The Hunter and Protector archetype is wonderfully characterized in the following films. Whether it be a father extending himself against incredible odds, or protecting his family against the dangers surrounding them in an often brutal world. The one common theme here is men loving and treasuring something outside themselves ~ regardless of the cost. Of course, the means will not always justify the end, however when justice, honor, integrity and freedom are the street signs being followed, you know you have an inkling you are on the right track.
Pursuit of Happiness
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a loving father trying to provide for his family. After investing his life savings in a failed portable bone density scanning venture, the basic task of paying rent and placing food on the table becomes virtually unattainable.
At a last desperate effort to rescue his family’s dire prospects, Chris undertakes the huge risk of accepting the role as an intern stockbroker, a role that provides no income and offers only one job for the numerous applicants. Chris is faced with countless challenges and setbacks, both financially and emotionally. This was no more evident than when he is forced to reside in the bathroom of a subway station with his son. Against all odds Chris never gives up hope, never complains to his co-workers or compromise his role as a mentor in his son’s life. He is a protector for his son and a hunter for happiness, which he graciously and deservedly achieves in the end.
Over the years we have had many debates with friends who describe this story as depressing. Personally, we can only find it moving and inspiring. Chris Gardner’s story is one that explores to what lengths a father will go, to provide for his family. The thing MSP admire most about this story is, despite his bleak prospects and overwhelming hardship, Chris maintains his self dignity and never compromises his integrity both in the workforce or as a father.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a former CIA operative who leaves that life behind him in an effort to build a closer relationship with his daughter Kim.
Bryan, believing his daughter is too young to travel internationally, begrudgingly approves her to go with a friend, after pressure from his ex-wife. Bryan’s worst fears become a reality when Kim and her friend are both abducted by the Albanian Mafia who target young girls and exploit them as prostitutes. Bryan immediately travels to Paris and uses all the skills acquired in the CIA to rescue his daughter, knowing full-well he has only a narrow window of time to succeed. Bryan’s determination, courage and tenacity to hunt down the perpetrators and protect his daughter is unquestionable and inspiring.
With one of the most memorable movie phone conversations at the beginning the film, when Bryan gives them fair warning to release his daughter and they reply, “good luck,” you know its game on!
Taken examines the fundamental and primal instinct of a father protecting his child from the dangers of the world. Like a lion protecting his cub, you don’t want to get in his way. At risk of sounding like an all too familiar movie trailer, ‘he will risk everything.’ Men have an internal switch, whether consciously known or not, to protect those that they love. When someone, family or friend, comrade or child, has their safety or life threatened by injustice, a male’s instinct and protective nature is ignited and unstoppable when in full motion. The only difference is this, is the unstoppable power actioned with an educated approach or is it done so with uncontrollable anger. This defines a man.
Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a former soldier of the French and Indian war now finds himself entangled in another war, the American Revolution. However, unlike his previous involvement, this time he is a widower raising and protecting seven children. Despite Benjamin’s dark and violent war history, he exerts all his efforts to calm the locals and evert conflict by voting against the support of the Continental Army.
Only when his eldest son Gabriel is captured to be executed for being a spy and his other son Thomas is shot attempting to free him, is Benjamin compelled to take up arms to protect his family.
Benjamin is a man who had first hand experience of the atrocities of war and understands the terrible acts it can make men do. This was not the environment he wished to raise his family. It is only when the family unit is fractured by violence and death that a father will risk all to save what he treasures most.
Not only does Benjamin fight for the safety of his family, he fights for his and other families right to reclaim their freedom. A very Braveheart thing to do. Same theme, different time, different uniform.
What does the Patriot mean?
We see patriots in business, in government and in defense forces. But when we see the cause to which they are defending fail them, a defender will refocus his patriotism to another cause, and this is usually his family whether it be ‘blood’ or bond.
James Braddock is an Irish-American boxer struggling to support his family during the great depression. After badly breaking his hand in the ring, James is forced to give up boxing and get whatever work he can laboring, however there simply isn’t enough available to make ends meet.
When an opportunity presents itself, James returns to the ring and against all odds to defeat his more fancied opponents. This success ultimately creates the chance of a lifetime, a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world, a fight he is clearly not expected to win.
Something other than flesh and technique inspires the most unlikely of victories. Not only does James Braddock become a symbol of hope for his many fans struggling to endure hard times in the depression, he is also a fine example of how a father can overcome unbelievable odds and fight to provide for his family and ensure their futures.
This is a story of a man, a husband and father who extends himself beyond all reasonable expectation. A real triumph of the spirit over brute strength. That fighting for loved ones is a far greater power than merely fighting for ones own personal glory.
Shane is a drifter who accepts a job as a farmhand to some simple homesteaders in a small community in Wyoming. Before long Shane becomes drawn into an ongoing conflict between the homesteaders and the powerful, brutal cattle owner Rufus Ryker, who desires to acquire the land they occupy.
It quickly becomes apparent Shane is a talented gunslinger and the only one with the prowess and courage to stand up to the bulling tactics of Rufus.
Shane was a guy who could easily have kept on walking and not get involved in a strangers fight. Yet his desire for justice and to protect the innocent against the powerful and greedy, compelled Shane to hold his ground and make a stance. Without any concern for his own safety, Shane fights and protects the underdog, the downtrodden. This is the very kind of mojo that could be injected into the odd politician or two. Wouldn’t that make a welcome change!
The Last Samurai
Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is a disenchanted, alcoholic former United states captain who is struggling to comes to terms with his experiences of war.
After losing his job in a traveling gun show, Algren accepts a job in Japan to train the Imperial Japanese army the western style of fighting as they attempt to suppress an insurrection by the Samurai, who oppose the modernization of Japan.
Algren’s ill-equipped and under-trained army engage the Samurai, led by Katsumoto, but fail miserably. Algren fights courageously, but is captured and taken back to the samurai village, where he recovers in the home of one of the samurai he killed in battle; Katsumoto’s brother in law.
Algren begins to assimilate with village life and learns the ways of the Samurai. For the first time in his life, he discovers peace within himself and in the end fights his own army to protect his new community and family.
The Last Samurai, like Dances with Wolves and Avatar, explores the fears we have on what we don’t understand. From the outside we see something different and seek to destroy it. However once knowledge and understanding evolve, a true appreciation and respect ensues, hence the willingness and desire to risk ones life to protect it.
This is an old and well worn story, but it’s also a good one and all the above mentioned movies are excellent. The lessons learnt from them are valuable and inspirational in promoting tolerance and acceptance in society. What more could you ask for, from your movie dollar?
Cheers, Mikey J.