Nothing ventured, nothing gained. When it comes to fulfilling accomplishments, fewer expressions ring truer than this, especially when we seek to do so by employing the conscious creation process (also known as the law of attraction), the means by which we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents.
But, if our beliefs are to be allowed to work their magic, they must do so without hindrance, including the interference of other beliefs. When conflicting notions compete with one another, particularly when they’re put to our divine collaborator to facilitate the materialization of our ambitions, the process can come to a grinding halt. Contradictory influences prevent anything from happening or result in distorted outcomes, in either instance a disappointment to be sure.
Among the most common belief conflicts we encounter are aspirations undercut by doubt or, especially, fear. Holding fast to a cherished outcome while simultaneously embracing a fear of that manifestation’s realization will almost assuredly prevent the goal from happening. It only makes sense, too; after all, how can we expect our divine collaborator to assist us if we send it mixed signals? It’s like saying “I want something but don’t want it” at the same time. It’s no wonder nothing happens.
This is where facing and overcoming our fears becomes so important. Indeed, purging ourselves of fear-based beliefs is essential to keep them from interfering with the materialization process. In fact, embracing beliefs that are directly opposed to fear – those related to courage and heroism – can play a vital role in achieving our objectives. Such positive influences not only eliminate potentially undermining influences, but they also infuse a high degree of confidence into the conscious creation process, acting like a supercharger to bolster the overall effort.
Given the power of these supporting influences, it’s no wonder that they play such a central role in many storyline contexts. That’s especially true in the movies, which often celebrate heroes and reward characters who successfully overcome their fears. In fact, these themes are so prevalent in motion pictures that coming up with a manageable list of representative films was quite a challenge. Nevertheless, many excellent titles reflect these ideas, inspiring viewers with their compelling narratives and dazzling cinematic spectacles.
Courageously facing down the fears associated with confronting powerful entities is a common theme in this genre. In some cases, that involves going up against oppressive governments or autocratic political factions; in others, it means taking on formidable corporate interests; and, in the most challenging of such scenarios, it means tackling both.
Films that adeptly illustrate heroic initiatives against the state include “JFK” (1991), director Oliver Stone’s chronicle of the valiant crusade by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) in challenging the Warren Commission’s official findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and his attempts to prosecute the parties he believed were truly responsible for one of the most horrendous incidents in American history; “The Front” (1976), director Martin Ritt’s semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about a cafeteria cashier (Woody Allen) who “fronts” the scripts of a blacklisted TV script writer (Michael Murphy) during the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s; and “Hotel Rwanda” (2004), the fact-based biopic of a brave hotel manager (Don Cheadle) who went out of his way to protect his guests, family and friends against the warring factions caught up in the genocidal madness of the Rwandan Civil War.
Movies that peg the Davids of the world against corporate Goliaths include “The China Syndrome” (1979), in which a nuclear power plant supervisor (Jack Lemmon) and a pair of intrepid journalists (Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas) seek to expose the safety hazards of a facility in danger of meltdown, something the plant’s owner would rather keep quiet; “The Insider” (1999), the fact-based story of the efforts of a 60 Minutes producer (Al Pacino) to air a segment about tobacco industry secrets revealed by a company whistleblower (Russell Crowe) that the popular TV news magazine initially approved but later reneged on when confronted by corporate pressures; and “The Burning Season” (1994), a made-for-cable movie about the life of Brazilian environmental activist Chico Mendes (Raul Julia) in his attempts to rein in reckless rainforest clearing by land developers.
As noted earlier, battling foes on two fronts is especially challenging, as evidenced in a trio of 2005 releases, including “The Constant Gardener,” in which a dutiful British foreign service officer (Ralph Fiennes) and his outspoken activist wife (Rachel Weisz) take on government officials and a powerful pharmaceutical company over questionable but officially sanctioned vaccine testing practices conducted on innocent Africans; “Syriana,” the multifaceted saga of a courageous CIA agent (George Clooney), a reform-oriented emir (Alexander Siddig), an influential corporate lawyer (Geoffrey Wright) and a progressively minded commodities dealer (Matt Damon) in wrangling with the politics of oil and the corrupt, self-serving practices of those who profit from them; and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” the biography of famed CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) in which he and his producer (George Clooney) endeavor to air a scathing report on the dubious government hearings conducted by Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s “Red Scare,” an undertaking resisted by their corporate bosses.
In some instances, facing fears and living courageously involves staring down the challenges posed by both public pressures and personal demons. Such is the case in “Casablanca” (1942), in which a crusty café and casino owner (Humphrey Bogart) wrestles with ghosts of his past under the scrutiny of Nazi occupying forces, pushing him to make hard choices balancing self-interest and the greater good. Similar circumstances arise in “The King’s Speech” (2010), in which a shy, stuttering prince (Colin Firth) is thrust into the role of monarch when his older brother (Guy Pearce) abdicates, a position the younger royal neither seeks nor wants, especially now that his beloved England is on the brink of war, a time when his subjects demand a leader with a strong voice to represent the interests of their country.
Sometimes our beliefs can become our own worst enemies, keeping us from becoming who we would like to be. The challenge of allowing ourselves to embrace intents that empower our hopes and dreams surfaces in a number of films. For example, in “Defending Your Life” (1991), a recently departed advertising executive (Albert Brooks) reviews his most recent incarnation before a court-like afterlife tribunal to determine whether he’s worthy of moving on to the next step of his personal evolution, especially with regard to his generosity to himself. A similar theme arises in “Romancing the Stone” (1984), in which a lonely romance novelist (Kathleen Turner) perpetually seeks the man of her dreams (not unlike the heroic swashbucklers she writes about) but to no avail – that is, until she manifests an adventure of her own, one straight out of the pages of her own books. Other movies with characters in search of comparable forms of once-repressed personal fulfillment include “An Unmarried Woman” (1978), “Sex, Lies and Videotape” (1989) and “Vertigo” (1958).
Living courageously for one’s art is a recurrent theme in a number of motion pictures, such as “Mao’s Last Dancer” (2010), a fact-based account of the defection of Chinese ballet sensation Li Cunxin (Chi Cao), who willingly gives up everything for the pursuit of artistic freedom while on a cultural exchange program in Houston. In a similar but somewhat more macabre vein, “Hitchcock” (2012) chronicles the struggle of the master auteur of suspense (Anthony Hopkins) to produce his epic scream fest, “Psycho” (1960), at a time when no studio would touch the project (a film that, ironically, would go on to become the most successful of his career).
Championing those less fortunate is certainly one of the most noble and courageous pursuits one can undertake, as evidenced in films like “Schindler’s List” (1993), the story of a wealthy, flamboyant German industrialist (Liam Neeson) who went out of his way to clandestinely place Jewish workers in his factories during World War II to keep them from becoming concentration camp victims. Activism such as this is also apparent in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), in which a soft-spoken lawyer (Gregory Peck) undertakes the defense of a black man (Brock Peters) accused of beating and raping a white woman in a small Alabama town in the 1930s.
Overwhelming odds might easily deter many of us, but those who successfully rise to the occasion end up overcoming seemingly insurmountable circumstances. One film that aptly illustrates this is “The Impossible” (2012), the inspiring story of a family whose members are quick to fright but who are catapulted into their own heroism when subjected to the ravages of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while on vacation in Thailand. Newfound personal heroism also surfaces in “Fearless” (1993), in which a plane crash survivor (Jeff Bridges) takes on previously avoided challenges, believing that, if he could survive a catastrophe that terrible, he can now successfully take on anything.
Death and disability are among the greatest fears many of us face. But, when such conditions loom, we can often effectively counter our apprehensions by choosing to embrace life in the moment. This theme pervades the touching French comedy-drama “The Intouchables” (2012), in which an affluent quadriplegic Parisian (François Cluzet) refuses to give up on life by vowing to live it as fully as possible, either on his own or through the experiences of his free-spirited caregiver (Omar Sy). The same is true in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (2015), the story of a teenager diagnosed with leukemia (Olivia Cooke) who seeks to make the most of her life with a pair of quirky pals (Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler), who must also come to terms with the potential demise of their friend. Making the most of life when the clock is running out also comes up in the sci-fi classic “Blade Runner” (1982), in which a special law enforcement officer (Harrison Ford) is assigned to track down and neutralize a renegade human-like android (Rutger Hauer) attempting to extend his pre-programmed life span by any means possible, a conflict that pits two powerful foes against one another and brings each of them face to face with their own mortality.
In the end, facing down fears and digging deep to find our inner reserves of courage are essential when we come up against our destiny. In some cases, that means confronting our own personal dark night of the soul, as seen in the underrated (and often misunderstood) science fiction thriller “Signs” (2002), in which a former pastor (Mel Gibson) who lost his faith as a result of a personal tragedy now faces an array of even greater calamities in coping with the fallout from a worldwide alien invasion. On a somewhat lighter (though nevertheless daunting) note, the quest to live out our destiny permeates the narrative of “The Walk” (2015), the biography of high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who amazed the world by traversing the space between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center – without a net – an act that epitomizes the power of belief in what can be accomplished – and in ourselves.
Whatever fears may get in our way, we ultimately must seek to get past them if we hope to realize our most cherished dreams and aspirations. Ridding ourselves of beliefs that fuel such apprehensions and embracing intents that empower us to succeed are key to this, and we’d be wise to follow these recommendations. Should we do so, though, the bogeyman will surely be vanquished, and there’s no telling what we can achieve.
Copyright © 2016, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.