Over at Elementary Politics I just completed a list of 10 films I think conservatives should make. Now to balance out my beliefs, here are 10 films I think New Agers should make. Why because, regrettably our ideas are not getting out there enough. There is scientific proof that the afterlife exists (and not just for Christians but for everyone) and that reincarnation is a fact—evidence that it is our souls and our free will that dictate everything in our lives and that we are not the victims of fate or circumstance beyond our control…but so little of it gets out there. There are the few good movies out there (What Dreams May Come, Dead Again, the early Shaymalan stuff) and there is some stuff that tries but fails at quality film making (The Celestine Prophecy comes to mind). But there is so much out there that could be made that would help bring these ideas to public attention
The Messengers: If you’re not familiar with this book you should go out and find a copy. The story of a man who through past life regression therapy finds out that he was Saul of Tarsus…better known as St. Paul. And that he knew Jesus well before the road to Damascus. As a film it has that thing Hollywood loves, parallel story lines (the modern story of the man finding out who he was and coming to terms with it, the ancient story of Jesus’ true teachings)—and both stories are compelling. And while controversial (as if that never brings in box-office numbers) it tells a slightly more accurate story than most are familiar with.
“What’s the world’s greatest lie?… It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”
The Alchemist: I will fully admit that previous attempts to bring Paulo Cohelo to the big screen have been less than spectacular (I actually enjoyed Veronica Decides To Die, but I realize that I’m one of the few people to actually see it and that if you hadn’t read the book it would have made little to no sense whatsoever). But The Alchemist and its ideas that all of life has a purpose and is directed to that purpose whether you see it or not is a tale that should be brought to the screen. I’m not sure if it can be done without a healthy amount of voice over or narration to help the audience with some of the events and concepts (or at least quite a bit of exposition) but it can be done.
Waldo: No not that one. The short story by Robert Heinlein. Not familiar with it? Basically it’s The Secret if the secret were put into a futuristic sci-fi story. Centered around a physically disabled, but mentally superior inventor named Waldo whose physical deformities mean that he has to live in the zero gravity environment or be just above a paraplegic. This handicap has caused him to be very estranged from others, living in space adds to it, and his extreme genius even further drives him apart from his fellow humans…and the jealousy, envy. And lack of empathy leads to Waldo becoming a misanthrope that puts Dr. Greg House to shame. But in amongst all of this, Waldo is presented with a problem that has to be fixed if the world economy is going to continue-the source for the world’s power seems to be failing. The answer Waldo discovers to this problem–that the science of the energy source is not the problem, but that thought creates reality, and it is the general misanthropy and cynicism/fear of the world that is causing the downturn/destruction block to infinite power. What follows is a recovery not just for the world but for Waldo himself.
Quite frankly a story that puts the Law of Attraction in terms that most people understand is something that is desperately needed. Yes the name of the protagonist is going to have to be changed…we all know what you thought of when you saw the title, but aside from that this could be one of the most effective ways to bring the idea of the Law of Attraction to the general public.
“Mike is our Prometheus — but that’s all. Mike keeps emphazing this. Thou art God, I am God, he is God — all that groks. Mike is a man like the rest of us. A superior man admittedly — a lesser man taught the things the Martians know, might have set himself up as a pipsqueak god. Mike is above that temptation. Prometheus… but that is all.”
Stranger in a Strange Land: Honestly how has this movie already not been made? I realize that Hollywood has a terrible track record of actually appreciating Heinlein. But this is probably his most popular book. You would at least have thought the liberals of the 60’s would have done a poor job that showed they didn’t get anything out of it beyond the subtext of free love, but they didn’t (just as well, it would have been disappointing as that godawful Atlas Shrugged trilogy). But I still do not grok why it has never even been attempted. Am I the only one who can see Hugh Laurie playing the sharp tongued Jubal?
Portrait of Jennie: This was a great movie. The story of true love separated by a fluke of time and fate that the universe tries to atone for by ignoring the laws of time. And it is actually one of those rare movies that was superior to the book. So why does it need to be remade? Two reasons. The first is while it is a great movie with a New Age sensibility of time and destiny, and that love is a force that transcends all other limitations, it was a message that was not made particularly clear and only made sense to those who already understood what it was saying. And I feel a very skilled writer could help make some of these ideas more accessible while not sacrificing any of the depth. The second reason is that while Jennifer Jones does an Oscar worthy performance as Jennie , the movie is actually about artist Eben Adams played by Joseph Cotton, an actor so inept, stiff and lifeless you’d think he walked out of an Ayn Rand novel*. It’s a testament to the power of the movie that it still shines when its lead actor who is in every scene is a man who makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier. I would love to see the power of the film with a competent actor at the helm of the narrative.
Lost Horizon: The story of Shangri-La, a mystical realm of peace and understanding hidden in the Himalayas. Another great New Age tale that already has a film. But the existing film has two problems. One is that the early days of film had the problem that film decayed and Hollywood only discovered this part after many films had been lost. Lost Horizon is one of those films which could not be completely saved, as such there are several parts of the film that are missing. The second problem is that director Frank Capra decided that instead of just telling the story from a great book, he would insert his own political beliefs into the film. This is bad enough, but the supreme irony is that his politics in this case is an argument for complete pacifism in a movie made one year before Hitler decided to acquire Polish real estate. It doesn’t belong in the film in the first place, but in context it makes the rest of the film and its message look naive and foolish which it is not.
Lamb the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal: If you have not read this book you need to. It is one of the most hilarious stories ever told. The story of Christ’s life from someone who was actually there, Levi bar Levi, known to his friends as Biff. Biff is Jesus’s (in the book called Josh**) devout friend and protector as they grow up together and then leave Judea so that Josh can learn to be the Messiah. So, while searching out wise men in modern day Afghanistan, China and India, Josh learns the balance in Taoism, the serenity in Buddhism, and the wisdom of Hinduism…while Biff learns to blow things up with alchemy, martial arts, and the wisdom of the Kama Sutra. The book is one of those rare works that can balance humor and grace. And besides being so funny it needs a movie, it is a movie that shows that most of the world’s religions share more in common than they have separating them.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”
Illusions: while I prefer Bach’s novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull I seriously do not see any way to turn that into a movie. Even with CGI it still won’t work. So history of a barnstorming Messiah and his handbook of advice for how to be Messiah is the second best option.
Autobiography of a Yogi: I am not usually in favor of biopics. They’re so incredibly hit and miss that they turn me off for the most part, and the better ones are often the ones that play fast and loose with the facts and don’t let them get in the way of a good story. That said, the life of Yogananda and his message of the unity of religions and God is one that I feel people should be more familiar with.
Life before Life: This is a book that I think offers a lot of room to work with for a film. Obviously there would have to be a lot of composite characters, but you could do well with a tale of single research looking into one case after another of children who have memories of their past lives. If the more close minded are going to put out made up tripe like Heaven if for Real (honestly I believe in near death experiences but have no faith in that kid or his family’s story) then a movie with actual research into what happens in the afterlife is something that should be out there.
Now certainly there are other stories that depict the principles we hold so near and dear, but I think these 10 would be an excellent place to start.
*It’s no shock that he’s the star of the few screenplays Rand wrote in her brief Hollywood career.
**It does correctly describe how the Aramaic name Yeshua become Jesus if you translate into Greek then English, but Joshua when you go straight from Aramaic to English.