Transformation through the movies and the door of humility

Michael Zeytoonian Perspectives, Reviews

I’m taking the occasional break from dispute resolution to talk about other things, like restaurants or movies this time, in the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day.

Last time I talked about restaurants, specifically all the great breakfasts places in Gloucester.  This time, being in the midst of all the Academy Award nominations and all, I’ll focus on movies.  There was a powerful contrast this year between a great one, The King’s Speech, that offered up an unlikely lesson in humility and an annoying one, The Social Network, which reminded us of what character flaws like arrogance, inflated egos, absence of loyalty and misplaced senses of entitlement look like.  (Is there any sense of entitlement that is not misplaced?)

Both these movies are nominated for an Oscar. One deserves the award as it took a fairly mundane topic (speech impediments) and made it inspiring.  The other movie should not have been nominated, as it took what should have been a great entrepreneurial story and turned it inside out to show us its uninspiring underbelly.   The Social Network was an average movie that rode the crest of Facebook’s current popularity.  It also portrayed Harvard as a place that breeds arrogance over grace, intelligence but not wisdom, and that absurd sense of entitlement.  I hope for his sake that it’s not an accurate portrayal of the Facebook creator.  If it is, the dude is doomed to the saddest of lives – one without any true friends or a soulmate.  If there is a message to this movie, it is that boatloads of money and fame don’t get you happiness and peace of mind the way a loyal, trusted and close friend or a good woman will.

The King’s Speech was inspiring on many levels, with incredible acting by Colin Firth as King George VI.  It took an otherwise bland subject – the British monarchy in the 1930s – and gave it a soul.  The Facebook character couldn’t shake off the arrogance and the misplaced faith in his belief that he was much smarter than everyone else – even when he was faced with the pivotal choice between his best and only friend and chasing false treasures.  The Duke of York resisted the unlikely path of embracing the world of commoners at first, because it was not the typical road walked by royalty.  But when he finally allowed himself to step into the realm of humility and admit that he was powerless and needed help, his personal transformation to grace and a humble and personable dignity began.

The interesting contrast in these two lead characters is that both were given the committed person that could be the vehicle for transformation, and they both recognized this, but only one could avail himself of it.  One was able to shake off the trappings and – a wonderful line by his wife – the  “indentured servitude” of royalty that shackled him.  Only then, and only by going through the doorway of humility and with the help of a dedicated teacher could the flawed Duke of York overcome adversity to become the gracious King George VI and step into his destiny of leadership of a nation in a challenging time.  The other one could not escape the triple lures of ego, money and power.  As a result, he trapped himself into a place from which he could only imagine, from an emotional and physical distance, what the blessings of friendship and love might be like.  His fate would be to try and chase those things with a keyboard and a screen for a short time, and then eventually replace them with algorithms and code writing.

Ok, I can’t resist the great restaurant lure.  So if you’re looking for an incredible meal and an even more incredible cocktail before the movie, and you want that Back Bay Boston feel but want to stay in the burbs, il Casale in Belmont Center is your place.