Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Angelina Jolie's Unbroken & the Practice Of Individualism

You have probably seen this image, but might not know who Louis Zamperini is; he is definitely worth knowing. Mr. Zamperini recently passed away at the age of 97, but not before the Coen Brothers and Ms. Jolie was able to turn his miraculous story into a beautiful film so we can all share in his tremendous journey, and what better time than now for that to happen.
It's not that this is the stuff dreams are made of, this is the stuff Americans are made of. In her second directed film, Angelina Jolie used her talents to tell the truly remarkable story of Louis Zamperini, which was adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, Raising Arizona, Inside Llewyn Davis). It's as if this was one more way he could serve his country and fellow American:
There are three examples of individuality that I would like to explore as presented in this brief trailer, but first let's understand why this is an important topic. As I am (FINALLY!!!) nearly done with the post for Guardians Of the Galaxy, one of the themes that film takes up is "false individuality," when Rocket the Raccoon tells Peter Quill, "Ain't no other creature like me, except me," that's not a statement of individuality, that just because there are no other genetically modified raccoons, that means he is an individual. Just because Groot can only say, "I am Groot," doesn't mean that he isn't an individual. Why is this an important topic? Because the expression of individuality is one of the means, the weapons, by which pro-capitalist films like Guardians Of the Galaxy has targeted pro-socialist films.
Louis, in real life, was getting beat-up by kids at school; after his father taught him how to box, Louis got so good at beating up other kids, he started getting in trouble for being a bully, until his brother Peter introduced him to the track team and got Louis to commit to running and training. This is an example of the "light" over taking the "darkness," and how one choice, one decision we make, can change our lives. Arguably, it wouldn't have happened had his brother Peter not stepped in and taken an interest in his brother's life-journey (which happens with siblings). Because Peter built up his brother, and use his own free will to teach Louis how to better use his free will, not only was Louis saved, but everyone that Louis saved was saved by Peter's help. When we choose to use our free will for those who need it the most, we have not only built them up, but built ourselves up as well. 
The first example of individualism the film presents us with is Louis' running. As a metaphor, we can say that, at this time in Louis' life, when he was getting into trouble (he was beating up other kids in school, smoking and drinking) he turns from the darkness in his soul, and begins to "run the good race," as he commended by Saint Paul. Louis was given a gift for running: beating up kids and his other bad habits kept him from being able to run; once he devoted himself to running, he gave up all the other things so he could nurture and develop his talent, which led him to the Olympics, held in Berlin that year.
Louis, at the Berlin Olympics, was introduced to Hitler personally because he had such a fast race. Later during the Olympics, Louis climbed the flagpole and stole Hitler's personal flag. I don't know if that part will be in the movie or not, however, it certainly reveals that Louis was against socialism and what the Nazis were all about, and knowing that the Olympics will be in the film, as attested by the image above, we can be sure that this will be an anti-socialist film.
The second way individuality is expressed and fulfilled, is through Louis' enrollment in the Air Force. When we give ourselves, we fulfill ourselves. Louis enrolling to serve his country and defend freedom during World War II was not just a mass movement of patriotism, it was necessary for his soul's development and the extending of his individuality: as T.S. Eliot said, you never know how tall you are until you wade into the flood. No one in their right mind would get involved in a war, but those who know themselves, those who have confidence in themselves, those who love the world and those in it, those who love themselves the way each person should love themselves, those are the very best people, because they have found their way to the very best in their souls, which we all possess, and because of this inner-journey they have made, they can give it all up for something greater than themselves; but why do it? Because greatness knows no limits, and when a person has started out on that path of greatness, like Louis, Greatness will not let him rest, but keep him going all his days, which leads us to the third testimony of individualism,....
Louis and 2 others from his plane were adrift 47 days before reaching the Marshall Islands where they were taken to the Japanese POW camp; one other American who was with him died after 33 days on the sea. 
Louis finally learned how to forgive his captors.
Having finally come to God, long after the war, when Louis had made so many pleas and prayers to God if God would save him, God saved Louis a second time, this time, God saved Louis' soul from the pit of hating his captors and those who had tormented him during his imprisonment. Why does forgiving a wrong that someone else has committed against us make us individuals? Because it is then that we most closely resemble God. Be like your Father in Heaven, Jesus told us, and how do we, sinful mortals, accomplish that? By forgiving what others have done to us. Because we are created in God's image, when we make an act of love, an act of forgiveness, the image of God more clearly shows within us; when we resemble God, the uniqueness He endowed us with at the moment of our creation shines through with glorious light, and that light overcomes the darkness, in ourselves, and in others.
What does it mean to be "unbroken?" Each of us probably has our own idea, but for me, I think it's not allowing belief in the glory of my soul to be broken by the drudgery of life, the hardships and trials. For someone else, it might be something completely different, their will to live and survive, for example, and we can certainly see that on a political and historical level right now with America: do we have the will to survive, or is Obama "breaking" us, not just financially, but morally and mentally as well, or will we survive in spite of what he throws at us?
Lastly, Louis has shared his story, which isn't to raise himself up, because he has achieved his destiny (he has fulfilled his soul's capacity for virtue and love, so that he can then become an instrument for the good of others) and the last step is to help others achieve their destiny as well, by inspiration and compassion. When someone has been through so much, they don't look down on their neighbors because of what they haven't been through, rather, they look for those that are in need of help, and try to encourage them to "run the good race" and overcome the obstacles holding them back. You cannot give something to someone else unless you have first received it yourself, so the giving of courage and hope to others is the final step of one's own journey, because you can't build up others, unless you have been built up yourself.
So, as pro-socialist films continue to come out, mocking individualism as something that exists only in the clothes we wear or foods we eat, let us remember, socialists don't believe in the existence of the soul, so they can't believe in genuine individuality, or that each of us has a particular and unique destiny which we must use our free will to choose every second of our lives (socialists also don't believe in free will). Likewise, as pro-capitalist films continue to come out, let's remember some of these highlights so we can appreciate--not only that which others have done--but that which we, too, are called upon to accomplish. Unbroken will be released in theaters December 25.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner