The Discovery is a 2017 British-American romantic science fiction film, directed by Charlie McDowell from a screenplay by himself and Justin Lader. It stars Rooney Mara, Jason Segel, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, and Ron Canada.
The premise of the movie is simple, yet profound. The story was not too intricate, but is potent enough to sink those existential questions, the ones that matter most, deeper if not too deep, to keep many of us from sleeping.
The movie begins with an interviewer questions Thomas Harbor, the man who scientifically proved the existence of an afterlife, a discovery that led to an extremely high suicide rate. The interviewer asks Harbor if he feels responsible, and he says no. Directly after, a film crew member kills himself on air*.
The movie in my humble opinion breaks the commonly accepted fact of what happens to us after death. In a way, in its twisted, depressing and somber way it sheds a ray of hope, that maybe death is not that bad after all. That perhaps, as my dear friend, would normally quote, that the Dead know one thing, that it is better to be alive, is not entirely true and perhaps they truly are in a better place than we are. For all we know, maybe, Jesus really did mean it after all, when he told the dying man beside him, at the moment of death, that he was going to be with him, that day, in Paradise. I can only say #Jesusknewsomadvancedthings
The progression of the story, was slow, yet fast and dynamic in subtle ways that neither makes you anticipate but not bored or left speculating endings and it ends with perhaps the most heartbreaking and promising ways at the same time.
It took me some time to write about this–death and life, are topics that worry friends, family and those close to you. Not to mention, you would probably start receiving invitations to some wellness session from your Human Resource department. This topic, while undeniably true and inescapable, somehow had been pushed to taboo if not to the cognitive horizon. So, after a couple of months, here are a few of those things I had managed to distill as lessons from the movie.
The Beauty Of Life Lies In The Fact That It Ends
The start of the movie was slow, yet paced just right to create a crescendo that overshadowed the outcome of two of the four most interesting, if not focal characters in the movie. Will Harbor (Jason Segel) meets Isla (Rooney Mara) in a ferry ride going to an island. Same destinatioN. Same purpose. Different goal.
Will is the son of the man, who discovers, that death is not the end of all, that is it actually a destination that is perhaps, only in speculation better than this plane of existence. Unwilling to accept that his father’s Eureka moment was inspired by an experience Will had in childhood, he lives his accomplished life trying to run away from it, if not ignore it. Isla, on the other hand, is someone who had everything one wanted to hold on to and lost, who at that point, just wanted to move on to what is next.
Headed towards the same path, different roads and yet crossing to meet each other halfway, only to find themselves separated between planes of existence reminds us of one thing. That love is a germ that grows even in the coldest of hearts (a line from the X Files I shall never forget). That one of the most beautiful things in man’s life, is that it ends, that there is terminality in it. That this moment, right here and now, while it can be recreated can never happen again, that sunset, that smile, that kiss, that hug and all acts of human kindness, are but encapsulated in one moment and can never happen again.
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same manHeraclitus
Our Choices Make Our Life And Our Decisions Define Death
Life never came with a manual. My dad who happens to be a pastor, will object, saying that the good book is the manual and yet none in any of the good books, can we ever find a similar manual as we would any furniture assembly instruction; nowhere do we find what we used to on new devices and gadgets and nowhere are things clearly stated enough for us to not be clueless.
Our lives are made of the decisions we make. The decisions we make are formed by our experiences, self-images, perspectives and many other things in the real of psychology and yet at times, we also know that for some reason the soul intervenes in these choices. Like those moments, that neither reason nor logic can explain only our gut.
So our lives are then made of choices to be made and our decisions are those that define it. As we make these decisions we progress in life, inching closer to our terminal ends, that beautiful moment, when the summation of who we were, what we are, and how we we lived are all accounted for in our minds, hearts and souls.
A scene from the movie, shows, Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), pushing forward the fringes of his discovery–an actual video footage of the afterlife. Initialy thinking that it failed, then learning that Will sabotaged it and seeing that it does, Thomas, decides to destroy the whole experiment and keep it hidden. That decision, though, relatively simple, to the scientific and academic mind he had communicated, was totally does not follow. Yet, he made that choice. Yes, those moments when we decide over the choices presented to us, are what defines our lives and who we are at our deaths.
We Look For Reason, But Yearn For Purpose
Just a month ago, as the government of my country of residence had started to feel was just all a scare, well, rather it seemst that way and people got bored to pay the price of safety, I was tasked to communicate a government mandate to have business operations be completed in offices. While the wisdom behind it is hinged on reviving industry, it still did not match as industry was quite alive (now I am digressing).
So there I was communicating what many would think so simple, of course it should be, it was meant to be done for compliance and yet, deep inside I know that sometimes answers are not what people need, at times, more often than we ntoice, our humanity needs some purpose, some greater wisdom that makes our lives have sense and meaning.
Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?Troy, Movie
We want to know that our lives have meaning, that there is purpose in all this chaos, that somehow, we are part of a greater something, is what primarily moves us at times, if not now, or later, at the twilight of our days.
The movie shows us how people perceive purpose and with some varied complexity. Thomas, impelled with some inspiration from Will’s childhood experience. Will denying his accidental role in the Discovery, had made himself and accomplished fellow of the science, while his younger brother, understanding that he neither has the smarts nor the tenacity as his father and older brother have was all too happy to be the forager, Toby (Jess Plem), to watch over and create structure in the community his father had made for those who can never seem to move to the next plane via the suicide express.
While that small circle knew, the question, only God should now know, the movie shows that it had not changed their nature, that they are playing the same roles they had identified and perceived themselves to take part in. They are part of the inherent play orchestrated by the spirit of the world, the wisdom of the collective and the power of imagination that had continually pushed man to limits that define the horizon.
This should all make us pause, in think deeply, perhaps, deeper than we have. What ripple had we left for eternity, will the next plane be an answer to those questions whose answers are within our grasp and yet unable to take for fear?
What shall be your verse?John Keating, Dead Poets Society