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Golden Age Arc III: Descent

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Golden Age Arc III: Descent
Movie 3 Poster
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Japanese Title: ベルセルク 黄金時代篇III 降臨
Romanized Title: Berserk Ougon Jidaihen III Kourin
English Title: Berserk Golden Age Arc III: The Advent
Director: Toshiyuki Kubooka
Writer: Ichirō Ōkouchi
Runtime: 120 minutes
Release Date(s): February 1, 2013 BR / DVD 19th June 2013
Chronology
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Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey Berserk (2016 Anime)


Berserk Golden Age III: Descent (ベルセルク 黄金時代篇III 降臨 Berserk Ougon Jidaihen III Kourin) is the third and final movie in a trilogy of films adapting the Golden Age Arc from the popular manga series Berserk. It serves as a prequel to the 2016 anime series.

Synopsis

Having a vision of himself as a child seeing a castle on a hill while playing war before finding Guts behind him, Griffith awakens in his dark and shadowed cell. Griffith notices a single brick in the wall is pushed out from the its slot from which small, deformed masses of flesh appear. The creatures address Griffith as their "Prince" and claiming that he is sought for an audience. Griffith peers through the hole in the wall and sees an infinitely large space filled with four inhuman silhouettes and horrific visions of his comrades' death. One silhouette address Griffith as "kinsman" and "king of longing" while telling him that they will soon meet at the appointed time and place.

A year has passed since what remained Band of the Hawk have been branded outlaws by the King of Midland, the Hawks' secret camp attacked by armored men led by a foreign assassin who takes Casca hostage and theratens to behead her if she does order her men to stand down. But she is saved by the surprise appearance of Guts, who forces the assassin and his men fall back. While the rest of the Hawks are overjoyed that Guts returned, Casca has Guts come with her to a secluded area the following day and attacks him. While Casca blames Guts for Griffith's downfall as his departure ruined their leader, she understood his reasons before ceasing her attack. She also explained she wanted to be by Griffith's side as she loved him, but accepted it can never be and tells Guts to look after the others before she attempts to fall to her death down the waterfall.

Guts reacts quickly enough to grab her hand and saves Casca, who is upset that he keeps risking his own life to save her. One thing lead to another and the two find themselves making out underneath a nearby tree with moss-covered roots, Casca realizing that she is in love with Guts as the swordsman asks her to leave with him once they saved Griffith. After sex, Guts and Casca fall asleep together in each other's arms before the former wakes up sensing a strange presence approaching them. Hearing a noise from the dark brush as the sky darkens, Guts sees a mysterious skeletal horseman who addresses the swordsman as "Struggler" and tells him of an event that will soon occur and that he can escape the death that awaits his comrades. The Skull Knight then turns and leaves, fading into thin air as Guts yells at him for answers.

Guts and Casca later return to camp, the former learning that the Hawks received intel on where Griffith is imprisoned. While Rickert is sent off to the mountains to find a safe route out of the country, Casca will lead a group composed of Guts, Judeau, and Pippin while a second squad led by Corkus will cover their escape. Sneaking into Windam, Casca's group meets with their informant: Charlotte. The group soon enter the Tower of Rebirth where Griffith is imprisoned at, going down the flight of stairs as Charlotte explains that the tower was built above the lost capital of the kingdom of Supreme King Gaiseric whose empire was destroyed by God's angels. The group eventually reaches the end of the staircase and find Griffith's cell. When Casca opens the door, Guts finds Griffith's naked, malnourished and scarred body lying face-down on the floor. Guts runs to hold Griffith in his arms, seeing the damage done to his body. It was only when he and Judeau momentarily removed the metal helmet covering Griffith face, telling Casca to not look at him, Guts breaks down in tears as Griffith comes to and sees the sadness in the man to stop his attempt at strangling him.

But the group find themselves locked in by the torturer, expressing delight that he now has more people to play with. When Guts slowly rises and asks him if he is responsible for Griffith's mangled appearance, the torturer believes he is safe and gleefully describes every act of torture he committed before showing off Griffith's severed tongue as his lucky charm. This sends Guts over the edge, busting the door while impaling the torturer with his sword. After using his dagger to cut off the torturer's own tongue, Guts lowers his sword to send the torturer falling towards his death. The group then find themselves attacked by Midland soldiers that the torturer called for, Guts fighting his way through them as the Hawks leave Charlotte and escape. When the King of Midland learns of this, he orders his men after them. Once Casca, Judeau, Guts and Pippin reach the others, Griffith getting shot in the arm, Corkus orders the Hawks to decimate the pursuers.

Reaching the grassland plains near the border of Midland, after inspecting Griffith's severed tendons while bandaging him up, Judeau gives Casca the bad news that their leader will never be able to walk or wield his sword again. Heartbroken, Casca relays the information to the rest of the Hawks which shakes the group as they silently comes to terms that Griffith will never be able to lead them again. But some of the Hawks realize that Casca could still lead them and she, keeping Guts from telling them to "finish what they started", announces that might consider it. She ends the meeting and explains to Guts that the rest of the Hawks still depend on Griffith's dream, unware that Griffith is watching them. As Guts talks with Judeau over what would be their next course, Gatson and the Hawks' Raiders requesting to leave with Guts, Casca finds herself being weakly mounted by Griffith while she was changing his bandages. Soon after, Casca terafully tells Guts that she cannot bring herself to leave Griffith as plan and pleas Guts to go without her to pursue his own dream.

Griffith, still awake and witnessing Casca and Guts, has a vision of his younger self running off towards the castle in his dream. Seeing only the castle and nothing else, Griffith somehow got the horses' reins with his teeth and propels his cart away from the camp with Guts and Hawks chasing after it. The cart later breaks down and Griffith is propelled into shallow river. Coming to with his left arm almost broken off, Griffith attempts to end his life upon noticing a nearby log with a particularly sharp branch emerging from the water. But Griffith moved his neck a inch away from the branch's point at the last second with only a shallow puncture wound. Griffith break down before finding his Behelit by accident as Guts and the others find him while a solar eclipse occurs. As Guts sees strange humanoids on the other side of the river while reaching him, the blood from Griffith's neck slowly run down his arm and makes contact with his Behelit, which rearranges itself into a complete face. In a silent scream, it transports everyone present to strange realm.

The Hawks are freaked by their new surroundings, unable to comprehend this new world's nature, before Casca orders them be calm and take formations. At Guts carries Griffith back to the others, the strange humanoids explain the time of the Eclipse has come as the guardian angels of God, the God Hand, appear. The last of these demonic entities, Void, welcomes the Hawks and Griffith to this holy ceremony as the latter recognizes the God Hand from his visions in his cell. When he hears Void call Griffith "kin", Guts yells at the God Hand that Griffith is not a demon like them. This muses the winged woman Slan, expressing admiration for their friendship while explaining to Guts that he and rest of the Hawks are to be sacrificed so Griffith can become like them. The smallest of the God Hand, Ubik, adds that it is honor reserved for the one who obtained the crimson Behelit, the Egg of the King.

While Guts explains that he and others have no intent of letting the demons sacrifice them, Void clarifies that it is Griffith himself who shall offer them up and that it has been long preordained by Causality. With that, the God Hand member Conrad causes an enormous hand to rise up from the ground with the faces carrying Griffith up while Guts is forced to climb his way up. As the Hawks watch Guts begins to slowly climb up the massive arm with only his dagger to use as a handhold, Griffith is subjected to a vision by Ubik that showed him what kind of person he truly in how he is willing to climb his way through numerous corpses to reach his goal. Once Griffith comes to, Void tells the young man to sacrifice his loyal "wings" in return for new "wings of darkness" to fulfill his dream as Guts reaches the top. Seeing Guts, noting him to be the only person who made him forget his dream, Griffith accepts sacrificing the Band of the Hawk.

The gigantic hand closes around Griffith while Void proceeds to brand the Band of the Hawk, stating their deaths shall give life to the "new child of darkness". The ceremony goes underway as the inhuman beings that serve the God Hand, the Apostles, transform into their true monstrous forms and massacre the Hawks. Guts can only watch from the top of the enormous hand while making a futile attempt to break Griffith free despite knowing this was his decision. But Guts is soon forced to defend himself from the Apostles climbing up after him. Down below, as Corkus runs for his life in maddened delusion before he is killed by a Female Apostle, Pippin sacrifices himself to cover Judeau as he flees with a horrified Casca. The two did not get far as Judeau dies protecting Casca from a pursuing Apostle and she is quickly captured by those that followed. All the while, feeling each of his comrades' agonizing deaths, Griffith feels himself losing his empathy as he sinks deeper into another plane of existence where he is shown by a higher power the great design of the world itself.

With the God Hand watching him fight the Apostles, Guts fights them on his way down before freefall into a pool of blood among the severed remains of the Band of the Hawk. Overcome with dread, Guts calls out to Judeau, Pippin, Corkus, his old raiders unit, and any other survivors, but he receives no replies. His voice breaks off when he calls out to Casca and he begins to fear the worst, seeing what appeared to be Pippin on top of the hill. Guts runs over, only to find it is Pippin's dead body hollowed out as lure by a slug Apostle before finding himself surrounded by Apostles parading with the remains of his comrades. This drives Guts off the edge as he attempts to fight them all before a loud heartbeat is heard, drawing all their attention to the giant hand as it opens to reveal Griffith: Transformed into a being that Void christens as Femto.

Using his wings to land a few feet away from Guts, Griffith stretches one arm out horizontally to have one of the Apostles bring the barely conscious and naked body of Casca before him. Guts watches in horror as Griffith begins to rape her, unable to move when [Borkoff|an Apostle]] bites down on Guts' left forearm. But the sight of Casca being violated by his former commander infuriates Guts as he is eventually forced to sever his own arm to free himself, something which interests the entire God Hand as they watch the human lunge towards Griffith to stab him in the face with the broken sword. But Griffith hurls Guts back with a telekinetic attack before several Apostles pin Guts down. Guts struggles violently while he can only watch as Griffith has his way with Casca, who she pleas him not to look. Watching Casca being raped by Griffith would be the last thing Guts will ever see with his right eye as one of the Apostles' claws punctured it

Suddenly, the Skull Knight forces his way through the interstice and briefly clashes with Void before fighting his way through the Apostles to reach Guts and Casca. After escaping a gravity field Griffith instinctively produced, the Skull Knight grabs Guts and Casca with the new God Hand member allowing them to escape. The senior God Hand are fascinated by this unforeseen turn of events, Slan explaining to Ubik that they cannot see all possibilities while Void deems it to mean nothing as Griffith's ascension has marked the becoming of a new age for man: The Age of Darkness.

Four days later, waking from a dream of the fallen Hawks marching towards a light, Guts sees Rickert and is told that they are in a cave near the house of a blacksmith named Godo and his granddaughter Erica. Having saw the whirlwind where they were suppose to meet, seeing the Skull Knight fight Nosferatu Zodd before entering the storm and emerging with Guts and Casca, Rickert inquires about what happened to their comrades. This agitates Guts as he asks where Casca is, learning from Erica that she is bathing at a waterfall deep within the cave. While he mustered the strength to stand and reach her, Guts finds Casca crying out when he touched her and learns that she appears to have lost her memories and now has the mind of a scared child.

Despite Rickert's pleas for him to stay, having a lot on his mind, a shocked Guts runs off into the woods before collapsing from exhaustion on a grassy field as the sun sets. Guts then finds himself bleeding from the neck without provocation. Guts then hears whispers and murmurs from the rustling grass, finding himself attacked by spirits that attempt to take possession of his body. The Skull Knight arrives at that time and tells Guts that the Brand of Sacrifice, which keeps him in a constant Interstice, has cursed the man to be forever hunted by specters and other creatures of darkness. Taking the Skull Knight's sword, Guts tells the figure that this is no different from war as he spends all night fighting his ghostly opponents without end until sunrise.

Guts later adorns himself with new equipment, including a prosthetic hand and a large sword, before setting off on his quest to hunt down and kill Griffith.

Notes

The film covers the end of Griffith's torture in the Tower of Rebirth to the aftermath of the Eclipse, with the following differences to the manga:

  • Guts' first duel with Silat is not adapted; the movie skips to Silat's ambush of the remaining members of the Hawks after their first year in exile.
  • The flashback to Guts's rape at Donovan's hands during his and Casca's first time making love does not occur, and Casca does not get strangled.
  • The Skull Knight's warning about the Eclipse happens shortly after Guts and Casca make love, instead of being the impetus for Guts to rejoin the Hawks.
  • Rickert's encounters with the Count, Rosine and Puck's circus troupe are written out of the story.
  • Casca's immobility as a result of being horrified at the sight of Griffith's crippled body leads Judeau to take the keys from her and unlock the torture mask himself. Originally, Guts shouts to Casca to give him the keys.
  • Rather than the Hawks taking Charlotte hostage to escape from the tower, she returns to a separate belfry where she can survey the Hawks in their escape from Windham without her. The Hawks ambush the gates and a caravan is prepared for Griffith so he can escape.
  • The King of Midland does not age considerably after the one year time-skip and simply orders a division of the Midland Army to give chase. Consequently, Corkus' ambush is directed towards the chasing army and the escape goes much more smoothly; the encounters with the Bākiraka assassins do not occur.
  • The flashback to the King's attempt to rape Charlotte does not appear in the film.
  • Like in the 1997 anime series adaption, Wyald and the Black Dog Knights do not appear in the film, with Zodd's second appearance before the Hawks being written out and the band finding out Griffith's disabilities on their own.
  • As Griffith is thrown out of the caravan, he does not imagine what a normal life with Casca could have been like.
  • Rather than his final words comprising of a failed love confession, Judeau dies in Casca's arms regretting that he ended his life being "all talk".
  • Casca's last scene before the rape at Femto's hands has her being rushed by demons instead of having her sword broken.
  • When Guts emerges from the pool of blood during the Eclipse, Gaston is already dead.
  • Guts does not see Casca in the grip of the tentacled Apostle. Instead, his encounter with Femto starts with both of his arms free, and Guts has his left arm caught by Borkoff when he tries to get to Casca as Femto starts to rape her. He also yells "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" at Femto as he's molesting her prior to this.
  • Guts does not scream Griffith's name when he frees himself from Borkoff and charges Femto.
  • While Griffith is raping Casca, Guts attempts to stab him, but is stopped by Griffith's telekinetic abilities. However, the sheer power of Guts' determination and hatred allows him to force himself forward and thus almost manage to stab Griffith in the eye with the broken sword, but he is quickly blasted back by another surge of the new God Hand's newfound powers. It is only when Guts tries to get to him again that the Apostles pin him down.
  • In Guts' first encounter with restless spirits, the Skull Knight does not toss him the Sword of Thorns; he takes the Sword of Thorns of his own accord and attacks the spirits until daybreak. The "declaration of war" speech is also cut down considerably.
  • The film covers the story up to Vow of Retaliation before time-skipping to Guts, having acquired the prosthetic cannon arm, his new black armor and the Dragonslayer, walking off into the snowy night to go after Griffith and the Apostles as the Black Swordsman. This means that the miscarriage scene with Guts and Casca's child, the final night with Casca in the elf mine, and the fight with the Swine Apostle where Guts uses the Dragonslayer for the first time are not present in the film.

Cast

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