"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind driving you mad." -Morpheus, The Matrix
This isn't a movie review list and it's not comprehensive. It's just some notes about a few movies I think are useful for the purposes of awakening and why, or that aren't and why not. With tools of understanding, bad is often better than good.
Major themes represented on this list seem to be these:
- Nature of self/man
- Untrustworthiness of mind/memories
The only thing I might advise with regard to movies and books is to raise the material up to the level where it becomes of value to you. Orwell might have been writing an anti-communist manifesto, but Nineteen Eighty-Four is much more interesting viewed as the struggle between man and his confinement. Apocalypse Now is about something more than Viet Nam, How to Get Ahead In Advertising is about something more than rampant commercialism, etc.
::: American Beauty
"I feel like I've been in a coma for the past
twenty years. And I'm just now waking up."
I've included American Beauty mainly for what's wrong with it. Lester's major death/rebirth transition shows promise, but what does he transition to? Backward to teenage crap, not forward in any sense. A fear-based regression. Stupid car, stupid drugs, stupid vanity, stupid skirt chasing. Not at all redeemed when Lester sees his own folly near the end or by sappy/smarmy dead guy voice-over.
The movie is slightly redeemed by the presence of the quasi-mystical neighbor kid and his video footage of a windblown bag:
"That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever."
::: Apocalypse Now
"In a war there are many moments for compassion and tender action. There are many moments for ruthless action what is often called ruthless what may in many circumstances be only clarity, seeing clearly what there is to be done and doing it, directly, quickly, awake, looking at it."
You'd think that Apocalypse Now Redux, the director's cut, would be the version to watch, but all the stuff that was rightly cut from the original has been wrongly replaced. (Raising the interesting point that directors and authors often don't understand the higher applications of the stories they're telling.) Stick with the original over both Redux and Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Apocalypse Now is all about the Horror. A journey of discovery, into the heart of darkness, arriving at this horror. What's the horror? How do you get there? Why would anyone make such a journey? Should you make such a journey? Why or why not?
Note the powerful epiphanies that drive the film. The first assassin's letter home, ("Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids..."), Dennis Hopper's youthful exuberance, Kurtz's diamond bullet, Willard's "...I wasn't even in their army any more."
::: Being There
"Spring, summer, autumn, winter... then spring again."
A lovely film ruined by a foolish walking-on-water stunt tacked on to the end. Without that nonsense the best spiritual movies would be free to think, to decide, to wonder. Instead, the movie zips itself up tight with its clever little dumb-it-down twist. Hit the stop button when Chauncey is straightening the sapling, before the ruinous denouement, and it's a fun, lovely film.
::: Blade Runner
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die."
Were you born five minutes ago? Of course not, and you have the memories to prove it. You'd know if they were artificial implants, because, uh...
::: Cast Away
"I couldn't even kill myself the way I
wanted to. I had power over nothing."
If a man screams on a deserted island and there's no one to hear him, does he make a sound? Is it enough that he hears it himself? What if not? What's left when you take away everything?