Fifty years from now, high-school students (if there are any) will be writing homework assignments on this masterful film. Today, in the year 2012, viewers under 18 aren't permitted to see this R-rated film without their parents. I agree with the rating. It does portray adult themes and it is violent, but still, little is shown that young-people today don't see on the web or while playing Halo 4.
As a creative fiction writer, I think that I learned several important lessons from the film and the insightful story it tells. First, there are no limits to the way vitally important messages about humanity can be told. I expect that some might have trouble following the story-line, as it was told as if someone was weaving individual strands of people’s lives into an magnificent tapestry that transports the viewer from one era to another between heartbeats. Before long, we recognize the commonality of the threads as we lean back and see the story as a whole. It’s not just the faces of the hauntingly familiar characters that ebb and flow in the plot, like the years and ages that flash by before our eyes, it’s their common humanity or lack there-of. In each era there are those who strive and sacrifice themselves to make the world more habitable for themselves, but more importantly, for others. And there are those who would pray on the helpless, and the hapless and those who are just sitting astride the planet as if they were riding a carnival ride eating popcorn. For them, there are a number of exciting 3D chase scenes.
I also learned that this story raises the bar on writing, directing and acting. I now have a rather lofty goal to create something at least half this impactful. I hope to fold in more of these life lessons of sacrifice, generosity and courage into my future work.
Go see it. After you see it, consider taking your older sons and daughters and explain it to them or listen while others try to explain it to each other. I’ll be listening too. We all are in this together. I hope we survive.