“Carter Chambers: You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.”
Yesterday I had an idea about what to do with my students at our conversation class. I love this movie called The Bucket List. That’s one of my favorite movies ever (
maybe because I just like these type of movies where you a,ways learn something, or it’s a true-story movie). This is the story of two guys: Carter (played by Morgan Freeman) who is a mechanic. He’s got cancer and he’s in the hospital for a treatment. That’s when he meets Edward (played by Jack Nicholson), the owner of the hospital who discovers he has brain cancer. When Edward shows up in the hospital, Carter really can’t believe he’s stuck with him. As the days go by and Carter’s starts realizing he hasn’t got much of a time, he realizes that the only person who’s caring for him is Carter, and his assistant Thomas ( whose name is actually Mathew played by Sean P. Hayes). One day, Edward is watching baseball and Carter is scribbling something but he refuses himself to share it with Edward. On the other day when Thomas arrives at the hospital, he gets the paper out of the floor and Edward asks for it. When he sees it, he realizes its a Bucket List, and Carter explains it to him, about his philosophy teacher and the exercise about thinking forward. He loves the idea and this is something interesting to pay attention to: while Carter’s list has things like “see something majestic”, “help someone change to good”, Edward’s list has “skydiving”, “kissing the most beautiful girl”, “getting a tattoo” and so on. When Carter doesn’t seam so happy with the idea, Edward says the following regarding the expectations without a Bucket List:
Edward Cole: What do you think happens now? I go back and sit around listening to people talking about mezzanine financing and subordinated debt pretending that I care about dead money. You go home to some ceremonial procession into death with everyone standing around watching you die while you try to comfort them.
When Carter decides going on this crusade with Edward, his wife snaps and then Edward says:
Eduard Cole: She hates me! … Do you hate me?
Carter Chambers: Not yet.
They are friends. They are counting with each other. They know what they are going through, and they feel only they can help themselves. It’s their own personal crusades for the best moments in their lives before they kicked the bucket. When they’re in Africa they started singing The Lion King’s song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”!! And then they’re off to Egypt. There, at the top of one of the pyramids, Carter says something to Edward.
The Egypts had an old tale about the two questions asked to the dead by the gods at the entrance to heaven: Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?
Think of that yourself. What if it were about you?!? Would you be able to answer those questions positively?!? As an answer to the last question, Edward answers:
The first time he hit her, she came to me. Wouldn’t let me take care of it, said it was her fault, he’d had a rough day and too much to drink. The next time he hit her, she didn’t come to me. The ex told me about it. So I wanted to be a good father, so I took care of it. I called a guy who called a guy who called his friends, they didn’t kill him, what they did, I don’t know, but he never bothered her again, and then she said I was dead to her. So, if my daughter hates me is not going to let me in to an Egyptian heaven, I guess that’s how things are.
I loved that story, because he actually cannot answer it properly and the he just starts talking about something else. And then, after a long trip, Carter tells Edward something about coffee (which he’s addicted to)
[Carter hands Edward an article about Kopi Luwak, Edward’s favorite coffee]
Carter Chambers: Read it.
Edward Cole: [reading] Kopi Luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee. Though for some, it falls under the category of “too good to be true.” In the Sumatran village, where the beans are grown, lives a breed of wild tree cat. These cats eat the beans, digest them and then… defecate.
Edward Cole: The villagers then collect and process the stools. It is the combination of the beans and the gastric juices of the tree cat that give Kopi Luwac…
[Carter starts laughing]
Edward Cole: …its unique flavor… and aroma. You’re shitting me!
Carter Chambers: [laughing] Cats beat me to it!
[Carter and Edward both laugh hysterically]
The movie, all along, makes us rethink what we’ve been doing with our own lives, how we’re handling things and what we should change. Going to the end of the movie, that’s when tears start in the movie!! The first is when, after a fight, Carter send a letter to Edward:
Carter Chambers: [in his letter to Edward] Dear Edward, I’ve gone back and forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn’t, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren’t exactly hitting the sweetest notes-certain wasn’t the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I’m responsible and for that, I’m sorry. But in all honestly, if I had the chance, I’d do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. There’s no way I can repay you for all you’ve done for me, so rather than try, I’m just going to ask you to do something else for me-find the joy in your life. You once said you’re not everyone. Well, that’s true-you’re certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home.
Then, we have one special thing from Edward:
Edward Cole: Good afternoon. My name is Edward Cole. I don’t know what most people say at these occasions because in all honesty, I’ve tried to avoid them. The simplest thing is I loved him and I miss him. Carter and I saw the world together, which is amazing when you think that only three months ago we were complete strangers. I hope that it doesn’t sound selfish of me, but the last months of his life were the best months of mine. He saved my life, and he knew it before I did. I’m deeply proud that this man found it worth his while to know me. In the end, I think it’s safe to say that we brought some joy to one another’s lives, so one day, when I go to some final resting place, if I happen to wake up next to a certain wall with a gate, I hope that Carter’s there to vouch for me and show me the ropes on the other side.
Ad then we can get the final touch with the initial take again, up the Himalayas and then Thomas putting Carter’s and Edward’s ashes together up the mountain and the opening lines again:
Carter Chambers: Edward Perryman Cole died in May. It was a Sunday in the afternoon and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He was 81 years old. Even now, I can’t claim to understand the measure of a life, but I can tell you this: I know that when he died, his eyes were closed and his heart was open, and I’m pretty sure he was happy with his final resting place because he was buried on the mountain, and that was against the law.
What an amazing movie. What amazing performances by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. What an amazing script and direction. The Bucket List, as described by imdb
Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find joy in life.
I really don’t know why reviews haven’t been good on the movie. Of course Nicholson always has to make everything look dirty, but I congratulate Freeman on an amazing role showing how people can help others to change for good and have a real good life wi family … But that’s my opinion 😉