I remember when I caught up with the movie “Poseidon,” having watched the Gene Hackman version, probably 20 times over, I wondered what could be done to follow that act. After watching the new attempt I realized what I should have predicted. It is nearly impossible to follow a classic when you in any way imitate it. “Poseidon” is filled with people and scenes, which wind up appearing to be feeble ghosts of the original production. It would have been wiser to not even try. Likewise, “Titanic” could not be duplicated, any more than “Gone With The Wind” or Doctor Zhivago could be. After getting over being riled up, I went on however, to do some more thinking. Why was all this so emotionally important, why was I so loyal to the great Poseidon original?
There is something very real and deep in doing a great work on the struggle of life. When we see the daring efforts to survive a seemingly hopeless catastrophe, we imagine bits of ourselves in the characters.
First we identify with them, and eventually come to admire and love them. Gene Hackman, as the “Renegade Priest” is perfect. He is genuinely Christ-like in his efforts to move his “flock” onward toward salvation. And salvation in a world turned up side down, no less. Like Christ he makes the ultimate sacrifice, but that sacrifice opens the way for the rest to survive. Shelley Winters as the portly grandmother who dies having secured a way through and saving the priest, is also perfect and unique.
These archetypes of human courage become investments to us. It is our own best effort we see in them. If they can make it through, we can make it through.
And so, in our own modern world, often feeling upside down ourselves, still we grope toward the light. I guess its no wonder we are picky about the presentation of our struggle when shown in symbolic style. We know we have it in us to “go the distance,” and using the courage our heroes have helped give us, we finally return in full measure, by doing our part.
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