Two thought provoking movies about life

In the last couple weeks that I’ve spent in the Byron hinterland, I’ve watched two movies that really stir the mind to question our existence and purpose.

Samsara looks at birth, life and death, and is a series of visually captivating and brief videos teamed with beautiful music and no narration, while Cloud Atlas looks at action and consequence, where characters live out different roles and different lifetimes.

I have to admit that I fell asleep momentarily while watching Samsara because the music was so relaxing, and I was a tad tired that afternoon. There was lots of beauty and realities featured, which made me question, “How did humankind get to this point where there is so much inequality and disfunction? Since when was it okay?”. In the work that I do, I already am aware of lots of disfunction for the drive for money and the impacts it causes on society and the environment, but this movie conveys it all in a passive manner, yet it is very confronting. In the movie, there are a lot of activities performed in groups, yet there is also a lot of division.

Cloud Atlas, which was screened in Singapore almost two months ago but has just started screening in Australia, speaks a lot about connectedness; how we are all connected, and how our actions result in consequences that change the future for oneself and others. As usual, the movie can’t always incorporate all the details in the book, and after reading the wikipedia entry on this novel, I’m so interested to get a copy of it, which has never quite happened before. I found the plot so intriguing, that I’m even going to watch it again once it goes to DVD.

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, and Susan Sarandon play various characters, if you can recognise them through their make up. Halle Berry as a Caucasian and especially an Asian was quite mind-blowing, as was Doona Bae as a Caucasian. I didn’t realise till the credits rolled. My favourite character is Tom Hanks as the Irish thug. One has to pay careful attention throughout the movie to get it all.

The theme of karma is also very strong, and there is a lot that is said or not being said if you read between the lines. Spiritual messages ring through the plot. Some resonate more strongly for those who believe in reincarnation. Many spiritual texts, not necessarily religious, say that there is no past or future lives, but that we have parallel lives and each action taken in this lifetime affects the other, which is what seems to be conveyed in the movie.

Each moment, characters have the choice to take a positive or negative action, which results in the ascent or decent of a soul, and this also impacts future generations. Some characters have chosen to stick to a certain archetype throughout their lives, such as a ruthless leader, and they keep doing the same thing over and over throughout all lifetimes, unless they choose to take positive action, and they will break free from the pattern. There is an infographic of the movie and its characters if you care to look for it, it helped me understand the movie better.

Do catch them both if you haven’t already!


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