love (even if it’s completing a pub crawl in your home town).