Life is filled with surprises. Some large. Some small.
Last night was one of the smaller delights.
My friend Jordan suggested that we watch a movie. The Next Three Days. A 2010 release.
It was new to me. But that is not surprising. I do not get to see many trailers in Mexico where I have no television and where I get to the cinema about twice a year.
The description sounded as if it could be an interesting diversion for the evening. “With no legal means left to him, a community college instructor devises a daring plan to rescue his imprisoned wife from jail.”
I thought it was going to be another jail break film opening with the break and the subsequent car chases and fist fights that make up most films of the genre. But I was really wrong.
It is a film about character development. In this case, how a husband (Russell Crowe), who believes so strongly in the innocence of his wife that he will not allow a rational legal system that results in lies to destroy his (or her) life.
If you notice a whiff of Miguel Cervantes in the air, you know exactly what this script is about. Dulcinea is in distress. And the screenwrights tip their hand early on when the husband decides to take action.
In a lecture to his class on Don Quixote, he tells us not only what Don Quixote means, but what this film is all about:
The Life and Times of Don Quixote. What is it about?
Could it be about how rational thought destroys your soul? Could it be about the triumph of irrationality, and the power that's in it?
You know, we spend a lot of time trying to organize the world. We build clocks and calendars. And we try to predict the weather. What part of our life is truly under our control?
What if we choose to exist in a reality of our own making? Does that render us insane? If it does, isn't that better than a life of despair?
Anyone who has lived in Mexico (or southern Europe) knows why Don Quixote is the quintessential Spanish novel and why the English love the rationality of Milton and Locke. (I have no idea where Barbara Cartland falls in that mix.)
For three years I have been trying to find some documentary proof of a connection between the name of our central village (San Patricio) and veterans of the San Patricio Battalion of the Mexican-American war. I find all kinds of people who believe there is a connection, but they have no evidence. Whenever I ask why they believe it, the most common answer is: “Because I want to believe it is so.”
Whether the strain comes from the Spanish or the various Indian cultures, Mexico comfortably “exists in a reality of its own making.” Comfortable with the delight of living in Don Quixote’s rusty armor -- and ignoring the “realism” of the Knight of the Mirrors.