What I Talk About When I Talk About The Revenant

Sushrut Munje shares on Frankaffe what he talks about when he talks about The Revenant (2015), and how a juicy tale of revenge satiates the human hunger within.

[The Revenant 2015]

A juicy tale of revenge, made haunting by the cold winds and the tall pines, is stuff that makes legends. What is it about justice that excites us so much? What is it about the return of the protagonist, to wreck havoc in the life of the villain, that leaves us spell bound? Why do we celebrate the death of a bad person, why the gaudy wonder in our eyes as the vile body is stabbed for the crimes it has committed, why the heavy breathing of a satisfied mind, satiated by completion of a loop?

We Like What We Are Taught To Like

Conditioning works in fun ways. The way expectations are built around a certain product often decides how the product would be perceived. Since the judgement of it being ‘good enough’ or ‘bad enough’ are subjective, the effort behind perception building pays off and everyone loves the outcome – because we have been carefully taught to perceive the outcome as beautiful, artsy, uncommon. It might not be – but since you believe it is, it really is. We were conditioned to like this movie, and in all probability, most of us will.

We Like Being Messed With Our Heads

Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine affect our brains – thus the way we think – which makes them addictive. Sex releases similar chemicals inside us, and that makes us happy, almost relieved. You would not indulge in the pleasurable activity if there was no climax. People enter a fight to death in order to kill. You smoke in tobacco smoke in order to feel a certain high, and alcohol in order to achieving an illusion of letting go.

It is human to feel the angst and wanting to do something about it – anger, yelling around and murder see like the apt things to do when in that mind. Anger is a dangerous drug – for it often disguises itself as righteous – and makes us do human things. We were born to be much more, but we stay put where we are, thriving in short term pleasures of sex and alcohol, messing with ourselves, building illusions, misunderstanding life. We feel a certain satisfaction in seeing the wild justice being meted out to criminals, for we believe the blade is righteous. It gives us a heady feeling, as if you have been with the woman of your dreams.

 The Revenant Satisfies

We like the villain being slaughtered by a hero who returns from the dead. We liked it in The Count of Monte Cristo, we liked it here. We love it when what goes around, comes around. The good our protagonist does in the mildest of ways helps him when he needs help the most. What is concerning, however, is how our passions run high on thoughts of violent revenge and how we often end up justifying it to ourselves.

In a grossly misguided way of thoughts – Alain de Botton, in this conversation, suggests that “We shouldn’t in any case aspire to make the states of higher consciousness permanent, because they don’t sit so well with the many important practical tasks we all need to attend to.” Oh but my dear man, we should, for understanding a liberation of that level is what we have been born for.

Growing up?

We allow our emotions to run around and rule our heart – we celebrate the traits as ‘human’ – we make love and get high on mind numbing substances all in the name of celebrating the moment – while in fact, we are giving in and only ruining our chances of being above ourselves. Satan never preached evil, Satan only preached indulgence in what makes us human. And it might not always be the right thing for our minds. Indulgence ensures we would be born again as humans – while we do have a chance to be greater than what we are.

Revenge is fine and this is a good movie – and it makes us look within and wonder if we can get past the giddiness and strive for peace.

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