Continuing last post’s discussion with a movie example. Recently there was a quite successful opening of „Prisoners“. Combining both psychological and philosophical breakdowns, it’s a good movie to get a sense of how people act in serious traumatic situations. Distrust and disbelief, anger and submission – a true mix of emotions that go through a human’s body.
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult situation to handle for a parent than a situation, where a young child goes missing. what are you supposed to do? Not only in the sense of what the society expects from you, but also in a personal meaning. What should you do inside your mind? A person frequently doesn’t know how he should feel in some situations(what others expect them to think). Should I be mourning, or if you’re not, then why and is it right not to? The questions pile up and the person is left in a gaping hole. Traumatized and paralysed, not able to think clearly. That may be the point where questioning your own morals starts to happen. Because you are a lost emotionally, you start overruling your philosophies also.
Hugh Jackman, playing the family man Keller, made a very good remark on the subject: „ People don’t behave politely under these extremes. People don’t behave as though they care what anyone else thinks. Behaviour becomes elemental, guttural. Whether they fall down and collapse, or get violent and angry, or disillusioned . . . whatever it is, it’s honest. It’s what they need to do at the time just to get through it.”
I have talked about my interest in primal actions before.* I was wandering what a person might do, when the glass between him and the tiger suddenly disappears. That situation of lost glass becomes a metaphor for the scenario of “Prisoners”. The idyllic life is no more, the emotionally safe life has been ruptured, leaving the family in a state where they stop functioning as they have until now.
The director, Jack Villeneuve, said his inspiration for the movie was the feeling of misplacing something trivial as your car keys or phone: “The slight panic you feel when you reach for something where you knew it was, and it’s not there anymore.” Even when the occurrence has so little effect on the flow of everyday life, it still feels unpleasant. You start to question yourself and your memories, your everyday actions and routine. In a very small scale you lose control. And it doesn’t feel good at all.
In the movie, Keller has a primal need to protect his family. We are urged to trust the others and let society take care of the situation. But Keller doesn’t trust society to take care of things. Is he to blame for the urge? To trust in a higher power is to give away control in your own life. A very challenging dilemma. And furthermore, if you decide not to give away control, then to what extent should you intervene?
Jake Gyllenhaal, playing the detective Loki, who represents the law abiding way, says: „I think that someone who impulsively takes matters into his own hands is frequently going to suffer for it. Keller is trapped in his animal instinct, he’s following his gut, and it’s leading him down a very bad path. Loki is just watching and waiting to see where it goes.“ A philosophy that follows also recently discussed ways of “Foundation” teachings.**
Keller does not ask questions, he rushes to conclusions. The danger of not thinking – it may lead to the right outcome, but has very big risks. Following the way the human mind is programmed, but doing that in a very dangerous situation, not in an everyday happening, where you have a large quantity of samples. He is doing everything right in his own mind and ultimately, his actions are forgiven even by the viewer, but nevertheless, he is treading a dangerous ground of letting emotions and blinding feral urge take over.
A quite possibly the most interesting characters philosophically are the parents of the other girl. They are in submission, leaving all morals behind, only feeling they exist, but not strong enough to follow them on their own. In this situation of feeling lost in emotions and philosophically unstable, they cling to the alpha male. They feel like something is wrong, but if they submit and let Keller do what he does, then it becomes acceptable to them. The torture is not right, but at least they are not doing it. Walking on the neutral ground and not making decisions at all. Only deciding that ignorance is bliss.
And why I liked the film and suggest you to see it is the mindset of the movie. All characters go down a different path and the movie is an examination of the same crisis from many different points of view. There are very many paths to choose from and it’s hard to find the right one. Just as the mission of this blog – there is no right answers, only a question and sometimes even that is unclear:)
Oh, and the movie is not for the fainthearted:)