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Cast Away (2000)
Deepest film ever from a Taoist perspective (SPOILERS)
It is all all about shedding the ego. Chuck has a HUGE ego. Not in the sense that he is a jerk or selfish but in the Buddhist way definition of ego: he think he can control everything (ego) and lives totally in time (ego) and puts his job first, because it creates a sense of order (ego) and so on. He puts more stock in giving Kelly a ring at the car than staying behind to be with her for the holidays because, to the Ego, a ring is more important than the relationship. Ego loves symbols and form more than what is behind them. However, the universe endlessly tests his ego by showing him that he is actually powerless. Which he cannot accept. First, he is in Russia and he gets the clock that he sent himself and it took many days to get there and shows him he is out of control. But he makes that everyone else's problem and even steals a kids bicycle to speed up the package delivery. he is willing to do anything to regain control rather than accept any powerlessness. Then his friends wife is dying and he , again , can't accept his own powerlessness and suggests a doctor to "fix this thing". Which, of course he can't. It's death. Since Kelly knows what he loves best, she gives him a watch because time is the only thing he finds valuable (ego). And then the plane goes down. On the island he is endlessly shown how powerless he is, and again wont accept it. He cant make fire, he cant eat, his tooth is decayed. But he wont accept it, he keeps trying to overcome it with reason. He still is collecting packages. Finally, he cant even kill himself correctly. At this point, is his first glimpse at a higher self because, later, when he tells the story to his friend, he say that when he realized that he couldn't even kill himself, a "warm feeling came over him" and stayed with him. This is his first moment of enlightenment, a forced realization that he is totally powerless and thus a moment of forced alignment with something higher. Then it takes four more years of ego battering before he has let go of ego enough internally to be able to just float where the winds take you (as Lao tze says) ... literally.. as a sail comes in.
But when he gets home, his dormant ego flares up again, as it tries to control the uncontrollable, he still hasn't totally learned. So he tries to get Kelly back instead of accepting the situation. thus he is still on the island in his head which is a metaphor for separateness. "No man is an island" The island IS Ego itself.
in the third act, every time his ego flares up and he is trying to control things again ... there is a clock in the background. he is still stuck in time. Again, his ego is pummeled and he must accept his own powerlessness. And then finally, BOOM, it really all comes at once. he lets go. He accepts his own total powerlessness totally and gets in a car and gets to a crossroads having no idea, for once in his life, where he is going. At which point, his angel arrives. His angel tests him one last time. She tells him that to the right is Flagstaff but back the way she is going is "a whole lot of nothing" In the end, he looks back toward nothingness (the direction she is going" and we know he is going to choose the road to nothingness instead of the known destination of Flagstaff, because he has released his ego, accepted powerlessness. He is now capable of drifting powerlessly toward nothingness which is really not nothing at all, it is an alignment with the Universe. Especially so, because the cute girl with the wings lives in that direction and they may fall in love. One last great thing here. When he went to her ranch to leave the package. She has removed the Name "Dick" from "Dick and Bettina" and this now, it only says "Bettina" . From a symbolic perspective, the "Dick" (male organ/ ego) has been removed which represent man and power and only the feminine power is left, the return of the feminine power is associated in Joseph Campbell as mans realignment with God. Bettina which in Hebrew means "God's Promise". And finally, he stand on a cross. (crossroads) resurrected. Wow.
Moral of the story: To shed the ego, totally accept your powerlessness. You will be tested again and again till you genuinely do this. When the ego is shed, then the true self, the one aligned with the Universe and God. Can emerge and take you where you need to go as you are now part of the whole.