Books or films can be wonderful role models and teachers. I like to think about the wisdom given in scripts brought to life by characters. For me, it’s the pinnacle of what makes a film great instead of mediocre. If there’s nothing learned, what’s the point? I’m not talking about the one-liner quotes that identify a film like, “Here’s looking at you kid” or “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” I am thinking about films that demonstrate a poignant moment about what it means to be human. Even shining moments cling in a crappy movie. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
Gracchus: The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it’s the sand of the Colosseum. He’ll bring them death and they will love him for it.
I like this quote because it reminds me of the power of the media. Here, in Rome, the Colosseum was the source of mob entertainment. Instead of reason and laws governing, what governed was the gore and instant gratification of the mob’s desires. A reminder that history often repeats itself and a call to question your government.
From Key Largo:
Frank McCloud: When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses.
All of us have dreams, but the obligations of life can often times keep the personal aspirations from coming true. That struggle between personal goals and caring for others is such a common theme. Go for your dreams. Take care of others. Who wins? Here, life sets up your boundaries and you have to make peace with it.
From Pride and Prejudice comes my favorite role by Donald Sutherland.
Mrs. Bennet: Have you no consideration for my nerves?
Mr. Bennet: You mistake me, my dear. I have the utmost respect for your nerves. They’ve been my constant companion these twenty years.
Oh, I think this quote speaks volumes of matrimony. Those that manage to stick through it for decades do so because they are able to accept the foibles of their partners. Those that manage to joke about it in a loving way are the true winners.
Dory: Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
Would you believe me if I told you that Dory is my hero? Who else perfected the art of “ignorance is bliss” better than she? Best of all, her ditzy-ness is veiled wisdom. Life is hard. Fear and tragedy test us. Dory shows the way–what else can one do when disaster strikes? Keep calm and keep on swimming….
Why was Heath Ledger’s Joker so fantastic? He was wiser than a “sane” man.
Batman: Then why do you want to kill me?
The Joker: [giggling] I don’t, I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me.
Batman: You’re garbage who kills for money.
The Joker: Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.
This is so Shakespearian as well as Deconstructionist Theory. The savage is really the civilized one and the civilized one is the monster. In life, those who seem to be monsters are worse than the ones we’re supposed to hold in high regard.
Alice Kingsley: Who’s to say what is “proper”? What if it was agreed that “proper” was wearing a codfish on your head? Would you wear it?
Oh, Alice from wonderland. Here’s a person rejecting conformity. Speak to your inner heart and be true to yourself. Even if it means you are different. Finding the courage to speak out against absurdity. At the very least, listen to that inner drummer and follow your own song.
The Big Lebowski is full of lots of wisdom. You won’t get it unless you’ve seen it.
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
The unlikely hero that could be you and me. The thought that there are good guys in the world and the human race hasn’t succumbed to the lowest denominator. Long live The Dude.
What wisdom have you learned from film?