Believe: The John 117 Monument

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Believe: The John 117 Monument is a live-action trailer that was part of the Believe advertisement campaign for Halo 3. In the trailer an unseen narrator (also the interviewer from the Believe TV spots) describes the construction of the John-117 Monument as it occurred within the Halo universe. The narrator is the only one to speak throughout the entire trailer.

The trailer itself is composed of shots of the finished diorama, as well as footage of the real-world construction of the diorama used in the Believe ad campaign.


Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives: not men, for flags.

"The Next War"

The Museum of Humanity

Narrator: Nations have always built monuments to their heroes. Tributes to the defense against, or conquest of, other nations. But the monument here doesn't favor one nation over another. It is the first of its kind to commemorate the survival of a species: our species. More importantly, it commemorates the man who gave the world faith, who gave humanity a future, who made mankind believe again. Master Chief Petty Officer John One-Seventeen.

BELIEVE: The John 117 Monument

Narrator: So it's no surprise that the piece itself is special. Begun three years ago in 2607, the monument is a diorama built entirely by hand. It is a three-dimensional snapshot of the battlefield, and the soldiers who took to it that day. The scene has been reproduced with painstaking attention to detail and authenticity. Only the men and women who were there know it better. Today, we go behind the scenes to see its creation.

To ensure historical accuracy the boot camp induction scans of every Marine involved in the battle were obtained from the United Nations Space Command records. In this way the artists were able to place the right face to the right soldier. After each face is completed, it is matched to a body which has been rendered complete with uniform and body armor, then carved by hand. It was the artists vision for this tribute to humanity, that each piece be shaped by the hand of man, without the aid of robotic model-making systems. Each handmade soldier is posed, painted, and placed on the battlefield; both the victorious, and the fallen.

Based on topographical maps of the day, the artists are able to replicate each hill, each plateau, and each ravine to near exact specifications. But one of the real marvels is in the cityscape itself. After the fighting had ceased, meta-archaeologists unearthed the city's building archives. In them were found perfectly-preserved blueprints of every structure in the city. But the challenge was not to merely rebuild the structures, it was to tear them down as well. Artists worked from the city plans to recreate the destruction caused by the fierce fighting: from each bullet hole, to each piece of exposed rebar.

Finally, our enemies were also rendered with extraordinary detail. Covenant corpses that had been recovered after the battle provided the models for these fearsome recreations. To complete the picture, authentic Covenant weapons and armor specs were accessed to fully outfit the warriors.

Once the Covenant are placed opposite the Marines, a clear image begins to take shape out of the fog of history. We see how we were outnumbered, outgunned, outmatched, and seeing that we realize the importance of the monument. On that day, half a century ago, our species was pushed to the crumbling edge of extinction. And as we teetered on that precipice, staring down into the abyss, a hand reached out, pulled us back from the brink, and gave us hope. The hand of a hero.


(The Halo 3 and XBOX 360 logos flash on the screen)

Private tours of the John 117 Monument now available at