Saturday, August 16, 2008

Abre los ojos

I watched Abre los ojos by Alejandro Amenábar recently and have not seen Vanilla Sky which is apparently inspired by this movie. The story is a complex mix of fact and fiction, dream and illusion; how what we desire in life is often very far away from what we end up getting even after having the received the gift of exercising free will as the hero César does in Amenábar's movie. He is allowed to select the cast of characters in his life, where and how he will live it and yet he ends up in pretty shabby shape. He feels just as (if not more) trapped in his circumstances than the rest of us.

He is often able to see the future, but does not heed warnings when he should or even recognize them for what they are. Likewise there are lessons from his past that come back to him when he needs them most but he lacks the clarity of vision to learn what he must from them. While César's story belongs squarely in the realm of science fiction, there are a lot of parallels between his life and ours. Like him,we have our judgment clouded by fear and anger, we are trapped by what we wish but lack the power to change or choose what we wish for. We get our second and third chances but end up making new mistakes even if don't repeat the old ones.

Watching Abre los ojos is like solving a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with a treasure hunt element thrown in but is also quite a moving experience. It brings home the sobering realization that we are not the victims of a life scripted by an unseen, unknown hand. Were we allowed to make up our own we would not fare any better - there are just too many forks along the road, too many temptations to give in to the moment without thinking through the consequences.

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