“You’re losing your fear.”
“That you disappeared. You didn’t. You only died.”
I know I promised the New Age meanings work of Shymalan, but that’s a lot of movies to analyze (that and the foul taste of “The Last Airbender” is still in my mind…not to mention I still can’t stand watching Mel Gibson in anything, even if Signs is a great movie) so I’ll be holding off on that collection of movies for just a while longer.
So instead I will cover “What Dreams May Come.” It is a very underrated movie (although the book is a little more accurate in describing the afterlife, but a little more dull)…and as the movie was made in ’98 I don’t feel I will be spoiling it for anyone.
This movie is a great way to see New Age principles for two reasons. The first is that the first half of the movie is exceptionally accurate in describing the process of dying (with only a few things glossed over by Hollywood). The second is of course demonstrating the all powerful force of forgiveness and love. Both ideas deeply tied to New Age philosophy.
The first half of the movie deals with the main character, Chris Nielsen (played by Robin Williams) as he dies. And it accurately describes what most of use will go through when we die. We’ll have the “I see my body from above” stage. Followed by the moments of denial where we don’t quite admit that we’re dead. If we’re very lucky, and have prepared ourselves mentally, this stage will not last too long.
Then of course you have the famous tunnel of light…
…And then we have a temporary version of Heaven. I say temporary because the real heaven, the one you reach when you get to Enlightenment, is not the one you go to after death. This temporary heaven is a place of rest and learning. And as shown in the movie, we get reincarnated and go back to learn more.
Now where the movie gets it wrong is when Chris’s wife, Annie, kills herself. Yes suicides go to hell. But the real hell that people go to when they die is not quite the Dante-esque and visually stunning place shown in the movie. Real hell is quite boring. It’s a foggy, dense, cold place where your soul, unable to fully realize it’s dead but still existing can’t really form a body and more less just oozes through the mists. But where the movie really gets it wrong is that hell is not eternal. The way out of hell is to forgive yourself, even just a little. Suicides actually have one of the easiest times getting out, because they get out when they would have naturally died (and they can get out sooner if they realize what they’ve done and forgive themselves) while others can last for centuries bogged down by their own self-absorption and self-hatred. Now that still is not to say that hell is a nice place, it’s not, but no one is doomed to hell for all eternity…so really it’s more like Purgatory.
To sum up if you want to know what heaven is like, go see this movie; if you want to know what hell is like, don’t see this movie.
The other important point that the movie brings up is that forgiveness and love (they kind of are tied together when you think about it) are an all powerful force. In the movie it is the force that pulls Annie out of hell…but in a larger sense, at least for a New Ager, it is the force that will pull us all out of this hell we have created called existence. I could go on with this, but really it kind of is self-explanatory and I don’t mean to insult your intelligence. It’s not that we don’t get this rather obvious truth, it’s that we keep forgetting to put it at the forefront of our mind and let it guide us.
A final note. The movie also shows one other rarely discussed point: Soulmates make terrible parents. Soulmates, true two halves to one soul, are so bound to each other that sometimes there isn’t room for anything else. They love their children, but it can never fully replace the love they have for each other, which is a little screwed up. This leads to some shaky relationships between parent and child, as shown through Chris’s relationships with his children. So if you think you have found your soulmate…keep this movie in mind before you have children.