He had everything and wanted nothing. He learned that he had nothing and wanted everything. He saved the world and then it shattered. The path to enlightenment is as sharp and narrow as a razor's edge.
A sergeant must deal with his desires to save the lives of young soldiers being sent to Vietnam. Continuously denied the chance to teach the soldiers about his experiences, he settles for trying to help the son of an old army buddy.
Francis Ford Coppola
James Earl Jones
Larry Darrell returns from the battlefields of World War I to America a different person. His fiance (Isabel) resigns herself to a delay in the wedding plans when Larry heads off to Paris. There he finds he prefers a simpler existence and begins to read. One book inspires him to visit India and on to Nepal where he finds spiritual help from a lama. On returning to Paris he finds Isabel and some old friends. Everyone has changed. Written by
If you are an intelligent viewer who is looking for a significant and possibly mind expanding movie event then `The Razor's Edge' is for you. It has remained one of my favorite films for fifteen years, and I have owned it and replayed it many times. If you look at the viewer feedback for this film you will find that the vast majority of people rate is as `Excellent' movie (29% of IMDB viewers give it a perfect `10/10' rating). Those who fail to see it's qualities can be divided fairly equally into the `don't get it' camp (Unlike the typical Hollywood lowest denominator flicks, the minimum IQ for viewing is Razor's Edge is probably at least 100, and that leaves ½ the population out), and the `disappointed' crowd, who have so typecast the star (Bill Murray) that they wanted `Caddyshack' and just can't allow him to be a serious actor. You must set aside your prejudices and give the man a chance-Bill Murray is a Harvard grad who co-wrote the screenplay-this was a labor of love for him. Just because he has a sense of humor does NOT make him a lightweight, as this film demonstrates for anyone with the eyes to see it.
Based upon the 1942 W. Somerset Maugham novel, it follows the evolution of a spoiled upper class boy from Illinois (Larry, Bill Murray), who volunteers to be an ambulance driver in WW I for a little `fun and adventure' and instead gets a dose of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). His world was forever changed by the events he experienced. He literally could not go home again after the war. He tried, and found the lives of those around him to be shallow and meaningless, and their pursuits and interests just trivial. There had to be a reason why he was here, and this sets the stage for the real point of the movie, which is an exploration of the meaning of life. (I told you it wasn't Caddyshack!)
Obsessed with these existential issues, and finding that alcohol did not make the need go away, Larry travels to Paris, and starts to read, serious books on philosophy and religion, supporting himself as a laborer. He does not care much for his surroundings-his lack of materialism is in marked contrast to his peers and friends from before, whose dreams are to grow wealthy in the stock market. As such Larry was an early Bohemian. I found this particularly poignant, realizing as I watched this movie that it foreshadowed yet another stock market boom and bust: a whole new generation of crass materialists have had their world was just as rocked by a stock market crash in 1999 as in 1929. History does repeat, and these themes are timeless. His fiancee could not deal with his `common' friends and lack of modern plumbing, and left him to marry someone she did not love but who had money. Another contrast to the shallow and materialistic, which is a recurring theme throughout the film-what brings happiness to a man?
Larry's journey took him to India, and Hindu religion, and then on to Tibet to discover Buddha-the scenes filmed there are absolutely breathtaking, so I hope you can find a letterbox laserdisc or they finally bring this out on DVD-it is worth it to see the whole screen. There is romance, and love, and loss. I won't reveal the ending, which is truly bittersweet, and a bit nihilistic. This is truly the best thing this fine actor ever accomplished, and I rate it a strong `10'. This should have won many awards, and should also be considered a true classic; I am disappointed in my fellow man that they so typecast the star that they could not see what a great contribution he made with this effort here. Not light fare, and a long film, but one worth seeing.
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