Sunday, April 20, 2014

Smiley Watches the Film Hero

Four years ago I wrote about watching the film Hero.

Smiley is now old enough to need this film.  The more I watch it the more I enjoy it.

During our walk home from school, I started a discussion with Smiley.
Me: I got a new movie from the library that you will like.  But first you have to answer a question.

Smiley: Okay.

Me: You do lots of different kinds of fighting.  You learn jiu-jitsu at the dojo.  In the back yard you play with boffer swords.  In the playroom when Kiki visited you ran around pretending to shoot fire at each other.  Why do you like fighting?

Smiley: Because it is fun.

Me: What makes it fun?

Smiley: Because it is nice.

Me: What makes it nice?  Is it the same nice for the jiu-jitsu and the boffer swords and the pretending to shoot fire?

Smiley: I do not know.

Me: You can watch a little of the movie.  When you have more answers you can watch more.
Later he added:
Smiley:  Because it is challenging.
My goal with the conversation is for him to find in his own life the lessons the film teaches about being a warrior.  Then the film will help confirm something personal, rather than introduce new ideas.

The dojo tries to teach the same lessons the film does.  The instructors, Adam and Terry, spend time talking about how act when threatened by a bully.  Thankfully, Smiley has never been bullied and so far all of this is for him abstract theory.

Eventually I hope through discussion to lead Smiley to notice in his life the progression:

1. I gain self-discipline by practicing fighting when alone.
2. I gain confidence by practicing fighting with friends.
3. I gain pride by knowing I could defend myself from a bully if I needed to.
4. I gain peace by not needing to think or worry about bullies.

That evolution should be why boys like fighting.

This roughly fits the English version of what the king learns in the film.

"I have just come to a realization! This scroll by Broken Sword contains no secrets of his swordsmanship. What this reveals is his highest ideal. In the first state, man and sword become one and each other. Here, even a blade of grass can be used as a lethal weapon. In the next stage, the sword resides not in the hand but in the heart. Even without a weapon, the warrior can slay his enemy from a hundred paces. But the ultimate ideal is when the sword disappears altogether. The warrior embraces all around him. The desire to kill no longer exists. Only peace remains."
Tangentially, the Chinese is reported to be quite different.
"There is no wonder you didn’t understand! This character that Broken Sword wrote has nothing to do with his swordsmanship. He wrote it with his heart! I am not as good as Broken Sword, and neither are you! Broken Sword has foreseen the trend and the future. He is telling you, by advising you to think of tian xia (all people), that it is destined for Qin to conquer the other six nations. Life or death of any individuals will never change the course of history. So it is up to you if you want to kill me. But whether or not you do, the fate of tian xia (the world) will not be altered because tian xia (the public) will get what it wants and deserves once the trend of history has been determined."

The film also comments on what an ideal hero is like.

The hero should be strong yet flexible mentally.  A hero is loyal to his or her beliefs, true to his or her promises, skilled at negotiating, and eager to learn new understandings.

The hero should also be strong yet flexible physically.  A hero is brave, full of energy, and passionate about art.  The hero can use fighting for self-protection, demonstrations of self-mastery, accomplishing a goal, or expressing deep emotion.  The hero does not fight unless challenged, and is able to fight without hurting his opponents.

Smiley is not yet old enough to understand all of those lessons.  The Hero film will be useful again in later years.

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