Character Development

[Summary: Richard Rubacher, who is presenting the WBU talk this month (Sun 2 Mar) spills some insider information on the process of Hollywood scripting. Talk will be entitled ‘Hollywood and the Buddha’]

Hollywood & the Buddha-detailed info


Richard Rubacher

Three things happen to a person in a character-driven film.

  • The ego is tamed and the person changes for the better. Examples are As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson and Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman.
  • The ago changes for the worse; disastrous consequences are a result. Examples: Helter Skelter, Cookoo’s Nest and Thelma & Louise.
  • Sometimes there is no ego change. The character has not learned his/her lesson; misery and suffering continue. Examples: The Aviator, Election and Carnal Knowledge.  

In my presentation on Sunday, March 2nd, several character-driven films are discussed. The Buddha’s penetrating insights on personality development are captured in his thoughts given to monks:

I know not of any single thing that brings such woe as the mind that is untamed.
I know not of any single thing that brings such bliss as the mind that is tamed.

Here is a partial list of character flaws, personality quirks, foibles and inner demons:

If only he knew how negative he is

She would be happier if she wasn’t a control freak.
How can the ice queen melt?
He’s not a team player.
Too judgmental.
Too trusting.
Doesn’t trust anyone.
Too belligerent.
Too bossy.
Overly confident
He would accomplish more if he weren’t afraid of criticism.
What arrogance.
Cuts people down with his insensitive remarks.
Has to stop holding that grudge.
Doesn’t think before he speaks.
No clue what ails him.
Poor impulse control.

The list is endless.  Others (teachers, coaches, friends, employers, co-workers, husbands/wives, etc) see our shortcomings before we do. Some, like Udall, have multiple foibles that need taming.
In the presentation a scene from As Good As It Gets will be performed by three Little Bangkok Sangha members. After the scene we will check how many foibles, inner demons and quirks are exhibited by Udall (Jack Nicholson). One Hollywood insider commented that only Jack Nicholson could have successfully played a man who has so much hatred for his fellow man, woman and animals. This was the teaser for As Good As It Gets:

It took a gay artist, a black dude, a dog, Jews, a sick child and a woman to make me a better person.

Jack Nicholson won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Helen Hunt won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance.
 The film that gets the most attention in “Hollywood & the Buddha” is Forrest Gump. Here is one of the quotes in this film that won six Academy Awards:

Jenny Curran (his childhood girlfriend): Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?
Forrest Gump: Who I’m gonna be?
Jenny Curran: Yeah.
Forrest Gump: Aren’t-aren’t I going to be me? 

 Several deep meanings will be discussed in this remarkable comment by a “simpleton.”
“Movies as medicine” and “Why we see movies’ are part of Sunday’s agenda.
See you Sunday. Free coffee and cakes are served after the talk.


About Cittasamvaro

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One Response to Character Development

  1. Cittasamvaro says:

    We studied Forest Gump at University in the Psychology course. It was proposed as an arguement for Gestalt Psychology (not to be confused with Gestalt perception) – which maintains that different schools of psychology are appropriate in different circumstances.
    Thus his ready forgiveness of past transgressions relates to Freudian analysis.
    ‘love is as love does’ to cognitive behavioural therapy (does not matter how you percieve, it matters what you do)
    We even find Zen in there – When I run, I just run. When I sleep I just sleep – is a Zen saying (when I’m hungry I eat, When I am cold I put on a shirt)
    We see in the final scene the school bus leave with the sentence “Bus for all Schools” which emphasises the Gestalt position of using the wisdom of all schools of religion and psychology rather than any one exclusively.

    Forrest Gump is rich in insight at many levels … full of snippets of wisdom. Lets try and have a showing of it for the group sometime soon. I can maybe invite our old Psy professor along too – she had a lot of insight into this movie.

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