After learning he’s the son of Zeus, Pegasus takes Hercules to a mysterious island to meet the legendary trainer of heroes Philoctetes. And who is this mysterious character? Well…
It turns out that Philoctetes or “Phil” is a past-his-prime satyr (half man, half goat) with a passion for flirting with any beautiful woman he sees. Phil is highly upset to find Hercules and Pegasus intruding into his retirement. As far as he’s concerned, he’s long since out of the hero-training business, as he’s seen far too many heroes fall flat without “going the distance.” Apparently he’s trained them all: Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus…and the greatest of them all, Achilles! The satyr can’t bear to be disappointed again but Hercules isn’t giving up: he proudly proclaims himself to be the son of Zeus but Phil is not impressed. In fact, he finds the situation hysterical, as “One Last Hope” begins…
So, ya wanna be a hero, kid?
I have been around the block before with blockheads just like you
Each and everyone a disappointment
Pain, for which there ain’t no ointment
So much for excuses
Though a kid of Zeus’, asking me to jump into the fray
My answer is two words….(before Phil can turn Hercules away he’s struck by a bolt of lightning presumably “encouragement” from Zeus)….O.K
In a similar vein to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” “Son of Man,” and “Something There;” “One Last Hope” is a montage song, that is it uses a series of short moments to cover the passage of a lengthy period of time (in this case, several years of training). Initially, as one might expect, the training does not go well:
I’d given up hope that someone would come along
A fellow who’d ring the bell for once
Not the gong
The kind who wins trophies
Won’t settle for low fees
At least semi-pro fees
But no – I get the greenhorn
Part of Hercules’ training involves cleaning up the old training course and making it usable again. Along the way, Phil begins listing off his “hero rules” of which there are 101. A notable example includes: “Rule 95: Concentrate! (Hercules throw goes wide) Rule 96: AIM!!!”
I’ve been out to pasture pal, my ambition gone
Content to spend lazy days and to graze my lawn
But you need an advisor
A satyr, but wiser
A good merchandiser
And whoa! There goes my ulcer!
I love Danny DeVito’s sarcasm throughout much of this song; he’s so skeptical about Hercules ever completing the training and yet he persists!
I’m down to one last hope and I hope it’s you
Though, kid, you’re not exactly a dream come true
I’ve trained enough turkeys
Who never came through
You’re my one last hope so you’ll have to do
Finally though, the long years of training (how many isn’t made clear) begin to pay off and finally the scene transitions to an adult Hercules that’s mastered all of Phil’s training courses, including a doozy of a finale. In short order, Hercules defeats or evades every obstacle and rescues the “damsel in distress.”
Demigods have faced the odds
And ended up a mockery
Don’t believe the stories that you read on all the crockery
To be a true hero, kid, is a dying art
Like painting a masterpiece, it’s a work of heart
It takes more than sinew
Comes down to what’s in you
You have to continue to grow
Now that’s more like it!
I’m down to one last shot and my last high note
Before that blasted Underworld gets my goat
My dreams are on you, kid
Go make ’em come true
Climb that uphill slope
Keep pushing that envelope
You’re my one last hope and, kid, it’s up to you!
It’s taken years but Hercules has finally finished his basic training with Phil and he is beyond ready to get off the island so he can become a true hero and return to Mount Olympus! Phil isn’t sure that Hercules is ready, but after a little more begging the satyr decides to take the fledgling hero on a “test run” and go to Thebes, a city with a lot of problems, problems that only a hero could fix.
Those are my thoughts on “One Last Hope,” another great song from composer Alan Menken. Let me know what you thought of this song in the comments below and as always, thank you for supporting the blog, it means everything to me. Have a great day!
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