Nothing lasts forever, not even the most important things. But sometimes, the things that are taken for granted are those that bring about the greatest changes in life, and become the most endearing throughout all adversity. As depicted in the movie The Bucket List, the lives of two ordinary, complete strangers can be changed by the smallest twist of fate imaginable, and in the process can help those individuals to reexamine what is truly vital to their lives. A person never knows how much they can live until they know the end is as close as it can be.
There is no doubt that death, and its growing imminence, can make a person think differently and even react in ways they might not have imagined possible otherwise, but in The Bucket List it is seen that the rational swiftly gives way to the irrational as both Carter and Edward must deal with the implications of the fact that they will die within months. Denial is the first obvious stage, followed swiftly, in terms of the movie, by introspection and a new outlook brought on by the realization that for all they’ve done in their lives, something is still missing. Through use of diachronic vision it can be seen that both men have come to the thought that what they thought was important has become something entirely different, giving way to priorities that at one time had slipped away and become almost irrelevant, to becoming all that they have left.
Both men come to see through their travels and adventures together that no matter how far they go, what they do, and the danger that is experienced, those priorities that were set aside for so long remain. For Edward it is the emotional loss of his daughter, suffered when he
Intervenes on her behalf to alleviate a domestic issue, while for Carter it is the issue that has come from what seems to be an empty nest syndrome, the simple act of actually “seeing” his wife for the first time without children in the house, a phenomenon that is quite normal for older parents (The Bucket List, 2007). While both men remain stubbornly resistant to the idea that they must one day face what remains unfinished and unresolved in their lives, they continue to push forward, until at last Carter discovers what he’s been missing, and just what is truly important in his life.
Trait transformation throughout this movie is rather slow and methodical in ways that make it seem almost coincidental, as both men seem to find their way only to sidestep it more than once as they seek something else that might fill the emptiness they feel. Both have developed their own personal traits throughout their lives, and have grown accustomed to their own habits and learned behaviors. But upon interaction with one another for the first, second, and every time after, they begin a transformation which, reluctantly, starts to open their eyes to the life of the other, painting a picture of their values and how resistant to change they have been up until this point. It is without a doubt Carter’s final acceptance of Edward’s proposal to fulfill their bucket list that begins the real transformation for both men, although it can be argued that Edward showing genuine interest in Carter’s list is the first and most crucial step.
As to the sociological imagining of each man, it is fair to say where Carter has a broad and vast knowledge of many things; Edward has the actual experience, but none of the awe and respect for his surroundings other than to bask in the prestige they bring. One seeks enlightenment; the other seeks only the continual envy that such wealth can bring. Combined these two characters are almost polar opposites, but are also highly complementary to one another, which allows for a pairing that makes perfect sense within the movie and within life.
In regard to aging and policy this movie showcases the struggles that are experienced with age, from being sick, terminally ill even, to finding the necessary mindset with which to accept the inevitable. There is no struggle greater than that which age presents, but in the long run no one beats the clock, and as cruel as this simple fact can be, it is necessary to at least offer some level of dignity to those who have received the same news or similar to those in the movie. As Carter would put it, he no longer stands with the four percent of people who would wish to know the exact date and time of their death (The Bucket List, 2007).
The hardships, the pain, and the rationale used within the movie are quite real, and aside from being befriended by a billionaire and taken around the world, it is important for those who have been diagnosed as terminal to understand the situation fully. There is no need for such individuals to be pitied, as it is both degrading and entirely unhelpful, not to mention undignified. No one wishes for their loved ones to see them in anything but a positive light, nor would they seek to make their family saddened by their passing. Grief is a very natural human reaction to death, but in the act of counseling and speaking to the family and the afflicted individual, it serves to better transition from one point to the next, so as to alleviate as much of the pain as is possible.
The Bucket List is a rather entertaining and even informative film, filled with wonderful sights, quotes, and outlooks upon a life that is too short once the end has come. Each character within the story reflects a part of society in that they have come to the end, have looked back upon their life, and have wanted to do more. This is just as natural as the fear of dying, and is the wish of many people who meet their end before they are ready. There is never enough time to do everything a person can think of to do it would seem, and despite any claims to the contrary, few if any have ever passed one without true regret in one form or another. It is a human trait.
The Bucket List. Dir. Rob Reiner. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, and
Beverley Todd. Warner Bros., 2007. Film.