My next post was supposed to be "PTSD--Battling Back" but occasionally I come across a "must see now" movie I have to recommend (This really fires up THEFEARMONSTER) for its lessons about overcoming fear and surviving difficult and sometimes life-threatening situations.
My movie is The Martian, adapted from the novel of the same name by Andy Weir, starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and directed by Ridley Scott who did Bladerunner , so it's already a winner. Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut member of a Mars exploration team in the near future. A sudden violent storm comes up, forcing the crew to immediately abort the mission and leave Mars, leaving Watney behind who was lost and thought to be dead.
As it turns out he's not dead and when he realizes he's been left behind, he has to figure out how to survive with a limited food supply and no communications for the next four years until a scheduled resupply mission arrives from Earth. Understanding why he was left, rather than panic and rage against his crew mates, he accepts the situation and sets about figuring out how to survive until he's rescued in four years.
Remember from an earlier post reviewing Deep Survival. Who Lives and Who Dies and Why (also on THEFEARMONSTER's banned book list) and THEFEARMONSTER and the CANYON OF DOOM about my friend Dave who survived three days and nights in a canyon with severe injuries before being rescued? Watney utilizes the same skills to survive on Mars. Among them are: accepting the reality of the situation, even using humor to stay calm. Although alone, he records every thought and steps he takes to resolve his situation so that future expeditions will know what he did should he not survive. His ongoing monologue is constantly laced with humor, even when things go bad which they do at times.
As a botanist Watney immediately assesses his situation and gets organized, plans and sets up small manageable tasks, starting out by figuring out how to grow potatoes on the harsh Martian landscape. He improvises with what he's got and solves problems. He takes correct decisive action, setting up attainable goals and short term plans to reach them.
Of course he realizes the seriousness of his situation and that the odds of survival are stacked against him, but rather than being ruled by fear, he uses it to motivate and make himself sharper, not getting trapped in too much emotion and maintaining a sense of humor about himself and his situation.
Watney celebrates his successes, however small and an important step in creating an ongoing feeling of motivation and hope. Thus he avoids falling into despair. While figuring out how to survive he's able to maintain an attitude of gratitude for being alive while also appreciating the stark beauty of the Martian landscape. The cinematography and special effects are breathtaking.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, he never gives up and always believes that he'll figure out things and solve problems no matter what obstacles or disasters he meets. His confidence in his abilities and determination to survive are unshakeable and he's willing to do whatever is necessary to live until rescued, or at least die trying. And some of what he has to do is pretty gross.
There's no spoiler alert here, you'll have to see The Martian yourself to see how it plays out. But I can say it had me on the edge of my seat right up to the end and I plan to see it again. So go see it and you'll see why THEFEARMONSTER has it on its banned movie list.
Next Time: PTSD--BATTLING BACK