Top critical review
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Forget The Movie But Definitely Read The Book
on February 10, 2008
I can only imagine that `Socrates' is shaking his head at Dan Millman once again, telling him he just didn't get it after all. I can't begin to say how disappointing the movie is after reading the book, which I just recently did for the first time. But I'm gonna try. Luckily I didn't buy the movie but rented it. I suggest you do the same, if you really have to see it, but first read the book if you haven't to get the true story. Please know I haven't read anything else by Millman at this point and probably won't now.
The movie is nothing about the teachings of a sacred personage paying off a debt but instead focuses on Millman's triumphant recovery from a leg injury he did NOT get from driving like an angry maniac on his motorcycle. In the book, he's speeding yes, but happily, and it's the car driver's fault, not his. One example of way too many that frustratingly deviate from the book. Another good example is that Socrates was laughing all the time, being happy, even to the irritation of Millman (and at times the reader, I have to admit). Nolte never does this at all, however. I questioned the choice of him playing this character and sadly wasn't surprised when he played it like all his other roles, stoical at best. Even in the DVD interviews, Nolte sat and talked about the happiness message of Socrates with a sad old face. Unreal! Like he didn't really believe in it anyway. Or didn't want to admit that he believed it. Disconcerting to say the least.
But there's so much of this movie that wasn't in the book it's made me think maybe there's a lot in the book that was made up too. Millman admits to `creating filler' in order to write a novel but I was under the impression that the mystical events were true and what it was all based on. These experiences have been happening to people for thousands of years. But why write about `out of reality' phenomenon, thereby naming it as plausible, and then basically leaving most of it out of the film? It's as though Millman is discounting these major points of his account by creating a new version that has very little of them in it. The top of the mountain scene was the most disappointing. Then again, not much in the movie led up to this incredible point (in the book), so how could what really happened be added in to the movie at that point? To water it down like they did was obviously the best that could be done with it but oh, oh how disappointing it was.
Another huge frustration, to add in also, is how we're left wondering just who and what this `not from our reality' entity called Socrates really was. It's not in the movie of course but it's not in the book either even though there's a moment where it could've possibly been explained or at least addressed. Socrates said he was paying off a debt through helping one more person realize the true reality of existence but this very important admission flew right past "it's all about me" Millman. Just what did Socrates mean by this??? Why didn't Millman pick up on this really crucial aspect of it all? Maybe that's why Socrates decided to flash away at that moment.
Why Millman chose to use this ego-based, watered down script for the movie is beyond my comprehension. Even in the DVD interview, his basic "Warrior" recommendations were again self-based: daily exercise, balanced diet and lots of rest. Sad, sad, sad and something Socrates would've snorted at. Nothing about meditation either here or in the movie whatsoever but a HUGE part of the training he did. Or how about the importance of `paying attention to every moment both inside and out'? Or `being of service to others is the basic active task of being a warrior?? Or `choose to feel happy most of all because it just doesn't matter'??? What about those recommendations to living the life of a warrior? He actually sat there and 'humbly' admitted what a schmuck he still was, as though going through an experience like this, which took years and years, really wasn't that big of a deal in the long run. I seriously can't hear Socrates ever saying anything like that - he knew himself and was honest about being a warrior. But boy, if you can make a movie about getting such a gift even though it's not even close to the true experience of it all, then by all means go for it!
What a waste, Dan. You should be ashamed of yourself. Where's your active warrior courage to make a movie exactly like what happened to you? Those threatened by the power of it would of course try to discount it as they always do but I think you'd be surprised by how many in the world today would be far more accepting -and so then enlightened - of a true visual account of what you were given, what really happened to you. With primo special effects these days, it should be a `peace' of cake. Did you feel Socrates with you as you made this movie? I'm thinking not. Take the money you make off this poor replica of your so-called 'true' experience (I'm having my doubts now) and what you learned and now use it to create the real story IF IT REALLY WAS TRUE like you claim it to be. It would be without doubt the most important challenge - and the one most serving to others - of your life. Socrates' main message!!!