“What’s the matter with you guys? This was never about the money, this was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human sprit is still alive…” Bodhi – Point Break, 1991
Sometimes my little brain comes up with stuff that even makes me wonder… 😉
The other day I somehow wound up taking quite the random mental detour, and somehow coming out on the other side of it all suddenly marveling at how the low-brow Keanu/Swayze movie “Point Break” in fact possibly contained a very heavy gnostic message. Although, as time goes on, I’m realizing that such a thing isn’t much of a statement anymore, because honestly, it could almost be argued that virtually every film put out by Hollywood contains a gnostic message of one form or another, some being simply much more overt than others.
But with Point Break, I have to say is a film that I honestly have to admit never occurred to me as one having much in the way of “hidden messaging”, and now that we’re here in 2015 and awaiting a remake of the film this coming Christmas, 24 years after the original movie, (seriously? Are there ANY movies they aren’t going to decide to remake…?) it seems like a decent enough excuse to write down my musings here on some thematic elements in the original “classic” that I had never before considered.
It’s pretty straight-forward, really. The film follows the path of “Johnny Utah” (Reeves) as he goes from an “All-American”, football-playing, FBI agent, dedicated to busting bad guys and being a faithful servant of the “system”, to eventually leaving it all behind to embrace surfing as the medium through which is sought a more meaningful and spiritually-defined existence. The main force responsible for this sweeping change is the character “Bodhi” (Swayze) who of course is the leader of the ex-presidents and sort of the “spiritual leader” of both the original group, and becomes a sort of mentor to Utah, who at first is merely trying to infiltrate the gang by posing as a surfer.
Okay, so some key thematic items to note. The “ex-presidents” motif is itself quite interesting, as I started to think about how on several levels it could be thought to represent both statements about the whole usury-centered banking system, and the fact that it is inseparable from the government as a whole, including the office of the president, so there is a very interesting play on the whole idea of presidentially-masked bank robbers, and how the system itself is made up of presidential leaders who are just puppets of the bankers, who are very much robbing everyone. It’s a very thought-provoking possible way of alluding to the central-banking cabal, if you think about it.
But then, the “ex-presidents” are also all about “fighting the system”. The quote at the top of this article is one that stuck out to me, even as a young person seeing it for the very first time. Through Bodhi we actually see a very familiar gnostic theme of “hero/anti-hero confusion”, where the traditional concepts of “good and evil” are turned upside-down and sideways, so that by the end of the story, it’s not at all as “black and white” as the audience, or the main character, first believed…
We see this demonstrated by things such as how Bodhi is on the one hand a pretty dangerous, violent guy, who on the one hand robs banks and eventually kidnaps Johnny’s girlfriend who is almost murdered per Bodhi’s orders. But in the final scene of the film, Utah has Bodhi captured, tracking him down at Bell’s Beach Australia during the “50 year storm”, and finally manages to handcuff in the shallow beach break. Instead of bringing Bodhi in, he lets him go, to die in the massive waves, and then Johnny himself hurls his FBI badge into the ocean, signifying his complete rejection of the system and life he once believed in…
So from the standpoint of that scene in particular, I realized that it very much embodies the whole meme of the “spirituality-seeking Truther”. The New-Age-influenced activist against the “corrupt system” .
If surfing is seen as a metaphor for New Age spiritualism, then suddenly the movie takes on a very different feel than it’s surface-level, testosterone-heavy appearance.
The “Point Break”, or “breaking point”, is then seen to be about the point at which a person loses their confidence and faith in the values of the “system”, in the rampant consumerism, the nationalistic compliance, the status quo. Many “Truthers”, whether of a more New Age spiritual vein or otherwise, often speak about the “waking up point”, something that can be likened by many to the idea of “enlightenment”, which is of course the whole goal of New Age practice and beliefs. Not to mention, the name “Bodhi” itself is a very transparent allusion to the “Bodhi Tree” of Buddhism, which Buddha supposedly sat under when he gained enlightenment.
When Bodhi surrenders himself to the waves in one final suicidal ride, it could be seen as representative of the notion of monism, becoming “one with the whole”, a final transcendent action through which he chooses to become “one with nature”, instead of facing the prospect of standing before a Judge for his crimes. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more striking allegory for the philosophical choice being made when a person chooses the “freedom” promised by the idea of gnostic transcendence, as opposed to the archaic notion of a God who ultimately judges everyone from His Throne. Like almost every other instance where Gnosticism is embedded into entertainment, it is done in a manner than is cleverly twisted around to make it seem quite appealing, to where the viewer is meant to find themselves at the end willing to question the pre-supposed sense of morality they might have held at the beginning, to bring them, willingly, to their own inner point of “breaking away” from the perceived confines of oppressive and uncompassionate rules…
It will be interesting to see if the remake contains the same types of themes, (my guess is that it almost certainly will), though I don’t think I could even bring myself to watch it. What are they going to remake next? Goonies? E.T.?