So big day today for me. Firstly it is my darling wife’s birthday (happy birthday baby) and secondly this post, the one that you are reading right now, is my 100th post! Cue the fireworks and happy dancing.
Now I spent some time mulling over how to celebrate this milestone and finally decided on a top 10 films and what I learned from them. Now these are not ALL my favorite movies – that list is as long as Rip Van Winkle’s beard – but just a sampling of those that impacted me in one way or another.
Without any further ado or adon’ts, and a SPOILER ALERT in full effect, here are Top 10 lessons from 10 of my favorite films:
#1 Braveheart – Some causes are worth dying for
This movie is not the most historically accurate – the kilts are about four centuries too early for example – but the tale of William Wallace and his Scottish rebellion is a soul stirring piece of cinema. Mel Gibson portrays a character so dedicated to his cause that it is difficult not to be inspired by him to fight and even die for what you believe in. And the first time I heard him shout “Freedom” before being beheaded I literally shook inside.
#2 The Godfather Part II – Blood can hurt you the most
Though I am more a fan of the first Godfather it is the scene in the sequel where Michael Corleone confronts his brother Fredo over the latter’s betrayal that had the most lasting impact on me. An extremely powerful scene and a sobering reminder that even your closest family can stab you in the back.
#3 Misery – Play dead to catch corbeaux alive
There is a saying in Trinidad and Tobago, where your beloved blogger is from, that you should “play dead to catch corbeaux (a black vulture) alive” or remain passive or appear foolish to overcome your captor or enemy. In Misery, a faithful adaptation of an eponymous Stephen King novel, James Caan’s injured author Paul Sheldon bides his time and plays along with his psychotic fan Kathy Wilkes (Kathy Bates in an Oscar-winning performance). A lesson for life to choose the timing of your battles and not to show all your cards up front.
#4 The Wedding Singer – The little things count
This hilarious and sweet romantic comedy, and IMHO Adam Sandler’s best work, includes a scene where the two leads discuss the importance of the little things in a relationship like giving a significant other the window seat on a flight. In relationships we tend to focus on big gestures and grandiose issues when it is really all the little things which show whether a person truly cares or not.
#5 Psycho – We all go a little mad sometimes
One of my favorite movies from one my favorite directors – the late Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho is a masterpiece of a thriller. A line by the psychopathic Norman Bates “we all go a little mad sometimes” is some terrific foreshadowing but is also a lesson that the most ostensibly stable and sturdy of personalities can be brought down by the issues of life. And it is important not to feel too bad about ourselves when have an off day. Though if the off day extends into weeks, months or years you should seek out some help. Serious talk.
#6 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Never give up despite the odds
When an army of 10,000 fearsome Uruk Hai are bearing down on your small fighting force what do you do? What do you do?
Do you give into despair or run for your lives? No, you fight to the last man. And if you fight long and hard enough things will get better, like some helpful elves or a wizard with reinforcements, and you can prevail. There is a similar message in the horror film The Mist but it is not of my favorite movies so it could not make this list.
#7 Unforgiven – Fear is a powerful weapon
This lesson is gleaned from the climax of this brilliant western. After bounty hunter William Munny (Clint Eastwood) has killed wicked sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) in a saloon he is faced with an entire town of trigger happy men waiting outside to plug him full of lead.
So what does he do? He tells them that any man who shoots at him he will hunt them down and not only kill them but wipe out their entire families. He basically puts the fear of God into them and is able to leave unscathed. There is nothing more crippling than fear even in spite of the facts.
#8 The Shawshank Redemption – Hope is a powerful tool
There is nothing like prison to suck the hope out of a man and toss him into an endless pit of despair. But wrongly convicted inmate Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) never gives up and spends years chipping away to freedom. A stirring reminder that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel – literally in Andy’s case – even if you have to crawl through miles of filth to get there. As the kitty on the poster says – “hang in there baby”.
#9 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Do or do not, there is no try
The zenith of the seven film franchise one of the best parts of The Empire Strikes Back is the training scenes between Luke Skywalker and backwards talking Jedi Master Yoda. One of his best pieces of advice is “do or do not, there is no try” and that has always stuck with me. In life if you are doing something and you have an attitude of failure, disbelief or ambivalence then it is more than likely you will fail. If you are doing something then believe that you will accomplish it. It is not a guarantee you will succeed but a positive attitude is always a great advantage.
#10 It’s a Wonderful Life – Life is all about perspective
I have watched Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas for as long as I can remember. The timeless classic is always funny, charming, touching and inspirational. It is the story of a man who contemplates suicide but realises how many wonderful things he has in life after an angel shows him what life would be like without him.
This is the most important lesson I have learned from any movie – your quality of life is not determined by your circumstances but how you view and respond to these circumstances. The old “I cried because I had no shoes and then I saw a man with no feet”. We can spend our lives being stressed out about what we do not have or we can spend our lives enjoying and being thankful for what we do have. And in the end it is not wealth nor material things but the lives we touch and the lives that touch us that truly matters.
So what movie taught you an important life lesson? Feel free to share below.
For the top 10 funny moments from one of my favorite comedies Spaceballs you can click here and for my ranking of Jim Carrey 90s comedies you can click here. And for more inspirational movie posts you can subscribe via email or follow me on Twitter @suprememango012.
Julien is outie like a navel. l8rs