What do all these movies have in common – bet you wouldn’t guess it was a Confucius connection.
On September 28, 551 BCE, legendary Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher Kong Qui , better known to the world as Confucius, was born in Qufu, Shandong Province. Confucius’ teachings, primarily focused on educational standards and family values, forever changed society. In honor of Confucius birthday, DMG Entertainments highlights films which include some of Confucius’ most profound lessons.
BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
After a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) witnessed the brutal murder of his parents, he moves to Asia and joins a vigilante group called, “The League of Shadows”. After defeating his mentor, Bruce returns to Gotham City and runs his family’s enterprise. Using his immense wealth and Wayne Enterprise’s technology department, Bruce creates Gotham’s savior: Batman. But as Batman cleans up the streets of Gotham, it gets messy and each victory brings new challenges.
Confucius Connection: Throughout the film, Wayne Manor caretaker Alfred Pennyworth would remind a discouraged Bruce, “Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” A line which clearly echoes - “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
THE HURT LOCKER (2008)
In Baghdad, Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) takes command of a military bomb disposal unit after the team’s previous leader died in action. Although James is an excellent bomb disposal specialist, his disregard towards safety regulations and thrill-seeking behavior causes conflict within the team. While James’ bomb disposal team only wishes to survive their tour in Baghdad, James chases the adrenaline rush of a dangerous assignment.
Confucius Connection: While some work to live, others live to work. In THE HURT LOCKER, Sgt. James lives to work. Despite the high level of danger involved with disarming bombs, James loves any opportunity to put himself in harm’s way. Some may call him crazy, but James’ enthusiasm for his profession makes him the perfect embodiment of the Confucian saying, “Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
After the theft of a Rembrandt painting, insurance investigator Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) tracks down art thief Robert MacDougal (Sean Connery). Baker decides to set up MacDougal by proposing to team up with MacDougal and steal an ancient Chinese artifact. As the couple prepare their high stake robbery, MacDougal and Baker find themselves wondering who is deceiving who?
Confucius Connection: When Baker and MacDougal reach a high security vault, the couple must crack the security code. Baker quickly realizes the vault’s security code was one of the Master’s best known quotes, “Do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito”.
HIGH NOON (1952)
On the day of Marshall Will Kane’s (Gary Cooper) wedding, Kane hears the vicious criminal Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) has just been released from prison. Miller, who Kane sent to jail, is returning to town on the noon train to kill Kane with his thug posse. Although Kane planned to leave town with his newly married wife, he changes his mind and decides to face Miller. Kane tries to recruit a posse of deputies to help him, however the townsfolks refuse to help. Kane finds himself alone, waiting for the showdown of all showdowns.
Confucius Connection: Although the town abandoned Kane, he remained committed to keeping the community safe. While others were quick to announce their courage, Kane quietly faced Miller and his gang alone. The townspeople used every excuse to convince Kane to leave, but Kane said very little, he would speak through his actions. The American Film Institute ranked Will Kane as the fifth greatest movie hero of all time, so who better to symbolize the spirit of, “The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions”.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)
After Black Monday, Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) recruits a handful of friends and establishes their own brokerage firm. Through questionable business practices, Belfort’s firm quickly becomes successful. As Belfort rises to fame, he finds himself struggling to maintain the image of success and falls into a whirlwind of drugs, sex and corruption.
Confucius Connection: Everyone wants success, however Belfort let success go to his head. From lavish parties to expensive houses, Belfort was never satisfied. Although Belfort had enough money to last him several lifetimes, he continued to chase after success, eventually finding himself in ruin. Belfort’s rise and fall is a great example of, “To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short”.
THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)
In Victorian London, Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) goes to a circus and finds a severely deformed man named John Merrick (John Hurt) performing as a side-show freak. Although some believed Merrick was a mute, Treves discovers Merrick is a well-spoken and educated man with a horribly disfiguring disease. Treves decides to rescue Merrick from the freak show and attempts to introduce Merrick to London society. But is society ready to embrace Merrick, despite his physical deformities?
Confucius Connection: It is difficult to remember beauty isn’t skin deep. Every day we’re surrounded by television shows, movies and ads that tell us what is beautiful and how to achieve. However, Merrick proves beauty goes beyond looks. Although Merrick’s appearance horrified strangers, his kindness and courage inspired those closest to him. Merrick’s sad yet profound life exemplifies, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”.
Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) had one dream in life: Play football for Notre Dame. However, Rudy’s short stature and low grades kept him from chasing after his dream. After Rudy loses his friend in a tragic accident, he decides to pursue his lifelong goal, so he quits his job and goes through a series of physical and academic challenges to make the Fighting Irish football team.
Confucius Connection: Rudy’s only goal was to wear a Fighting Irish jersey, and he didn’t care how long it would take him. Although Rudy encountered significantly better athletes on a daily basis, he refused to get discouraged by their success. Rudy did whatever was necessary, regardless of how many people said it couldn’t be done. Rudy’s real-life and cinematic singlemindedness vividly represents the Confucian belief, “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop”.
TRAINING DAY (2001)
Newly recruited LAPD officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) starts his first day on the job with highly decorated detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). As Harris shows Hoyt the daily life of a narcotics officer, Hoyt witnesses Harris’ brutal and questionable law enforcement tactics. Hoyt quickly begins to question what is he really learning from his training officer as Harris’ action raise too many ethical dilemmas.
Confucius Connection: Voted American Film Institute’s 50th greatest villain of all time, Alonzo Harris is a great choice to reflect wickedness. Despite Hoyt’s proper and honest background, Harris’ hard-hitting personality and charisma was magnetic to Hoyt. As Harris “trains” Hoyt in the ways of the badge, the young officer is slowly influenced and manipulated to do things against his beliefs. TRAINING DAY shows how easily one can turn down the wrong path and how subtly it can begin, or as Confucius put it, “To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness”.
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