Saturday, May 3, 2008

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.

21 comments:

  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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"

    ReplyDelete
  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. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

      Delete
    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!

      Delete
    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 validation...lol

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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!

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete