What a masterpiece. A friend recommended this film – otherwise I would never have guessed that it could contain such a profound spiritual content. Back when I first saw it, it was still the days of going to a video library to rent a DVD. Placed in the Thriller category, the cover text did not give me a clue about any deeper meaning behind the story. Revolver (2005) was directed by Guy Ritchie, former husband of Madonna (2000 – 2008); Ritchie also wrote the script.
For about half an hour, it seemed to be no more than a gangster movie placed in the casino milieu. It was about loads of money, being more clever than others, about winning, there was violence …
Obvious spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie, you may want to watch it first before reading on.
Only some time into the movie there are hints as to what it is all about. A subjective perspective:
All events are initiated to the sole purpose of confronting Jake Green (Jason Statham) with his ego, to teach him the ability of distinguishing between the ego and his true self, and to finally lead him into a new kind of freedom, a freedom he didn’t even know existed.
The Lower Self: The Voice of the Ego
The voice that is commenting Green’s actions, the voice in the elevator can be associated with the ego or lower self. Green is at the mercy of this constant chatter of thoughts as long as he identifies with it. In the elevator he comes to understand that he is not identical with this voice. The Ego-Jake gradually gets more and more nervous – this is an existential threat. He tries to convince Jake-the-Observer they were one. When this doesn’t work, he tries to convince his companion they were at least best friends, and life wasn’t possible without each other. However, the more nervous Ego-Jake gets, the clearer Jake-the-Observer sees he is not one with this voice, and can do just fine without it. An incredibly powerful scene!
One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy makeup and your shawl
Won’t you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it
The Higher Self: The Powerful Casino Boss
Silencing the voice of the ego and Jake liberating himself from her control is only a stage in the process. Macha, the powerful casino boss (Ray Liotta), can also be seen as an aspect within Jake Green: his higher self (somethimes also called auric being, e. g. by the Golden Rosycross). It directs him, and this is merely possible as long as he does not see through its tricks. On the path to self-liberation, it can gradually turn into an antagonist. As long as a human is satisfied with the usual state of affairs, his habits and character traits, he may well live in harmony with the higher self. Only when the influence of the ego declines, the higher self can be questioned as well. Then the human may understand that this power is also not divine. It is revealing and well thought out in the movie how Jake Green donates piles of money in Macha’s name. Macha does not know how this came about – but this does not stop him from accepting recognition for it.
It is brilliantly depicted how Macha threatens Green with a gun. The spiritual path is not about fighting worldly powers, which manifest within oneself, at the same level at which they operate. That would only strengthen their energy. Rather, it is about self-knowledge, understanding the connections and mechanisms that guide us, and ceasing to identify with them. This way, an unearthly power is released. It is this power that overcomes all fear and subordination, and sets us free. Macha loses control over Green when the latter realizes Macha is part of himself, and confronts him fearlessly, as a neutral observer. In desperation, Macha shouts out: “Fear me!”
Finally, the higher self has lost control over Jake as well, and surrenders. Jake does not react to the threats – he does not believe in Macha’s power any more. He can pass him as if he were invisible – at least for Macha he is out of reach, untouchable. This reminds me of the gnostic scripture Pistis Sophia (see here or here), a figure who, after a deep process of inner purification and maturation, passes the aeons without being noticed. When they find out later, they cannot comprehend how this could have happened.
The Path to Liberation
Fighting Macha at his terms would be like fighting against the unreal computer beings in the Matrix. Or sitting in a movie theatre, trying to influence the characters, fearing a bad ending …
We may be reminded of a scene in the bible where Jesus rejects the seducer (Luke 4:1–13; Matthew 4:1–11 ).
A key phrase in the movie is,
The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.
“The problem, is that the ego hides in the last place you’d ever look, within itself.”Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA
For the most part of the movie, it looked as if it was about winning, being superior in a worldly sense – until it is revealed: it is about the ego. The ego is the best deceiver you can imagine.
“There is no such thing as an external enemy, no matter what that voice in your head is telling you. All perception of an enemy is a projection of the ego as the enemy.”Dr. Deepak Chopra M.D.
Powerful insight indeed in such critical times of war and terrorism. The latin term terror means scare, fright, fear – such forces prevent the true self from unfolding.
The messages Green receives in the shape of small notes are similar to the messages in the great Matrix movie, which lead Neo to Morpheus. From a certain perspective, such coincidences are not by chance: Green receives help in relation to his maturity and his openness to react to such impulses. He who does not seek and does not miss anything in this world of opposites will hardly be able to understand hints pointing to the exit.
For me, Revolver fits right in with movies like Truman Show, 13th Floor, Peaceful Warrior and, of course, Matrix.