Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Man On Wire

If you have strong nerves, do not miss the movie Man On Wire, the story of Philippe Petit who walked on a wire between the Twin Towers. It is a story of passion; a story about living on the edge, beyond the rules of what cannot be done. Petit found freedom and safety where no other human walked before and where no human will ever walk again – on a wire in the clouds.

The greater fascination is not the extreme stunt or the world fame – it is the process, the developmental journey of mastering his skill and competence. The uncompromising concentration and total commitment to his art form. And how that fashioned in him a different gravitational pull,  allowing him to literally walk on a cloud.

One more thing. Better not watch this before you go to sleep. It takes a few hours to unwind the state it will produce in you.

Amazing Grace

We are inspired by the people that rise to serve a cause. They etch their devotion on history and leave an indelible impression of their courage for those that follow.

We just watched two movies that captured the essence of The Enlightenment and the wave that transformed the world in the 18th century.  It is still very possible that the 21st century will also be a new age of ‘enlightenment’. As we go forward in our time, it is instructive to appreciate the struggles of the 18th century – to be inspired by the spirit that moved these men.

The fascination for me in watching the events unfold in these two movies is studying the point of engagement – the anatomy of the moment of decision, the point at which destiny is set.

Thomas Jefferson, a Movie by Ken Burns follows the story of a Founding Father, the third President of the United States. And the principal author of the Declaration of Independence who etched into history the immortal words about the equality of men being a self evident truth and the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that are endowed by the Creator, but he did not free his own slaves.

We see Jefferson negotiating one crossroads after another. He must endure the crossroads of serving the American Cause, being away from his family and bearing tremendous loss and grief. He is torn between the crossroads of the head and the heart, and the crossroad of the life of public service and then his retreat into the study of science. He embodies the spirit and struggle of America and of the age of Enlightenment.

The second movie, Amazing Grace recounts the story of William Wilberforce who led the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire and its colonies.

Wilberforce stands at his own crossroads. He too is called in two directions, into a life of solitude and into the life of public service. At this ‘moment of truth’, a decision is made and a destiny is fashioned.  The story of Amazing Grace is a story of being lost and then being found; of people being blind and then seeing.

These two men teach us about courage, about peering into the future and about seeing what must be done here and now. They encourage us to embrace these simple Jeffersonian words: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past” and to find the cause of our own time.

© Aviv Shahar

The Lives Of Others

The best movies tell stories of transformation. Years ago I was captivated by The Last Emperor. The inner journey of a man who had been born into one reality, that of being brought up in the Forbidden City to be the next Emperor, and his gradual transformation as reality changes and he becomes a prisoner. We see him at the end of the movie as a peaceful gardener. The outer changes act as a reflection of the inner transformation. You are left wondering about the capability of the human psyche to undergo such a dramatic change and our ability to accept new paradigms.
The Grand Canyon is another movie that tells a transformational story. In the Grand Canyon it’s the special moments of extraordinary meetings of the characters between seemingly random events that are the catalysts of transformation. The movie brings to the foreground the mystery of destiny determined in a moment. One moment, one connection, one sound can change the million moments that follow it depending upon our response. You are left with a clear sense that every fork in the road, however transitory, led you in actuality to arrive at this point in time.

Last night we watched The Lives Of Others. It tells the story of the GDR (The German Democratic Republic of East Germany) before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The main character is a strict Stasi (State Security) Captain who follows the Socialist line with unwavering commitment until one day he begins to crack. The metaphoric moment in the movie when one “beam of light” enters his closed mind is symbolized in a short exchange with an innocent child. What comes through the cracks are human feelings and later, art, beauty, love and the courage to protect these things from the oppressive party. The transformation is from the forced and inhumane conscience of the party to his own true human conscience.

People are products of the systems they operate in, and yet the eternal heroic human story is the one where courage triumphs over the institution. Part of the delight of remembering movies is the feelings that run through us when we remember a particularly touching moment on the screen. In The Last Emperor, the contrast between the incredible beauty of the surroundings and the turmoil of the young man as he discovers life outside the walls of the Forbidden City puts us in his place. In The Grand Canyon, total strangers are bound by a passion for meaning to escape the alienation of life without purpose in a large and impersonal modern day city, we long with them to find something better. The Lives of Others shows one man’s triumph over an oppressive faceless system to light a fire of hope within us and we leave the theater with the knowing that transformation is not only possible it is essential.

© Aviv Shahar

Knights Of The South Bronx

“Knights of the South Bronx” is a transformational story. In every transformational journey there is this first step when someone makes a move. It’s the moment of stepping into the unknown to accept guidance. In the movie Knights of the South Bronx this moment takes place in the park when Jimmie, whose young life is on the precipice, steps up to the chess board to arrange the pieces even though he does not know how to play the game. He is saying: I want to learn, I want to play the game. Will you teach me master?
Here are a few of the inspirational teachings of the movie:
Teaching One: “The world you are ruling is in your head. Everything starts with how you think.”
Teaching Two: “Imagine!”
Teaching Three: “It’s not about what you have. It’s about the game you play.”
Teaching Four: “A loss is nothing but an opportunity – an opportunity to get better and to learn something new.”
Teaching Five: “You are going to have to find your Ninja, your secret worrier, the one that lives inside your heart. You have to look inside you at that thing that scares you, because inside what scares you is what saves you every time. Find it, have it, let it teach you how to play.”
Teaching Six: “When you get angry, people play you out of a position.”
Teaching Seven: “Some days you wake up just knowing something wonderful will happen. Most of the time it doesn’t, but when it does, it does for real.”

© Aviv Shahar

Iris: We Move Towards What Is Good

The movie Iris about the life of Iris Murdoch, played by Judi Dench and Kate Winslet, portrays the extraordinary journey of Iris from a vivacious young woman to a highly admired author and her descent into the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some words spoken by Iris in the movie: “Every human soul has seen, perhaps even before their birth, pure forms such as justice, temperance, beauty and all the great moral qualities which we hold in honor. We are moved towards what is good by the faint memory of these forms, simple and calm and blessed which we saw once in a pure clear light form, being pure ourselves”

Iris captures in this paragraph three eternal truths:

First, that consciousness exists independently of the flesh, in that the spirit was before and will be after the appearance in flesh.

Second, that qualities fashion an energetic form, so that whenever a human anywhere awakens to justice, care, courage, and compassion, their individual experience may be uniquely personal but the pattern and the energetic signature or form is recognizably the same. When you or I embody and become these or any other qualities we fashion a fractal of the universal pattern of that quality.

Third, that the human story consists of the journey of a spirit/soul compound coming into the flesh to experience, feel, discover and make choices and thereby refine and fashion the inner formation into an indestructible gem, a gem that makes a value added return to life itself, to consciousness and to the evolutionary process.

© Aviv Shahar

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