Sunday, November 25, 2007

Questioning The Thoughts Of Fear And Courage

Last Friday, I was housesitting for my sister and got to enjoy all of the wonders of their high definition television. Two of the cool channels that they have are the HD feeds for HBO and Showtime which meant that I got enjoy movies in a mighty nice definition indeed. Even the crappy movies can be watched when they look that good.

I stumbled into watching ERAGON on Friday afternoon and thought it was an okay fantasy type movie though it's not something that I'll be running out to buy on DVD. It played like a standard sword and sorcery film though there were a bunch of odd nods to other films and books that seemed more of ripping off than paying homage. It'll work as a good weekend afternoon matinee kind of thing.

There was a line of dialogue that left me kind of confused. This confusion came more from my own mind than any content errors on the part of the filmmakers. On the verge of the big finale battle, the lead character and his dragon were talking while doing final preparation. When the hero said that he was frightened of what could happen, the dragon's reply was that there can be no courage without fear.

In the framework of the film, this line worked fine and it was a nice way to show how conquering your fears can be a good thing. It took about a minute for me to think about a line from a different film that seemed to contradict the one in ERAGON. The movie in question is STAR WARS: EPISODE I and it comes out of the mouth of the character that most everyone thinks is the biggest brain of the Jedi - Yoda.

While the Jedi Council are evaluating Anakin for whether or not he can be trained, Yoda has an interesting reaction to Anakin stating that he's scared. Yoda tells Anakin, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." From the way that Yoda sounds, it seems like the Jedi are under the belief that the specific emotion is linked to the dark side as a cause and effect relationship and you have to avoid it at all costs.

A Jedi seems to be set up as the equivalent of a monk in the world that they live in. A Jedi is required to divest themselves of all emotions and simply follow the Force and not deviate from the programming. Your whole existence as a person is to serve the group and not let your emotional mind take over and play into your reactions.

For me personally, this idea of monastic existence would be a bad idea for a group of people that spend a lot of their time helping to protect the universe from evil. Emotional connections with the people around you would be of a help in times of great stress or hinderance because you wouldn't give up on what you're trying to do. Those emotions can be a great help to move someone into the hero that they can be.

It might not be the best fantasy film of all time, I do think that ERAGON has the correct idea when it comes to the idea of using fear to give someone courage in a stressful situation. Letting a person's emotions have all control over their actions can definately be a bad thing but you lose a lot of your power when you have to divest yourself of emotions entirely. Focus your emotions the right way and it can help to lead you to be the hero that you can be.


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