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Lions Roar : May 2016
abides—very Zen—or The Dude is not in—classic Zen—or Donny, you’re out of your element, or That rug really tied the room together. It’s loaded with ’em.” Now, my buddy Bernie is a Zen mas- ter himself, and he convinced me that The Big Lebowski has a Buddhist theme. In fact, we wrote a book about it called The Dude and The Zen Master (a por- tion of my answer to this question is ripped off from the intro to that book). So, yeah, my favorite movie with a Buddhist theme? Gotta say, The Big Lebowski. But, as the Dude might say, “That’s just my opinion, man.” Although many people think he is The Dude, JEFF BRIDGES is actually a multitalented actor, singer, photographer, and activist. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Crazy Heart. David Grubin A Man Escaped directed by Robert Bresson (1956) A Man Escaped, Robert Bresson’s film about a French Resistance soldier sen- tenced to death who escapes from an impregnable Nazi prison, may seem like an odd choice. After all, the second part of its title, “The Wind Blows Where It Wishes,” comes from the Gospel Accord- ing to John and the soundtrack features Mozart’s ‘Mass in C Minor.” Its narrative, the ostensibly predictable story of a prison break, promises more dramatic tension than it does illumination. But Bresson has something else in mind. Surprisingly, A Man Escaped is a spiritual film, decidedly Christian—unless you see it through a Buddhist lens. Although the soldier’s situation is dire, he does not give way to despair. He is an inspiring presence, forging bonds with his prison mates through small, often perilous gestures. But it is his disciplined efforts to escape that parallel the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment. He intently studies his austere cell—the iron spoon, the wood paneling on the door, the bedsprings—and the prison walls beyond. He plans methodically, deliberately, bringing his full attention to the smallest detail, and then... Without giving away the ending, I can write that it reminds me of the story of the young Buddhist monk who sees a wiser, older monk across a wide river. Desperately wanting to reach the wise man on the far bank, the young monk calls out, “How can I get to the other side?” The older monk responds, “You are on the other side.” DAVID GRUBIN is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films include The Buddha, The Jewish Americans, R.F.K., and The Secret Life of the Brain. The Dude abides: Reality and our opinions about reality are two different things. A Man Escaped: Like the Buddha, a disciplined quest for freedom. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2016 49