In college I became a philosophy nut. I had actually been thinking about philosophy for most of my life. I just didn’t know it until I took my first philosophy class, by accident. I had always liked money, and I decided that I wanted to be rich. So I was planning on studying economics. The first college I went to had a mash up course where you took one economics course, one philosophy course, and then once a week you had an hour block where you discussed the two at the same time.
I found out that I had created some of the exact same thought experiments as famous philosophers when thinking about my own life and way of thinking. Philosophy courses gave me better words and ways of thinking about myself and those around me. To this day, I am still constantly thinking about what I actually think about things and why. I have developed my own philosophy on life (that is ever evolving).
One of the things that I love about movies is that they can introduce very complex thoughts through the blending of images, words and time. The Matrix Trilogy reinforced for me that if you can think, you deserve to live your life. The Shawshank Redemption showed me that as long as you never give up, you can’t fail. And Leaves of Grass taught me something as well. But I will get to that.
Leaves of Grass is a film about twin brothers, both played by Edward Norton. Bill is an ivy league philosophy professor who has completely recreated his life so that he can be in control of every part of it. He is brilliant and loved in the academic community. Brady is his equally brilliant, pot dealing brother. Brady gets in trouble with his “financier”, and drags his brother back home after not seeing him for 12 years. The rest of the movie is about how these two deal with Brady’s schemes and Bill’s inner turmoil.
First off, let me say that Edward Norton is fantastic! I would say that five minutes in I bought that there were two completely different characters on the screen. I stopped thinking about it being one actor playing both, and I became fully engrossed in the story. This story is funny, suspenseful, engaging and epic.
But what really struck me was Bill’s character arc. I wont go into specifics about what happens to him. You should watch this film, and you should do it with every surprise that it offers. But I do want to talk about what happens to Bill’s philosophy.
Bill wants to be in control of his life. And he has achieved just that. He is doing what he loves, he is at the top of his game, and at the very beginning of the film he is offered his dream job. Then Brady happens, and Bill must contend with being completely out of control.
I relate this to myself in that I have spent a large part of the last decade defining what it is that I want out of my life. I have figured out large chunks of it and have set myself on the path to get where I want to be. But at one point, Bill makes a speech that really touched me. It made me look at what I am doing in a different light. It made me happier about what I am doing. It made me more resolute in what I want to do. It reinforced what I am doing and how I am doing it.
Now, I am intentionally being very vague. Because if I tell you what the speech was about, or what it made me think about it will ruin large surprises in Leaves of Grass. My hope is that hearing that a movie so affected me will give you more impetus to go and watch it yourself. This movie is fantastic. It is entertaining and thought provoking. The mere fact that it combined those two things should mean that it was a huge theatrical release and lots of people saw it. Unfortunately, that is not true. So I am asking you to go see it.
Have you seen Leaves of Grass? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below.