I’m not sure if it’s a co-incidence that the last three things I saw with my buddy D turned out to be about heroes and what they are made of.
Based on the true story of George Reeves, the guy who played Superman and shot himself, the film examines a very basic question, which incidentally, also turned out to be the starting point for my own That Four Letter Word: What do we want from the rest of our lives?
The guy everybody likes to watch on TV, George (Ben Affleck), does not want to play Superman (“I look like a damned fool,” he says seeing himself in costume, later wondering: “You can’t see my penis, can you?”). He wanted to be a real actor. He would chase this dream to no end. But the big question was: Was he capable of being a great actor?
The guy investigating his death, Simo Louis (a fictional character created by cinematic licence played by Adrian Brody) the guy who watches over people’s lives, wants to be the greatest detective. But the big question was: Was he capable of being a great detective?
We all want to be heroes, don’t we? But were we meant to be? Do we have it in us? How do we know unless we’ve tried? When and where do we stop?
These questions fascinate me. Because, these in many ways, captures our deepest insecurities and fears. With two weeks for release, I keep telling myself: If I don’t turn out to be a decent filmmaker, I’m not quitting till I become one. I’m raring to go with my second.
Anyways, the next film I saw right after Hollywoodland was:
Flags of our Fathers:
This one’s puts heroes under the microscope. Do real heroes see themselves as heroes? What makes them heroes? Did they start out trying to be heroes or did a set of incidents put them on a pedestal?
Clint Eastwood delves deep into the minds of a bunch of unlikely heroes — American soldiers who shot to fame because a photograph of them hoisting a flag in enemy territory made it to the headlines.
Thanks to a picture, people perceived them as heroes but these are guys who’ve been traumatized by the war, seen their friends die and fought hard to stay alive. The fact that they were being celebrated when many of their friends died sudden explosive deaths doesn’t help that trauma.
As the son of one of these heroes later says in the movie:
“I finally came to the conclusion that maybe he was right, maybe there are no such things as heroes, maybe there are just people like my dad. I finally came to understand why they were so uncomfortable being called heroes. Heroes are something we create, something we need. It’s a way for us to understand what is almost incomprehensible, how people could sacrifice so much for us? But for my dad and these men, the risks they took, the wounds they suffered, they did that for their buddies. They may have fought for their country but they died for their friends. For the man in front, for the man beside him, and if we wish to truly honor these men we should remember them the way they really were. The way my dad remembered them. “
I can’t wait to see Eastwood’s take on the Japanese side of the war, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima.’
If ‘Flags of our Fathers’ got two Oscar nominations for the year and ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ has got him four nominations including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay this year. You can imagine my excitement.
I saw the first two movies last night. Tonight, in the middle of my colour correction (yes, I did manage to brighten up a couple of scenes which people found dark in That Four Letter Word), I watched:
It’s a new TV series D downloaded off the net because he heard a lot of good things about it.
After watching the pilot, I’m hooked. It’s super promising if you are a comic book lover and also if you like what the film versions have done with Spidey and X-Men: Exploring the human side of heroes.
The reason for the post is because somewhere in the middle as one of the key characters Mohinder (supposed to be from Madras of all places) tells his class in University of Madras (wearing a suit and all, speaking to sethji type extras):
“Man is a narcissistic species by nature. We have colonized the four corners of our tiny planet. But we are not the pinnacle of so-called evolution. That honor belongs to the lowly cockroach. Capable of living for months without food. Remaining alive headless for weeks at a time. Resistant to radiation. If God has indeed created Himself in His own image, then I submit to you that God is a cockroach. They say that man uses only a tenth of his brain power. Another percent, and we might actually be worthy of God’s image. Unless, of course, that day has already arrived. The Human Genome Project has discovered that tiny variations in man’s genetic code are taking place at increasingly rapid rates. Teleportation, levitation, tissue re-generation. Is this outside the realm of possibility? Or is man entering a new gateway to evolution? Is he finally standing at the threshold to true human potential?”
Soon, we find him getting profound:
“Where does it come from, this quest? This need to solve life’s mysteries, when the simplest of questions can never be answered. Why are we here? What is the soul? Why do we dream? Perhaps we’d be better off not looking at all. Not doubting, not yearning. That’s not human nature. Not the human heart. That is not why we are here.”
And a coupla scenes later, he has this for an answer:
“Some individuals, it is true, are more special. This is natural selection. It begins as a single individual born or hatched like every other member of their species. Anonymous. Seemingly ordinary. Except they’re not. They carry inside them the genetic code that will take their species to the next evolutionary rung. It’s destiny.”
Now, is there anything at all called co-incidence?
Oh, yes, it does seem like one big co-incidence that I’ve been watching movies/TV series about heroes. And, I just remembered that in a few hours from now, I have to go for the press preview of ‘Rocky Balboa’!
To wrap up this post on heroes, their insecurities and the need to keep fighting, I leave you with the punchline from Syl Stallone (from Rocky Balboa):
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”