Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 96

Be excellent to each other. Always carry a towel. Films are packed with philosophical moments.

What philosophical moment have you taken from a film that has influenced your life?




Panelist: BevfromNYC

My number one would be the entire movie Dogma. It was just an interesting take on spirituality, religion and Christianity.

Secondly was in The Devil Wears Prada when Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci are in a workroom and Hathaway is threatening to quit the fashion magazine because she is a “real journalist” and that she couldn’t possibly learn anything from these people who take fashion so seriously. Tucci says “Okay, quit then. Why should we care? But remember that what you deign to do, others would kill to do.” That hit home me. I realized that I did exactly the same attitude as her and that he was right. It made me re-evaluate the way I worked and to try and get the most out of every job I took. But mostly I learned from that one scene to respect the passion of others even if my passions lay elsewhere.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

There are some excellent, true but negative moments. Men in Black smartly said that a person is smart, but people are panicky and stupid. The Usual Suspects taught us that power is often just about being willing to do what others won’t. Star Trek V asked us why God needs a spaceship, by which they really meant to look closely at what people are telling you God wants. But the one that influenced me the most is Spock in Star Trek II: “I have been and always shall be your friend.” This reminds me that good friends are friends you keep forever.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

One that comes to mind is the character (hence the film) Dirty Harry. The point was, of course, that sometimes the only difference between the bad guys who would do us harm, and the people we pay far too little to protect us from them, is only a matter of which side they are on. This is an oft repeated theme, of course (see Jack Bauer and 24, for example.) I think it reminded me that policemen, despite their training, are only human. Yet they are so often reviled and considered pigs. It has reminded me to cut them a certain amount of slack.

Panelist: ScottDS

"Every age is the same. It's only love that makes any of them bearable." - H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell), Time After Time

"Curiosity, that's what kills us. Not muggers or all that bulls--- about the ozone layer. It's our own hearts and minds!" - Greek chorus leader (F. Murray Abraham), Mighty Aphrodite

Panelist: Floyd

As a Christian, I'll say Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. All too often of course, religion becomes either too intellectual and unfeeling or, at the other extreme, all feeling and little thought. I tend toward the former in my faith -- favoring reason over emotion -- sometimes too much. Mel Gibson's depiction of the Crucifixion put a visceral stamp on an event that is not just mere historical fact -- but one of eternal spiritual significance. In other words -- it is an event that should spark an emotional response as well as an intellectual acknowledgement. And while I believe Christ's words to St. Thomas (aka "Doubting Thomas") that "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." I also know that seeing does help make lasting impressions. While this Protestant doesn't believe all of the Catholic theology in Gibson's film, we agree on the essentials and his masterful film helped solidify an already strongly held faith.

Comments? Thoughts?

50 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

This was a tough one and I commend everyone's answers! :)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Agreed! This was surprisingly tough. And I'm probably gonna continue to come up with answers as the day goes on!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It really was. I thought it would be pretty easy at first, but it wasn't. As for additions, 80's films were full of things like "live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse" but those don't seem that wise anymore. ;-P

Rustbelt said...

I'll third that motion that this was a tough one.

But one movie that did come to mind was 'Firefox.' The scene where Dr. Baranovich (Nigel Hawthorne) explains the plan to Mitchell Gant (Clint Eastwood) is just classic to me. Up 'til then, the viewer could assume that Gant agreed to go on the mission to steal the Soviet jet only because he was blackmailed by the US government and could care less. He selfishly prods Baranovich (who is working with the SIS and knows their wishes will result in him getting killed), to explain why he's willing to die for the cause and not save his own skin.

G: So, what happens to you?
B: It doesn't matter.
G: What do you mean it doesn't matter? I don't understand why you're all so willing to die.
B: I don't expect you to understand.
G: Don't you resent the men in London ordering your death like this?*
B: Mister Gant, you're an American. You're a free man. I'm not. There is a difference. If I resent the men in London who are ordering me to die, then it is a small thing compared to my resentment of the KGB.

What can life in the USSR be like that a suicide mission is the only way for Baranovich to get back at it? Is it for a cause or revenge? Both? Either way, Gant seems to have more focus and determination following that talk. Soft-spoken, but powerful words. Gets me every time.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Do you know what that actually reminds me of? In The Hunt For Red October, when Sam Neill says, "I will live in Montana." It's one of those moments that hits you with just how much freedom we have compared to the rest of the world and how it never occurs to us.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, both of those movies really make me proud to be an American.

AndrewPrice said...

Me too. They are both deeply un-cynical and absolutely clear on why we are the good guys.

ScottDS said...

Andrew (and Rustbelt) -

I just watched Red October again and even more than the "pickup truck" line, it's Sam Neill's amazement that we don't need "papers" to travel from state to state.

Tennessee Jed said...

when I first saw this question, my reaction was "wow, I need to come up with something "weighty" or really meaningful. You might think dozens would come to mind, but ultimately, I do what I almost always do in this series; use the first thing that comes to mind. It's not like thee things are huge revelations. We probably, at least on some level, already understood them. But when done well, movies have that wonderful ability to remind of something, and remain in our memories to keep on reminding us.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - "Time After Time" was a lovely little film, and is one I almost always watch (in whole or part) if I come across it while channel surfing.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I spilled for the O.S.T. Blue Ray set, and what truly blew me away was how good the previews for Season One looked and sounded (7.1 Dolby True HD) I have viewed the first five films (too late for your series, alas) but still find the Wrath of Khan, and it's poignant ending) to be the quintessential Star Trek Movie

ScottDS said...

Jed -

Yeah, it's a charming little movie, and one of two movies in which Mary Steenburgen falls in love with a time traveler. The other, of course, being Back to the Future Part III. :-)

PikeBishop said...

Chamberlain's speech to the mutineers of the 2nd Maine in "Gettysburg."

1. Not only does it clearly define the goals of the war and what we're fighting for, but it also specifies what makes this particular army and this nation so special. "No man born to royalty......here we judge you by who you are not by who your father was." "It's not the land. There's always more land."

Also see Chamberlain's later conversation with Kilrain who escaped Ireland for the American future. "The only aristocracy is the aristocracy of the mind." "I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my Father deserved." "I'm Kilrain, and I damn all gentlemen!"

2. Chamberlain's final point that "We ALL have value" brings me to tears every time. And it is a point that I have tried to remember and keep everyday of my teaching career, and it is tough, believe me. I try to think of Chamberlain when I am dealing with that bitter, resentful, sullen male student or the withdrawn beaten down girl and all the other students I see only 45 minutes a day and who I really don't know what goes on in their lives outside of my class, and I keep trying to reach them.

Tennessee Jed said...

Pike - wonderful choice! I thought he did a great job of delivering those lines, too. Some people criticize the flowery rhetoric, but not only as Chamberlain a professor of rhetoric, people spoke in more flowery cadence in the 19th century

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - I have always been a fan of Mary's.

Tennessee Jed said...

Another moment that just jumped to mind was Ben- Hur when Messala tells Judah he must rat out his fellow Jews. "You are either with me or against me!" Seemed kind of unfair!

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - interestingly, Kevin Smith was asked about doing a sequel after 9/11. He liked the idea of trashing George Bush and doing an apocalypse film, but chickened out because he was afraid of criticizing Muslims and getting a fatwah placed on his head. And, taking any shots at Judaism is a non-starter in Hollywood so no chance for a trilogy.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's what I mean. Not only his amazement, but then he makes his first decision as a prospective American... "then I shall live in Montana." :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. I don't think we necessarily learned something from the films, but I think it's better to say that it woke us up to something we know and it crystallized it and gave us an image or line or moment that brought it home to us.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, That is one of the best moments on film for understanding America and who we really are and what we believe. Fantastic moment! :)

PikeBishop said...

Jed: And Daniels nails it at the end with the slightly embarrassed reference to the rhetoric, "Sorry, I didn't mean to preach."

Man was robbed of a supporting actor nod.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have TOS on DVD. I doubt I'll replace it. The DVD is beautiful enough for me, plus I refuse to support the "improved" (ruined) version and that seemed to be what they are selling mainly now.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

As I've said before, the Blu-Rays include BOTH versions via seamless branching - you simply choose your preferred version from the menu. And considering all the changes and the number of episodes, I believe there's a grand total of only one error in the whole series which is kinda amazing! :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - if I already had the DVD version, I wouldn't consider an upgrade either. I'll assume the telecine was superb, and when played on a progressive scan player up-converting, it no doubt looks terrific. Still, on a large enough screen, resolution does matter, and I can only say what I saw, which was jaw-dropping visually. If I understood correctly, you have the option of viewing with the original effects and original mono soundtrack. So I suspect I will go ahead with the blu-ray version.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I can't disagree and if I didn't have the DVD, I would buy them on BluRay. I'm happy with what I have though. :) Besides, growing up with fading prints on television, I don't know what I'd do with too clean of a cut! LOL!

Tennessee Jed said...

Pike - I concur, although my favorite part was where he says "they say I can shoot you .... well, I'm not going to do that, so you are coming." (the dialogue is just off the top of my head, and may not be completely accurate.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, LOL! Sometimes, I think you must earn a commission! ;-P

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Considering how much money I've spent over the years on Trek stuff, a small reimbursement check from Paramount/CBS would be appreciated!

Tennessee Jed said...

In the early 70's, there was a Star Trek convention at the Ben Franklin Hotel in Philly (more recently featured in Silver Linings Playbook.) Since it was just around the corner from my office, I went one afternoon to check it out. It was fun to see Nichelle Nichols and Jimmy Doohan in person, but what rally grabbed my attention was seeing a master cut of the Horta episode on a big screen ("No Kil I") and ("damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a mason.")

Kenn Christenson said...

Jimmy Malone: "If you walk through this door now, you're walking into a world of trouble. No turning back, you understand?"
It's a short quote - but it perfectly encapsulates the fight against evil - whether it be Al Qaeda, Nazis, socialists/communists - or old scratch, himself. You can't expect those, who do evil to just lay down, once you begin opposing them.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Tell me about it!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have never been to one, but it would be interesting.

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, True! A very clear message. Evil doesn't quit and you can't either. You need to be prepared to keep up the fight once you start.

Anonymous said...

Two spring to mind (both from the 80s funnily enough) and one of them was included in the question.

"Be excellent to each other" - Bill S. Preston Esq.
Which if you think about it is a stoner version of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". While I'm not religious I've tried to live by this, so to hear it echoed in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is pretty cool.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a
while, you could miss it" - Ferris Bueller
John Hughes take on the "stop and smell the roses" quote. As someone that can get a bit to intense or focused of one thing (good or bad) this is
something I have to try and do.

Both are pretty simple ideas and are takes on existing quotes, placed in a then modern movie for kids. Both are pretty deep when you actually think about them.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Great call on both! Both are not only great advice, they are surprisingly deep for how simple they seem. :)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

In an ironic twist -- though the vehicle for the message was illegal (and probably felonious and registerable given today's sex crimes laws) Risky Business' mantra of "Sometimes you gotta say, 'What the f&*k" has sometimes resonated with me -- though in the vein of taking chances and doing things that others might question. Sometimes it matters greatly what others think, but every so often you gotta say "What the F&(k".

Incongruous with my original movie choice perhaps, but Truth can be found sprinkled throughout humanity given its Source. :-)

Kit said...

This is hard.

Batman Begins's statement about justice vs revenge.

Voz said...

PikeBishop stole my idea of Chamberlain's speech to the 2nd Maine...

Loyal Goatherd said...

A lot of good stuff here, dittos to all of it. Three movies come immediately to my mind. They, of course, are all favorites of mine.

1. High Noon (1952): Sometimes a man knows what he has to do, even though everyone else tells him it's wrong. Do not forsake me, oh my darling! Tex Ritter's rendition of the tune really drives home the point. My wife and I vowed to forsake all others, it is implied, therefore, we should not forsake each other. As Grace Kelly breaks with her Quaker beliefs to fulfill her marriage vows, I always tear up.

2. Three Hundred Spartans (1962): This movie is filled with campy dialog, all of which, divorced from the "B" movie schtick, is extremely inspirational. After Leonidas is killed, the Spartans fight to protect his body still (there are his bodyguards after all). But the pitiful remnant surrounded by the Persians are offered their lives in exchange for the king's body. When Pentheus answers, "We stay with our king". Hydarnes replies, "Your position is hopeless, in a few moments you will be dead". Pentheus retorts, "But Greece will live". Goosbumps!

3. Excalibur (1981): "The King and the land are one" When the king thrives, the land will thrive, if he fails the land will fail. So many little Christian homages in the film. "Renounce the king and I will spare your life", says Mordred. Uryens waits not a second, to respond "Never!". When Merlin decides to take out Morgana, he takes her to his cave." Here, all things are possible and all things meet their opposites". Mo: Desire. Me: And regret Mo: Knowledge Me: And Oblivion. Mo: Love? Me: Oh, yes. You have to watch it to see the opposite of love. Because it is not hate, it's not apathy. There is no word for it, but it is brilliantly illustrated for all to see.

When Arthur rides into battle at the end, he stops to forgive Guenevere and to ask for her forgiveness. When she produces the sword for the king, he dared not hope it was in her keeping. If Christians can't pick out the meaning of the bride keeping the sword (of the word) in the groom's absence, and dozens more little symbols, there are babes in Christ, untaught or fools. My Favorite movie! "We have our King, praise be to God!"

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Risky Business has an interesting message that I think is important for people to remember. Obviously, they've overdone it, but you can't always live life according to a schedule.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, What exactly?

AndrewPrice said...

Voz, I didn't think of it, but it was a brilliant answer!

AndrewPrice said...

LG, High Noon has an ironic history as it wasn't intended to be positive, but it really does drive home a truly solid point -- sometimes you need to do what you need to do even when everyone else is afraid and doesn't want you to do it. That's a solid bit of advice to live by! Principle over popularity.

shawn said...

The movie "Gattaca". No line in particular, just the message of the film itself. That we can be more than our DNA , that willpower and determination to succeed are more important in the things we achieve.

Rob S. Rice said...

Excellent, TOUGH question... So many good moments...

SPOILERS!

1) A Man for All Seasons... Almost the whole movie, but the scene so near the end when he realizes that it's judicial murder, not a trial, and so Thomas Moore (Olivier was in awe of Schofield) calmly shreds every last part of the Crown's case and sits down...

2) Midway. I still break down at the image of Torpedo 8 and Waldron going in on that utterly doomed attack... That turned the tide in the Pacific.

3) How to Train Your Dragon... When Hiccup and Toothless both overcome their fear and revulsion, and realize that the other IS a thinking being... and that the only way to end that senseless war was forgiveness and understanding...

Honorable mentions: Flynn cutting off Rapunzel's hair... The Welsh singing back at the Zulus in Zulu... The final battle in In Harm's Way... Oh, that'll do. For now.

MadMup said...

This might sound strange, but the underlying philosophy of Yes Man really did push me to make some changes in how I viewed things. I don't know yet how long-lasting those changes will be, but that silly little Jim Carrey movie helped me out.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, That's a great moral too. We shape our own destinies.

AndrewPrice said...

Rob, It would have been fascinating to talk to the people who were at Roark's Drift. Good call on Midway too. How about Ens. Gay who found himself floating there as the Japanese sank.

AndrewPrice said...

MadMup, Glad to hear it!

Kit said...

This scene from A Man For All Seasons.
LINK

William Roper: "So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!"
Sir Thomas More: "Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"
William Roper: "Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"
Sir Thomas More: "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

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