TOPAZ Issue 7 / 2003
A gallery of personal portraits
To carry forth the Olympic Spirit
Personal development
Film prompters
Healing - its inside the value and purpose of life
Research and discoveries in the garden
Drawing - the unseen hand
Children with ADHD win confidence
A new and original colour combination for ADHD schools
Colour Curios

Film Prompters

In the context of this issue of the Topaz, we asked ourselves the question: ‘How can films assist us in this journey of personal development?’ The films recommended here are, of course, not produced to assist in this journey, but they offer an imagery that can contribute to our understandings about the journey of personal development. Instead of reviewing one film, we thought that it would be a good idea to include some films to illustrate the article on personal development. We are not necessarily recommending the whole film, although some of them might provoke more inspiring thoughts than we have touched upon.

Film-prompter 1 - The film ‘Jerry Maguire’ tells the story of a sports agent who asks himself the questions, ‘what did I actually want from life when I was young and what have I become now that I am older?’. He then steps outside his usual life, which instantly causes an uneasiness. He decides to write a ‘mission statement’ for all his colleagues, which promotes less of a focus on money and more on the quality of life, less of a focus on winning and profit and more on humanity and friendship. The core notion of personal development is ‘change’. One powerful inspiration can cause change. This film shows how such a life-changing moment can result in a different way of going on, with many moments of learning how to handle change and view it as a development potential.

Film-prompter 2 - Real personal development can lift us to a third place that sits above the two fighting giants of faith and proof, belief and hard facts, religion and science. It is difficult to explain, but wonderfully portrayed in the film ‘Contact’. Jody Foster is a scientist who has to appear in front of a critical committee to explain an experience she has had. This experience was beyond anything she had previously known and certainly beyond any commercial interests. Her education simply does not support her explaining this experience, so she has to reach inside to place that experience in a much greater context, and one that touches upon why the human is on earth. She says, “I had an experience. I can’t prove it, I can’t explain it. But everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am, tells me that it was real. I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever, a vision of the universe that tells us undeniably how tiny and insignificant and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that none of us are alone. I wish that I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment could feel that awe and the humility and the hope... But..., that continues to be my wish.”

Film-prompter 3 - Each day offers the chance for change, each hour, each minute. There are many films that offer examples of the inner magic and passion that can be discovered in the small things of life and how much wisdom they can reveal to us and how much change they can propose. Films like ‘Innocent Moves’ with Joe Montagna, or ‘Stars fell on Henrietta’ and the film ‘A River Runs Through It’ from Robert Redford. These are all films that promote a richer and deeper intimacy with the simple things of life. The comedy ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray highlights this as well.

Film-prompter 4 - Change can take an upward or downward direction, it can lead to growth or to decay. This feature of personal development can be found in many aspects of life, and in the way we deal with this change. The film ‘First do no Harm’ with Meryl Streep tells the tale of a woman who searches for the cause of epilepsy, trusting her own capability to reason and assess even when the authorities do not confirm her and even when generally accepted views are against her. The same message is extended by another marvellous film, ‘Lorenzo's Oil’ with Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte. This film also promotes the need to think and add things up for oneself. These are films about people who seize the chance to decide how they handle change and who do not automatically follow generally accepted views.

Film-prompter 5 - Are we one of those who consciously live their life or “are we being lived”. In the film ‘Finding Forrester’ with Sean Connery some very interesting clues are given about how to live one’s own life and not to adopt those things that will make us a victim of our own patterned responses. Sean Connery plays a famous elderly writer who has a young man as a student, and at one point says to him, ‘The thing that people are most afraid of is what they don’t understand’. He warns his student that fear leads to assumption and assumption to judgement. Many films convey useful warnings in often simple and sometimes powerful ways. A recent film called ‘The Recruit’ with Al Pacino, sprinkles these warnings like confetti through the film. The notion that prompts alertness and presence of mind throughout the film is: ‘Nothing is what it seems to be’. Another film is the German ‘Hanussen’, about a very successful clairvoyant who lived in Germany just before the Second World War and who fell prey to the consequences of his abilities. Often our special abilities can help us on the journey of personal development, but sometimes we fall prey to them and they start to determine us instead of the other way around.

Film-prompter 6 - To leave the world a better place than when we arrived. In this context the film ‘Dead Poets Society’ with Robin Williams is recommended - a film about spiritual liberation and the difficulties that face us in trying to break free from conformity, and thus to find one’s natural contribution into life.

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