From time to time, I like to highlight certain unheralded films that are available on tape or DVD, particularly when I am made aware of certain prevalent energies around me.
Recently, I have been struck by how many people have related to me that they feel that they feel mired in life situations from which they want to extricate themselves. Most particularly, working in jobs that do not fulfill the yearnings of the heart.
Well, do I have a movie for you!!!
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" opened in the United States in late fall, 2000 to very little fanfare. It was, after all, a Chinese film with an entirely Asian cast and subtitled in English. The conventional wisdom for that kind of film is very simple: open it in a few cosmopolitan big cities with histories of strong art house patronage from middle-aged adults and hope for the best.
From the beginning, however, it became very obvious that, no pun intended, "Tiger" was a very different animal altogether.
Critics went berserk for it and that certainly helped establish an identity for the film right away; however, it was young audiences who showed up quickly at a film that the conventional wisdom viewed as an art film- and in huge numbers – and their interest immediately signaled that something unique was a foot.
"Tiger" is a dazzlingly original film. The basic story revolves around Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat),, a famous warrior in feudal China who wants to retire but still feels that his work is unfinished because he has not yet avenged the murder of his mentor. His magical Green Destiny sword gets stolen and he discovers that the thief is Jen ( Ziyi Zhang), a young female protégée of his mentor’s killer. He shares an unrequited love with Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and both of them try to befriend Jen and find her mentor. Jen is from noble birth but has always lived on the edge of her world and has actually been charmed and then seduced by Lo, a young desert warrior. Ultimately, all four lives intersect and the warrior gets his revenge but dies himself as well.
That, quite simply, is the story but the power of this movie lies in its heart, visuals, and spirituality. The film is steeped in mysticism and constantly crosses the barrier of what most people consider to be reality. The breathtaking martial arts sequences defy any ordinary sense of human actions. For instance, the most beautiful of all the sequences takes place in the treetops of a forest. There is no sense of gravity whatsoever as the warrior and his young adversary fly from tree to tree and branch to branch to branch. What makes the film so special is that the audience just goes along with it. No questions asked. As with the mystique that is at the core of all martial arts, the characters have an unshakable belief in the reality in which they live these ancient arts.
The core message of the film is contained in a story related to Jen by Lo when they are in the desert alone together.
Lo tells Jen of a mystical mountain where wishes come true. Lo tells her of a young man who was concerned about the health of his parents and he jumped from the mountain. "He just floated away, never to return but he knew his wish had been granted. Anyone who dares to jump from the mountain, God will grant his wish. If you believe, it will happen. A faithful heart makes wishes come true." This prophecy foreshadows the last shot of the film as Jen, realizing that she has caused the death of Li Mu Bai, dives off a bridge on the mountain and quite literally floats into eternity.
Daring to jump from that mountain is both a message and a metaphor for where we are today as human beings. Standing with our toes on the edge of a precipice, we are comforted to know that " a faithful heart" will not only prevent us from falling into the abyss, it will also enable us to cross a bridge of belief to our destinies.
Stephen Simon produced films such as Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come, and has just produced and directed Conversations with God www.cwgthemovie.com
. He also co-founded www.Spiritualcinemacircle.com