Psychological Film Analysis of The Bucket List
After watching the film "The Bucket List" I wrote a Psychological Film analysis for the movie pointing out the major developmental themes present in the movie, the stages of Erik Erikson’s theory that were demonstrated, the major theological themes I noticed, and what drove the film.
There were three major developmental themes that I found throughout this movie. The first theme I recognized was that of self discovery. This movie is a story of self discovery through that of facing death. I believe that whenever one stares death in the face, or realizes that their death is soon approaching one will try to do all of the things one would want to do and they would look at their accomplishments in life. One would take a deep look at their self and try to find whether they are someone that they have wanted to become. I personally would want to develop myself further as a person and figure out who I truly am before my death. I saw this theme throughout the movie. Whenever Edward discovers that he truly wants to develop a relationship with his daughter and grandchild, I felt this showed a good example of self discovery.
Another main theme I found in the movie was that of friendship. Carter was an older mechanic who had sacrificed his own personal goals for a family, and his family was his life. Edward had the almost exact opposite life as that of Carter. Both of these men were place in such extreme situations and this situation is what brought them together to have such a strong friendship. Even to the end, these two men were close and affected each other’s lives and ideas. They influenced each other through their strongest personality traits and enjoyed their time together. I mean, the movie is about these two men making a bucket list together.
There was only one stage of Erikson’s displayed in the movie that I could find, which integrity versus despair was. This is the latest stage in life and usually in this stage; adults will attain wisdom and the realization that they are satisfied with their lives.
After watching this movie, one of the main major theological themes that jumped out of me was about existential philosophy. Now I am not talking about the entirety of existentialism, but the idea that one has to choose their own meaning and purpose is a factor I saw in the movie. Both Edward and Carter looked for the purpose and meanings that were already there, and the knowledge of when they would leave this world put things in perspective and was a motivator for them. This brought clarity to the most important and real values in each of their lives. I believe that it is important for us as people to truly understand how finite our lives really our and that our time here is limited. I believe that we must cherish our short lives and follow God’s will in our lives so that we can be glorifying him here and in the hereafter.
I learned a few interesting facts about late adulthood and their development. I found that marriage is not ever going to be completely perfect, no matter how many years you have been with one person. I was also surprised at how resilient both Carter and Edward were after going through chemotherapy. I always assumed that older adults were frail.
I learned from Carter Chambers that even in this stage of development there are still issues in the marital bed. Carter spoke of how over the many years of raising children together that he and his wife had become distant. Though she hadn’t changed, and he hadn’t changed they had changed. And I did like the resolution between them towards the end of the movie (Not including the ending part where he is on the ground having a seizure or spasm).
I always felt that in old age, it would be difficult to get from here to there, and that older people didn’t want to have “fun” because of their age. This movie is a good example of how false this idea is. Both Carter and Edward were full of life, even after just getting out of chemo therapy and a cancer that was eating at them from the inside out.
There were many pieces of the film that came together to create the drive of the film. The plot was a very entertaining piece in the movie: these two older men wanting to fulfill their bucket list before they ran out of time, and all of the issues that came with only having a short amount of time left. The two main characters and their personalities were enjoyable as well. They were so different, yet at the same time they complimented each other very well. One was a single, devil-may-care man who has all the money in the world, and yet has no one to share it with. He didn’t seem the type who wanted to share either. Carter was a veteran married man, who never went to college and began raising his family at a young age. He was not worldly, but very wise and knew a broad amount of collected information (Jeopardy). Carter seemed to think out his decisions before making them, while Edward was more spontaneous and flamboyant. It almost seemed that Carter became mature, and developed because of his hardworking lifestyle while Edward had stayed at an immature level because he had no family or loved ones that he shared his life with.
What spoke to me in the bucket list were many different things including marriage differences compared to the outlook of a single older-adult male, and the resolution of the movie was great as well! One marriage difference was the realization that even after being married for many years, you might not know your husband or wife as much as you wish you could after so many years. And after raising your family, you have changed and have to find out what you want now that you have no other responsibilities like you once did. Edward’s ‘single man’ outlook on life is extremely selfish and inconsiderate. Edward angered easily and threw temper tantrums because he knew that he could. My cousin, Nick, has a developmental problem where he cannot understand material taught in class and must have a specialist help him with his homework. With this problem, Nick feels he is at an advantage and can do whatever he wants outside of school. He even fell onto the ground, kicking and screaming, over a gumball at Monterrey’s Restaurant because he thought he could get the gumball through his behavior. He reminds me a lot of Edward. Edward was also rich and extravagant, but deep down he had a tender spot for his daughter and Carter. And the last piece that I felt drove the film was the resolution of the movie. How a hardened, rich old man was touched by one from the lower class, who had almost nothing, yet was happier than the rich man had ever been. Edward’s speech at Carter’s funeral showed truly how deep his caring for Carter was. They even finished the movie with how both men were both buried in coffee cans on top of the most majestic mountain.