Life Explained in 5 Movie Scenes

This is nothing more than one idiot’s guide to life as told through 5 movie scenes. Yes, I know they’re all “guy movies” and no, you shouldn’t base your life on Hollywood. But each of these scenes depict traits or attitudes I’ve found to be important or useful through life’s trials and tribulations.


After surviving an unbelievably difficult night of fighting and miraculously making it back to the safety of the UN headquarters, Hoot is preparing to go back into the fight, leaving Eversmann in disbelief. Hoot explains that he is going back in to help bring back fallen soldiers, and that most people will never understand that.

“They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the man next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”


Yes, this speaks to the infantryman in me. But it’s more than that… we humans, for the most part, yearn to belong to something bigger than ourselves. It’s what drives a lot of us to play team sports, attracts us to social events, and fills us with patriotic pride. When you strip away all of the drama, politics, personal prejudice, and all the other bullshit… when you break life down to its most basic level, the only thing that matters is the person next to you. Granted, the heat of battle being described in this scene has a funny way of burning away all frivolities, there is no reason this attitude can’t be applied to everyday life. Celebrity gossip, Washington antics, 24 hour news hysteria- it’s all just a distraction from the important things in your life: the people right next to you. We tend to over-complicate our lives, a first world luxury. Remind yourself of what really matters. Simplify. Contribute to your community. Live for the people next to you.


After Michael confronts Moe Green about slapping his brother around, Fredo defends Moe’s actions. Michael warns Fredo never to take sides against the family.

“Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

-Michael Corleone

Don’t take this too literally. This isn’t about blind obedience to a family or a group… this is about a rapidly disappearing trait in our modern, social media driven, instant gratification society: loyalty. We’ve diluted our relationships down with such quantity and frequency that they’ve become meaningless. Friendships are just a click away. The strength of a bond is measured by digital thumbs ups and re-tweets. We’ve traded in a culture in which trust and respect are built over time for one that asks “what have you done for me lately?”

Family isn’t always defined by shared DNA. It can be a sports team, a work group, or a social group- it can include people you’ve never met. And you don’t have to love them, or even like them. But you should always support them in every way you possibly can. There is nothing wrong with your 2,000+ friends on Facebook, just don’t ever choose them over you true friends- the ones that are so close you’ve always considered them family. One friend who is willing to bail you out regardless of the situation or time of night is worth 10,000 likes on your Facebook post. Be loyal to the family.


Achilles gives his men a “pregame speech” just before they spearhead the landing on the beaches of Troy, prior to the siege of Troy.

“I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what’s waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!”


Ah, another battle quote. But, this has less to do with war and bravado than it seems. Focus on the last piece: “Take it! It’s yours!” Achilles doesn’t say “Thanks for coming out guys! Your reward for showing up is honor and fame! Here ya go! Enjoy!” Instead, he says “There it is. Take it.” And at considerable risk, to be sure.

Nothing in life will be given to you- if you want something, you have to work for it; earn it; take it. People dismiss this as common knowledge- of course you have to work hard. But there’s a difference in working hard and SEIZING opportunities. Receiving a promotion for working your ass off for is an example of hard work paying off. Receiving a promotion for standing up in a board room and saying “This project is absurd- THIS is how we SHOULD be doing it” is an example of taking what’s put before you. You have to be willing to take risks. Maybe not “storm the beaches” risk, but certainly “this crazy idea might blow up in my face” risk. Everyone dreams, but not everyone lives their dream- the difference is how far you’re willing to go to realize your dream.

Don’t let life slip past you as you wait for things to fall into your lap. Be bold. Take chances. Don’t wait for the opportunity, make your own luck. The timing will never be perfect- sometimes you just gotta roll the dice.


The professor has just finished explaining to Mike that he had been disowned by his family. Growing up the professor was expected to become a rabbi, but he had found his true calling in practicing law. Knowing the end result, Mike questions if the professor would make the same decisions.

Mike: If you had to do it all over again, knowing what would happen, would you make the same choices?
Professor : What choice? …We can’t run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us.

Sometimes being true to ourselves can come at a steep price. The professor had a choice: lie to himself and remain on the path to becoming a rabbi, or admit that he was meant for a different purpose. Even with the knowledge that it would cost him his family, the professor didn’t see this as a choice, but as an acceptance of reality. Our lives are bursting at the seams with choices- where to live, what to do, who to date, how to dress, when to eat… the beauty of living in a free country is your list of choices goes on, and on, and on. Most of them are inconsequential- what shirt you decided to wear this morning, for example, is usually not going to have major consequences in your life. But some things, like career choices and relationship decisions, will have an impact for many, many years to come. These are sometimes the difficult decisions, influenced by a tug of the heart strings or pressure to chase someone else’s dreams.

Be yourself. Make those tough choices based on who you are, not who you wish you were, or who others want you to be. Yes, sometimes that comes at a price. But we can’t run from who we are. To be truly happy and fulfilled you have to accept the reality as it is. Anything else would be to live a lie.


After surviving on a deserted island for several years, Chuck has miraculously made it back to civilization, only to learn that the love of his life has had to move on and remarry following his presumed death.


“We both had done the math. Kelly added it all up and… knew she had to let me go. I added it up, and knew that I had… lost her. Cause I was never gonna get off that island. I was gonna die there, totally alone… …And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

-Chuck Noland

This is really all you’ll ever need in life to be happy. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things seem, regardless of whatever heartache or suffering you have to endure, just keep breathing. Even when everything seems to collapse around you, you can be sure that the Earth will keep spinning, and there is simply no telling what the new day will hold.

Cheesy, right? But true. You’ve never solved any problem while freaking out. So why bother? Take a deep breath. Accept whatever shitty cards life has dealt you, and wait for the next hand. Even the biggest control freaks out there can’t control EVERYTHING in their lives, even if they think they can. There is a certain beauty to the chaos and randomness that exists in our lives- the more you can let go and appreciate it, the happier you’ll be with where you are, knowing that it could change at any second.

Simplify. Remind yourself of what really matters, and live for the people next to you. Be loyal to the family. Take chances, be bold, and size your opportunities. Be yourself- don’t run from who you are, regardless of the cost. And keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what tomorrow holds.