Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cinema as Philosopher

This week's insight comes from last night's movie. We saw the Coen Brother's Excellent new film, "No Country for Old Men". In it, Javier Bardem does a phenomenal job of playing an intense, recalcitrant, violent, mad man out for drugs and money. Tommy Lee Jones, whose role is introspective, thoughtful and restrained, having spent his career seeking law, order, calm and peace, at one point makes the keen observation: "Sometimes you just can't solve every dispute. In those cases, the best you can do is put a tourniquet on the wound and let it go."

I won't spoil the movie for you, because I do highly recommend it...but there was certainly a metaphoric lesson for mediators there. It particularly struck me because a case I tried to mediate was "settled" this week by the court granting a Motion for Summary Judgment. Whereas I had an offer of a "tourniquet" (far below the actual medical specials, but at least a gesture of good faith by a defendant who earnestly believed it had no legal exposure), the parties chose instead to try to solve the dispute by taking their best shot before a Judge. Amongst "old men" perhaps, there are enough ups and downs that this particular case didn't strike as hard as it did for the minor Plaintiff and his family...but for me, the two were inextricably related and ultimately made me appreciate the philosophy of the cinema in order to put things into perspective.

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