Stanley Kubrick ends “The Shining” with a puzzle. After Jack Torrance, its central character, dies, the audience sees a photograph of him at the Overlook Hotel in 1921. This photograph is impossible: for, in 1921, Jack was not yet born. Why is Jack in the photograph? And why is the date important?
Great movies deal with great themes. Audiences instinctively expect the greater theme to have the greatest dramatic weight. When the greater theme is not given its due, then the whole project seems disproportioned. And that seems to be what happens here. Since Tonto is the true protagonist, the audience naturally expects his story as the primary theme. That story is about the clash of civilizations.
By an overwhelming margin, professional movie critics love “The Master.” Yet a Rotten Tomatoes sample of 41,000 fans is only lukewarm. Why this disconnect? Great movies frequently enjoy a strong critical following. They also often enjoy an enthusiastic broad fan base. “The Master” clearly is not that kind of movie. Yet you will want to see it more than once. This is one of those movies that cannot be appreciated without first knowing how it ends.
However the many critics might try to dress up their varying proclamations of distaste for Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby”, what may be going on here, underneath, is that they are shooting the messenger.
“Doctor Zhivago” is a timeless movie. It is as enjoyable today as when first released in 1965, almost 50 years ago. In our quest to understand great movies, we ask why? It is easy to appreciate the craft of “Zhivago.” Competent acting, exotic locations, speeding trains, intense battles, crowds in motion, beautiful costumes, striking music, relentless story progression: “Zhivago” has it all.
Steel doors slam shut! Our hero is trapped! A few short moments ago, he was a raging tsunami of martial arts power. Now, he patiently sits. Accepting defeat. Powerless against his fate. You have never seen a hero like this. Nor had the thousands who left the theatre resolving to learn the martial arts. To improve their fate. Welcome to Enter the Dragon. One of the most motivational movies ever.