Last night I saw the Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix, Andre Gregory movie, Mosquito Coast, the second time. It was made from a novel by Paul Theroux. I'd seen it several years ago, took it for a simplistic Hollywood allegory and dismissed it. Seeing it last night was by chance more than choice. From the very first scenes it caught my attention, had me thinking I totally missed it first time around. It is self that has changed, not the film. I got the allegory first time, but missed the subtleties that fleshed out the allegory. Ford's character was an American man, a liberal democrat in the time of the novel's writing, in our time today a Teabagger republican. They're both the same at the off-the-deep-end Xtreme. Ever-thang's wrong, aint nothin right. Ford's character had a brilliant mind; he was an obsessive inventor with a passion for fixing things. At the time of the story, he had become obsessive over all that doesn't work in America. He saw dark clouds on the political horizon. He decided to leave the country where nothing works very well anymore, where tv has zombified the population, unable to accept or allow circumstances and others to be what they are. He wanted to be in control, because he knew the right way. His wife, Helen Mirren, became an enabler standing by her man, bearing with his never-ending projects. River Phoenix, his boy, looked up to his dad and became his partner in the projects. The whole family went with him when he decided to leave the country and start over someplace else where he could do it his way.
river phoenix and harrison ford
Their boat took them to the Atlantic coast of Central America, presumably following the chance of water currents to guide them. They found a river and went upriver. It's tropical jungle. The film's theme is going upriver. Ford's character is a thinking man, who, alas, thinks too much. Throughout the story, the hearts of wife and kids want to let go and flow downstream to the ocean and go back home to northern Georgia. He wants to be going upstream. He is a man operating a bulldozer instead of a canoe. His life is an ongoing struggle, which the people around him suffer from, because he never lets up. He is the kind of character who gets in your face when he talks, attempting to convince you he knows more than you do. He sees everything that's wrong with the world. When he left America, he became America. I thought of a spiritual truth I'd learned many years ago, you become what you hate. He left America, hating it, went out to the unimproved world and became America. He called the black people there savages. He wore his family out, and everybody around him. Then the real world of Central American rebels appeared, and from there on his creation self-destructed. He set fire to Andre Gregory's church, and Andre Gregory shot him down, allowing wife and kids to enter the flow and go with it downstream to the sea and to home.
I saw myself in the story and several particular people I know. Theroux caught the American mind using the fingers of both hands. He caught it like one of those great pass receptions we see about once a year on tv football where the runner leaps into the air as high as he can go, arms extended all the way, hands snatch the ball out of the air. In the microcosm of one man, Ford acted out American history in allegory, thus became America created by his particularly American self-unaware temperament with control issues. An unselfconscious ego and a brilliant mind with little room for heart gives a pretty good description of the American personality in the world of nations. It's testosterone mind that has ruled our government and culture from the beginning that evolved to the War on Drugs (war on the American people), excess border patrol, Faux news and police state. According to Theroux's vision, the self-centered domination of all around Ford's character, by this time America itself, constructs a skyscraper of cards. A breeze of popular rebellion blows through; the attempt to shut down the rebellion sets off a chain-reaction imploding the skyscraper of cards, and shutting down that old testosterone domination, the patriarchy. Wife and kids, the people who live by heart, the greater portion of the population, can now go with their flow and return home to Georgia.
harrison ford, river phoenix, helen mirren
I hear Ray Charles singing "Georgia on my mind." Georgia, the place in the heart they left and returned to, patriarchal ego mind lost along the journey, defeated by itself. He was so obsessed with what was wrong that by the end what was wrong in himself brought him down, setting everybody around him free to return to living by the heart after a bad experience with mind in control. Theroux showed the progression from thought to action, from hating to becoming what you hate. I am glad I learned about becoming what I hate. That shut down hate in me. I used to laugh inside when I'd hear somebody truly racist on a rant, picturing him a black baby in a black teenage girl's arms living with her mama, had to quit school. I don't want to hate a right-wing Teabagger republican, despite seeing what they're doing to my country, because I don't want to be like them. I don't want to hate Rush Limbaugh's mind, because I don't want to become like his mind. I can't hate somebody for being a snitch emeffer, because I don't want to become a snitch emeffer. I don't want to hate Ted Nugent because I don't want to be Ted Nugent, for the same reasons I can't hate Dick Cheney, W Bush, Reagan, because I don't want to be like them. I don't want that mind, so I don't hate it. I can't hate somebody I know to be a low down slime ball. I can't hate somebody who has sex with a child. I don't want any of that kind of thinking for myself. Because I can't hate a racist, for example, the feeling changes to sorrow for the person with a particular affliction I don't want. I figure they don't want it either, but it's stuck to them and they can't help it. I don't want that, so I don't hate it. Accept and allow seems to be the way to go with the flow and not worry about the mind stuff.
river phoenix and Martha Plimpton