Skip to main content

Explanation of the movie 'Revolver'

I saw the movie for the umpteenth time last night and I finally got it.

This is what the movie says:

1) In every game and con there is always a victim and there is always an opponent. It's good to know when you are the former so you can become the latter.

2) But the question is how do you prepare yourself for this game?

3) You only get smater by playing a smarter opponent.

4) The smarter the game the smarter the opponent

5) Checkers is an example of such a game. Chess is a better game. Debate is an even better opportunity to learn and so on.

6) But the question is where does the game stop? or one can ask what is the smartest game one can play?

7) The answer according to the movie is: "The game of con you play with yourself".

The text below has been added on 3 Dec 2008 and is based on a comment posted on October 30, 2008, at time 4:12 PM. I have only recently understood what this person meant and it is one of the most powerful things i have come across (Do read the comment to see what the person himself wrote)

The mind according to the movie is only a "tool" that we use to help us deal with the world around us. It is a tool like our hands and feet are our tools. The problem arises when we think of the "mind as more than a tool"; and in fact identify with it! This identity which is just an illusion is what is called the "ego" [and which according to the movie is: "Mr. Gold"].

The main character of the movie faced his ego in the elevator where the realization of the fact that his "own identity" was different from his "ego" hit a threshold and thus he became "free" or "enlightened".

When we realize and can identify our "ego" is when we begin to take the role of the opponent in the "game of con" [vs. the role of the victim] .

Re-edited: 27th September 2009

The mind should not define us; [it should be used as] a tool that it is. Not doing so creates an unhealthy ego that has [malevolent] control over us. If we take charge of our mind or ego we take charge of our reward system.

Our current reward system may in some ways be harmful to us [thus creating the pain and misery in our lives resulting from our own actions]. Machiavelli - “There is no avoiding war it can only be postponed to the advantage of the enemy”.

Added on 01 April 2009
It might be useful to study the following material with a paper and pencil in hand. Take notes and see if you come across any useful lessons at the end. In any case this will be an interesting exercise to do :)
The movie talks about ego and by doing so gives us cognition that we are approval junkies i.e we are addicted to seeking the approval of others. It says we are approval junkies primarily because we feel good when we are recognized as special. We think it is good to be recognized as special because it means we have achieved something. It is of course good to achieve things because as long as we keep achieving things we keep moving towards a better life.

This is not a very bad thing at a certain stage of one’s life because it is related to the rule of “self-preservation”. The rule of self-preservation as I understand it tells us to be selfish and protect our own interests in order to protect ourselves. As long as we do this however we keep seeking for other people’s approval. As we become more cognizant of the reality around us we notice that different people approve of different things and so we have to choose what it is that is worth getting approval for.

While becoming aware of the way the world works, we realize that our selfishness should mature into not only protecting our own interests but also the interests of other agents [people, skills, knowledge, etc] in our environment. This is because our lives are intertwined with other things/agents around us and so the more we strive for others the more we are in fact striving for ourselves. [And in this effort we also begin to learn “what it is” that we should ask approval for]

Many times however people “do not” realize that helping other agents is actually in their benefit [so they never wake up!].

For example if somebody hates me and I was to be rude to him or even to ignore him, I would generally think that I am doing the right thing by protecting myself against him! On the contrary if I were to really protect myself against him, then I would have to ensure that his actions do not influence me, in fact I would have to ensure that my enemy has no influence over me of any kind. If my enemy were to really not influence me then I should actually be able to be good to him [because this is an opportunity for me to grow, an opportunity for me to learn how to handle such a person, an opportunity to create happiness around me]. I should [have reached a point] be good to him so much so that I do not feel the need to point out his fault [since he probably will not listen] instead manipulate him so that he is able to figure out where he is going wrong. To be able to manipulate him I would first have to earn his trust, for which I will have to [make him invest in me] react to him in a way that I gain his trust. Once I have gained his trust I can continue to manipulate him to show him what I know.

I would like to pause here to mention what I think is the quickest route to moving from being an approval junkie to being somebody who is “preserving himself” while becoming free from the need for “approval” and so reaches a state where he is “sustainably happy” i.e. is happy within his environment [by having the power to make other people around him happy for example].

The quickest route I think is “to do good for goodness sake”, i.e. to do good because “good is beautiful”. So for example if I were to want to help my enemy [not in order to negate my own ego but] because of the realization that he and I make up a very small microcosm and that there is a much greater macrocosm to which I “feel” connected. And so in helping him, all I would be doing is participating in this “macrocosm” to my heart’s content [My heart beats with this macrocosm and not with the small petty things. These small petty things are significant only as far as they are themselves a part of this macrocosm. We are all thus equally a part of this macrocosm, each one of us just like any one red blood cell in our body!]. If we go about connecting with the macrocosm in this way we would in fact be negating our ego or what little remains of it after continuous practice of this exercise.

However there is one very big trap that we must avoid here!

If one’s perception of good is “unrealistic” then they will only harm themselves and others around them, till they wake up to the reality that will inevitably give them the knowledge they didn’t have.


  1. I think the movie is about the human ego. I think the movie explains that your enemy is in your head. It's what you think is "you". The part that thinks and where you identify yourself with. Basically it explains that when you understand or you grow concious of the fact that the thinker, the voice in your head, the constantly judging, guessing, contemplating, fantasizing mind isn't who you really are, then you're free. That's what happens in the elevater when Jake gets stuck. He finally recognises the voices in his head, his thoughts as his mind and no longer as himself. He discovers his mind is a tool but not himself. So in my opinion revolver is all about enlightenment. Read up on enlightenment and in particular the power of the ego and you will catch my drift.

  2. I absolutely agree with you that this movie is about enlightenment!

    And in the process you overcome your ego.

    And so the movie has made an incredible demonstration thus making this obvious to us.

    The next question that we have to ask ourselves is this: "How do we reach a higher level of enlightenment?"

    And this I think is the answer that all successful people have answered to a degree that is proportional to their success.

    I myself am also on this journey like so many people who at different points in their lives are also becoming aware like me.

    In my blog I am documenting this process of enlightenment.

    The most beautiful aspect of this journey is that it is a journey without a destination simply because there is no limit to how far we can go.

    1. By going where you know you do not want to go or by accepting what you do not want to accept. It's like carving away at a chunk of wood to create an attractive sculpture: you need to make modifications to self.

    2. Thato, I really like your comment!

  3. When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. Thought then becomes invested with a sense of self. This is the ego, a mind-made "me". That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and precarious. That's why fearing and wanting are its predominant emotions and motivating forces.

    When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice you realize that who you are is not the voice - the thinker - but the one who is aware of it.

    Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom.

    Excerpt from Eckhart Tolle's "Stillness Speaks"

  4. I remember watching Revolver for the first time, expecting to see a typical Guy Ritchie movie. But revolver didn't make any sense to me and I quickly labeled it as a bad movie. A year or two later I watched the movie again. It was around the time that I was reading a book called "The four agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's a book about the ego and about people dreaming up an illusion. I had also just started reading one of Eckhart Tolle's books. Half way through the movie I started thinking about the stuff I had just read and in the elevator-scene it suddenly hit me. Revolver was a movie about breaking free of the ego. I felt very euphoric during the rest of the movie and wanted to know about other people's opinions. I immediately started browsing the net for similar explanations, but I couldn't find any. I wanted to share my own explanation and then I came across this blog. I remember reading the 7-point analasys and thinking there should be another point. I just saw revolver a third time and I remebered writing a comment somewhere... I'm glad it's still here and it's nice to see somebody caught up with my drift :) You seem to have read up in the meantime and I think it's funny you quote Eckhart Tolle, because not long after I watched the movie a second time, I read more of his work and he explains it all so clearly. To conclude, I think Revolver is an amazing movie, but I guess the person watching it needs to already be a little bit 'aware' to understand the movie's message. So if you want to recommend it to somebody, tell them to read Eckhart Tolle first. ;)

  5. "The Four Agreements" is a very well written book in the same light of any of Og Mandino's wonderful stories. All of them relate to a book I read 30 years ago titled "The Power of the Subconscious Mind." When you learn to control your thoughts (or at least recognize them) as positive or negative, you will have a much better grasp of how your ego is shaped. I loved the movie Revolver and really have a better respect for Guy Ritchie for creating such a good storyline.

  6. this whole movie is not actual events taking place, but just metaphors for the struggle that is playing out in jake's mind. jake is the sense of self trying to regain control and break free from ego-mr. gold. macha is greed. money and drugs represent power over mind. macha has been the dominant personality and has had jake imprisoned for 7 yrs because he provides mr. gold with drugs and money.zach is influence. avi is intuition, which is why jake must give up all of his money to him for his help and also why he always second guesses him and thinks he is playing mind games.we dont always trust our instinct. billy is realistic point of view. billy's daughter is innocence. slim biggins is gluttony. lord john is lust. sorter is the conscience. the doctors are the super conscious. the guy who tells billy to tell jake to get out is the sub-conscious. the elevator is fear. which is what ego hides behind. after macha receives the newspapers and starts hearing voices in his head, that is ego turning on him. when jake emerges from the elevator and walks past macha he has taken himself back.

    1. Mr. Gold is not the EGO! You all have completely misunderstood the film! Gold is real, gold is good, gold is god - omnipotent and omniscient - the color gold is everywhere in the movie, but everything is only gilded! The ego is green ie money, thus jake's name. Jake is taken up to be with the con-men, who are mister gold, or rather god. Everyone in the movie, consumed with ego, are going after the green when the goal, the true self, enlightenment, the realization of the way the game is played, is TRUE GOLD!

    2. Excellent! Well said! Over and over i whach this movie through the years and recommend it! It leaves quite an impression on me as this explanation has!

    3. JSStripper has the most cogent explanation(IMO);however I do not believe that Mr. Gold was an attempt to separate from ego. I believe that Mr Gold was the world's consciousness, and merely a distraction that everyone pursued. Avi & Zach used the distraction to teach Jake the lesson of self. Macha was the personification of ego with the entire need for validation. Could be wrong, but the voice in my head needs no

    4. it all links up to one wrong mind: ego mind. There is nothing outside this mind. It is inclusive of the entire dream/movie/play/game. Everything apart from that is GO(L)D...infinite, invisible, unknowable being - being nothing.

  7. Its very true,I loved the movie Revolver for it shows clearly how various illusions of minds like Ego,Lust,greed and all the other low tendancies keeps our mind occupied and doesn't let us live peacefully with others.The best opponent is ME and if i can be peaceful with myself by becoming free of all the false illusions of mind then i have no enemies.

  8. I hope that guy richie dude sticks with it and continues to make films that are not one dimensional like the rest of the crap that is being produced all around the would today just to make a ridiculous amount of money. Well done on revolver Guy... you blew my mind!! It shows how screwed/unaware we are if people couldnt get that film! Would be cool to see Guy Richie and Zach Snider producer such a multi dimensional film together.

  9. It may be just because i've been a strip club DJ for the past decade and a half, but imho the best, most complete and concise explanation of the film's myriad meanings is the one posted by "just some stripper". you can learn a lot from a dancer; i sure have!

  10. I've been reading a lot about the Enneagram lately, and one thing that seems to bring a more complete perspective about the "need for approval" thing is that not everyone is looking necessarily for it; rather, it could be better described as a need for confirmation of one's self image - e.g., "I'm strong", "I'm unique" etc. -, which varies according to each of the nine personality types.

    And since many people here are recommending a book, I highly recommend "The Wisdow of the Enneagram", by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, a book that is helping me greatly with all aspects of personal development.

  11. For what it's worth, the movie does contain a certain amount of metaphors if one wants to view them as metaphors. The fact of the matter is it is about recognizing the false ego personality that has convinced you it is you. There is a spirit self inside all of us seeking to get out from under the thumb of the false ego personality.

    I am not going to speculate on who the mysterious Sam Gold is, nor try to apply metaphoric analogies with the characters in the film. That would only be engaging in mere speculation and defeats the purpose of the film. There is no need to complexify what the point of the film is, and that is that the ego is the 'enemy within' for all of us and needs to be recognized and set aside.

    Don Juan Matus called the ego a 'foreign installation' that must be removed before one can attain stilling the 'inner dialogue', which is the incessant voice in our heads called the ego. Only by truly recognizing the ego as the enemy within and setting the ego aside can we achieve true inner silence and gain control of our life in reality over ego illusions.

    One can either be spirit-centric or ego-centric. One cannot be both. You can't serve two masters. There is no compromise with the ego, there is no sharing the space in your head with the fictional ego personality. It needs to be banished to a very small place in you - for self protection in fight or flight circumstances only. Beyond that use for protection of the body, the ego has no real purpose in you, although it will do anything it can to convince you of your need to continue to be ruled by it - just as in the elevator scene with Jake.

    Setting aside the ego cannot be attained by intellectualizing the philosophical principles, nor by allowing the ego to convince you that a philosophical acceptance removes the ego. It only allows it to continue to rule you. The ego must be seen as an adversary who needs vanqiushing to its own dungeon. If you do not approach setting aside the ego in this manner, then you are only involved in mental ego masturbation.

  12. Ah, but enlightenment, is the ultimate self deception, freedom in a vacuum is useles.

  13. If You really want to know how to rid yourself of the ego practice self inquiry best described by Ramana Maharshi.

  14. Life is a game, deception is the trick. SELF is found only AFTER the "world"; the desire and ambition of the ego is given up. Jake had to "die", or face death before he began to make THE SACRIFICE. What must we sacrifice? OUR worldly treasure; that which substantiates our MATERIAL existence - and which leads us away from our TRUE essence. This treasure is the FAKE prize around which we orchestrate our lives, and which we invest the most in. The world game is ultimately an illusion, and its trick, "the con" is to get us "to bite. The harder we bite, the deeper we get trapped.

  15. The four agreements are an extract made simple to understand about sorcery in the books of Carlos Castaneda, Which is the manipulation of perception. NLP explain some of the processes the mind uses to create and distort reality(the matrix, the map)Using language as the code for commands to behavior . And how the conditioning of lifetime limits any knew knoledge or views that contradict your own reality. In the movie ,there are little things that most people like Mr GREEN himself misses , like the books of physics by the the side of ZACK ,the match on AVI,s mouth, the twelve dollar bill Avi puts in front of the camera and the chess plays written in the bags of money.. Unless you start engaging in battle you can,t come up with moves against the tricks of the mind and any effort to win by logical thinking will only have you messing in the EGO playground. It takes willing dicipline to overcome Ego,, But now there is an easier way thanks to SIDNEY BANKS and his teaching of mind ,thought and conciusness and how you can attain CLARITY of mind just by disengaging ,not resisting thought.

  16. I'm not sure my earlier comment took, so I'll try again.

    I've watched this movie before but, somehow, did not remember these things until I watched it again tonight. I appreciate you offering your thoughts for the benefit of others.

    Remember the monks in the monasteries who practiced humility, giving up the pride of self. To their great horror, their own humility became a source of pride and gave foothold to the ego.

    Philosophies over the entire recorded history of human existence have given much thought and discussion to the problem of the self. Different forms of Buddhism, Taoist philosophy, and others have created tools for recognizing and dealing with the ego.

    However, the ego is not some enemy, some "other" to be vanquished. The ego is part of you and it is involved in a never-ending dance with the other parts of your mind. As soon as you think you have dealt with ego, you will recognize that the speaker is the very ego that you sought to vanquish.

    The real trick, then, is to become a well-integrated person, able to flow with the changes of self as they occur over time.

    I wish you well. My ego salutes you! ;-)

  17. In the end of the movie they say that our ego created the devil. So that we would have something to blame when we experienced pain and hurt. I say the opposite is true. That the devil actually used the sciences like psychology to create or locate the "ego". So we could blame that instead of him. It is no coincidence that Jake stopped between 14th and 12th floor. The 13th floor is synonymous with evil and the devil. So many bad things happened on that floor that they stopped labelling it the 13th floor. Thats why you see them no where. Other reasons I think this movie was more spiritual than psychological. Is that they called Mr. Gold Mr. Blackmagic. How he runs this world. And how to really piss him off is by giving to the less fortunate. How about the symbolism of the snake. All these things point to Satan. And I think Guy Ritchie knows these things to be true but he puts right beneath the surface in this movie. So that you see but you dont see. So I leave with this. And youve heard it before and so have I. That the greatest con ever pulled was when the devil convinced the world he did not exist. I wish you the best knowledge seekers.

  18. I think perhaps Mr Gold is actually the realised self, the self we all wish we were. The true authentic Golden self.
    'We are Gods' is another way of understanding this, if the goal is to understand the game, then really we must understand ourself and face our 'ego' in order to transform the self.
    The trick is that "we are smarter than we think" we already know what we don't want to accept, yet when we face this and go where we don't want to go we realise we have the power all along. We must confront all those things we use to keep our ego safe, and break them down if we are to reach this golden state.
    Our identity is not tied to our ego, once we realise this we have the ability to confront our fears and overcome them, literally mastering the self, once this occurs then we are able to reach enlightenment.-**become golden**
    Mr Gold represents the true self we wish we could be, we fear his power, his wealth of knowledge, but once we slay the ego,
    We realise we are Mr Gold all along! we are the one that we were running from, never understanding the full power that already lies within us. #justmyinterpretation

  19. Regardless of each point of view and explanation, the discussion here alone is exhilarating! :)

    Personally, I recognise merits in all that is written here...
    Each comment expresses a personal view unique to that person, by sharing our thoughts, we encourage open discussion and by entertaining the perspectives of others we gain insight and understanding as well as learning acceptance...
    All of which contribute to building a community of more connected beings in tune with ourselves, others and our environment.

    Something I ponder....
    Is it really a coincidence that the same letters are used to spell EGO and GOD?
    GOD is within, driven by love.
    EGO is within, driven by fear.
    Same thoughts around LIVE and EVIL...

    I don't think you can have light without darkness.
    Everything has an opposite - up/down, right/wrong etc.
    We all have good and bad in us. Balance is the key.
    Awareness empowers us to make a conscious choice.

  20. I appreciate this blog and all of the comments posted in response. This is a profound movie and well worth watching multiple times. Since I enjoyed reading the comments I wanted to add some of my own. I believe Mr. Gold is the self, who is unknowable. (Zen masters meditate by asking themselves "What am I?"), Mr. Green is a neophyte on the quest for self-awareness and/or enlightenment. Macha is the ego, Lord John is the Id, the base of the ego. Avi is intellect and Zach is creativity of Mr. Green's mind. (I think the word mind is correct, I am not sure.) The elevator represents meditation. It is only in there that the voices can be heard and recognized as non-self. The price of self-awareness requires giving up everything in order to become free from the ego. I think Sarter is insight, the girl must be innocence. I liked the comments on philosophy and consciousness and also the discussion on greed and drugs. This movie has a lot to offer and reading the diverse comments provides me with some helpful ideas. Does anyone disagree this movie is about Kabala symbolism? I believe it blends well with Buddhist philosophies.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What should we aspire to

I have come about an understanding about the absolute purpose of our being and I think it’s not ambition but an aspiration. But if it is an aspiration what could be the absolute aspiration? Clearly the pharaoh must have taught his people to aspire to a position in his court. His method must have been a reward for serving him. But what service did he put his society to? It was the building of the Pyramids. Now the pyramids like all his other social projects were aggrandizement meant for him. And with the pharaoh at the top and his workers at the bottom another structure was created which was the hierarchy of society. Interestingly this entire society was put to one goal only: aggrandizement. Aggrandizement of any kind is inherently fleeting. For example if we aggrandize money it will get used up and disappear. If we aggrandize a seat of power sooner or later it will also disappear. Hence neither aggrandizement serving ourselves nor for another can be the highest we can aspire for.

Fundamentals of Humor

The goal of humor is to make the audience laugh. I show how a basic joke that aims at producing laughter is made of specific building blocks. Here I also talk about varying style to produce different kinds of humor. This is shown diagrammatically. The material for the post comes mostly from an online Google book by the author Mary Ann Rishe titled “Writing Humor: Creativity and the comic mind”. Laughter is a pleasurable physical response we experience as we respond to humor. Emotion builds in the body and then, because it can't be reabsorbed by the brain as quickly as cognition, it erupts as "excess energy". [Thus it is a physiological response to a stimulus]. Our goal is to create this "excess energy" in the audience. To understand how let's turn to the definition of humor. Humor Defined "Humor is playful incongruity that contains a tension between two levels of meaning followed by a clash of sufficient complexity that surprises and delights an