Sparing the Rod
I was reading a personal ad earlier by a young man looking for a partner…
I had a day recently where I just decided to shut down and turn off. I hadn’t been getting much sleep and had been working REALLY hard, not a lot of runs, but lots of time to do what was happening. I took a walk in the morning and started feeling tired, the past week or so catching up, so I went home and started watching some DVDs.
I have several friends that used to call me the “Hollywood Guru” in that I would use scenes from films as examples when trying to explain difficult spiritual or philosophical concepts. People seemed to get annoyed with me over that so I stopped doing it (though I don’t remember making a conscious decision about it).
For whatever reason, I started watching the “Matrix Trilogy” and after a while I started to think about how much people loved the first film and how many hated the sequels. I happened to love the sequels myself, but I also like films that you have to think about.
I noticed quite some time ago, that people seem to really like messiah stories, some character finds out they have a destiny to save the world or make a substantial impact on the world around them. Not really surprising in that I think on a certain level, we all kind of wish we were that special individual. What did surprise me about it though was that I noticed that while people seem to be attracted to messiah stories, they seem to shy away from the continuation of them; it’s great to be a messiah and save the world, but then go crawl under a rock, we don’t want to see the day to day life afterwards.
The Matrix Trilogy starts off in the first film with “Neo” being dissatisfied with his life and as Morpheus later says, “You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.” This is fairly standard for the messiah character in that, consciously or unconsciously, part of the character is aware of their difference.
People usually seem to enjoy the part where the character searches for whatever his/her truth might be and in the climax, the messiah blossoms and fulfills their destiny, the audience is happy and usually the film or book is over. But what happens in the sequel or with authors who wish to show more? For as Morpheus says later, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions were entertaining and interesting war stories, but most of the people that I have spoke to about it missed that sense of mystery they got from Neo’s self-discovery in the first film. Many actually didn’t like the character of Neo, especially in the climax of Revolutions.
This is an excellent example of people wanting to see the creation of the messiah, but are not really interested in the daily existence and experience of being that messiah after the initial discovery.
Another good example, Franco Zeffirelli’s “Brother Sun Sister Moon“. Many people don’t really care for it and yet I found it to be amazing. I have always thought that it was due to the fact that the majority of the film is an exploration of Francesco’s day to day life after his spiritual experience. When I have read bios on St. Francis, they are usually either fixated on his Stigmata or miracles that are attributed to him, but the daily life as the person who was having these experiences is not really delved into.
Even films that deal with Jesus, the popular ones at least, usually represent Jesus as a growing person who has his Messiah experience on the cross and during the resurrection where they usually end (albeit the Gospels end fairly quickly afterwards). The films that present Jesus as this otherworldly person throughout tend to be dull and not reachable by the masses. This doesn’t mean they are bad films, some of them are amazing, but the contact with the viewers doesn’t seem to come across.
OK, the film commentary is done (for now at least) and we can go on to something else (like my job).