If you watched the movie Reservoir Dogs and recall Mr Blue then you might know he was played by writer, actor and ex con Edward Bunker. Bunker retooled the Akira Kurosawa script for the movie Runaway Train about two cons hiding abroad an out of control train speeding through Alaska. Jon Voight does an incredible job playing the character Manny; a tough man who shuns the world and wants revenge on the warden for making his time in the pen difficult. The final scene of the movie is powerful.
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Manny breaks the link on the main engine and allows the other riders the chance to live while he surely chooses to die. He climbs onto the main engine’s rooftop. He waves goodbye and rides to his death. The warden is handcuffed within the racing block of iron. Smoke billows from the engine, cold air and rushing snow presses upon his grimacing face. His arms are outstretched. He surfs into seeming oblivion. Angelic voices sing eerily from the soundtrack. The movie closes with an on-screen quote from William Shakespeare’s Richard III: “No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.” “But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” What kind of man is this? An animal as the warden calls Manny or is he a man, a true human being? The film goes dark.
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Perhaps Bunker penned a silly fantasy about a con who dies gloriously while killing a warden or perhaps the simple allegory is really deeper than one surmises. One man loses his freedom while another man in dying gains his. Like the story or not, like the con or not, in every man is the seemingly indistinguishable light of life we all hold within us. Intense circumstances reveal the size of each man’s spark and his pain can sometimes illuminate what seems absent and it is the fuel to set it off. Today my friends choose to live, for a second die to your meaningless ambitions and ponder for a minute the value of having freedom. Let the spark of life become an inferno for others to see. Go out and grab more of it.
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