“The Ring of Beasts” is the inaugural production of Kingdom Kome, a premier production company founded in 2020 by multi-hyphenate artist Cameron Scott and International cricketer Kagiso Rabada. It is a short film that serves as an introduction to the Ad Regnum Universe, born out of the imagination of Cameron Scott. The story takes place in an undefined time in the fictitious Forgotten Lands, an expansive landscape marred by dust, rust, metal and blood.
“The Ring of Beasts” tells the story of twin brothers, Romulus and Remus played by Cameron Scott and Hungani Ndlovu respectively. After being captured, the brothers, are trained as pit fighters and sold into slavery at which point they’re separated, but destined to meet each other again. In this world, Romulus and Remus and Fighters like them are fodder for the rich owners who they fight on behalf of, they are to be used as the owners see fit, be it for entertainment or money.
The short film was inspired by the horrific and inhumane world of dog fighting. It takes that world and flips it on its head by applying it to humans. Now people, not dogs, are the ones engaged in a constant, brutal fight for survival. Their freedom having been unceremoniously ripped from them, they are brutalised and treated as less than human. In exploring the dark themes of animal cruelty through this metaphor, “The Ring of Beasts” not only captures the violence of the dog fighting world but also raises the stakes for the viewer by bringing it even closer to home. These human pit fighters’ lives mirror those of their real life canine counterparts, in that they too are made to fight until incapacitation or death for trade and conflict resolution, but also for sport and the prestige of their owners, fellow humans. This is a look at man at his most primal, stripped of civilised society’s masks and rules who do we become?
“Originally I wrote the Ring of Beasts as an activism piece against dog fighting after being asked by the NSPCA of South Africa to do a video for them, I found the world of dog fighting to be so horrific when I was doing research that I withdrew, but I was convicted to make something that showed the brutality of that sport in a different way. What if the “dogs” were humans?”Cameron Scott, writer
Though Remus and Romulus start out as brothers with a deep love for one another, their sale into slavery marks the beginning of the end as that brotherly love is tainted and twisted to fit their respective owner’s desires. Pit fighters are taught to use hate and rage, to best their opponents, even developing a bloodlust over the years. This, of course, is a necessity in the ring, if one aims to survive for as long as possible and perhaps gain ones freedom. But it also requires a certain amount of stripping of ones humanity, to achieve. Empathy is not an ability that is celebrated in the ring, nor will it help you.
Violence permeates the world of “The Ring of Beasts”, this is not a world for the faint of heart and the film encapsulates that. Gory acts of violence are played out on-screen much to both the delight and horror of audiences. (a commentary in itself isn’t it?) What is it about violence on-screen that thrills us as much as real life violence sickens us? Perhaps there is a certain distance that the screen provides, while at the same time providing a story onto which we can, as an audience, project our own pent up rage or feelings of injustice and disempowerment.
As such, while violence serves as a way to define the context of the world of “The Ring of Beasts” and it is certainly used to that effect, it may also serve as an opportunity for the audience to release and to feel otherwise ‘inappropriate’ emotions from the safety of their seat.
The protagonists Romulus and Remus are not only marked by the unique circumstances of their world, but they themselves are unique to the world as twins of different races, born to the same mother. This is the reason they are shunned by their society at birth. By holding up this jarring reality for the audience to face, of blood brothers of a different race, the idea of race as we understand it and its seeming significance, comes into question and therefore so does racism itself.
This is an epic tale set in a desolate land, as part of the epic Ad regnum universe. And although the short film is an abstraction of a bigger saga and Universe, none of the weighty or dark themes and issues explored within the narrative are sacrificed. Instead they are woven seamlessly into the fabric of the story serving rather than distracting from the narrative. Kingdom Kome’s goal is not only to produce premier content that travels the globe but that entertains while educating as well, “The Ring of Beasts” is an example of that goal realised.
“Each piece for us is different, the goal is get them linked and connected eventually like the likes of Marvel’s MCU or Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings canonical worlds, but all really inspiring cinema, or art for that matter, must draw from the real. It grounds us while our minds dance in the sky. With that said, the bigger story of “The Ring of Beasts” focuses a bit more on the theme of slavery, which, like dog fighting, is something that unfortunately we overlook often.”Cameron Scott, writer