BAGGER VANCE CHARACTERS BASED ON A HINDU EPIC POEM
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001
From: Steve Fridsma
Hi, David -
This potential spoiler may shed more light on the question of "Who is Bagger Vance?" I recently read a story which quoted author Steven Pressfield explaining that the two main characters are derived from a Hindu epic poem the "Bhagavad-Gita" (sort of an "Odyssey" or "Ilead" for India) considered "the great epic of India." http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita/bg-eg-hp.htm
In a paraphrase of the poem by William Q. Judge, the subtitle of the Bhagavad-Gita would translate into English:
"The Holy Song of God Himself, who, at the beginning of Kali yuga or the dark age, descended upon earth to aid and instruct Man."
In the epic, avatar "Bhagavan Lord Krishna" leads and guides a young follower named "Arjuna" and explains the mysteries of war and life, declaring that he will "feed the lamp of spiritual wisdom." I may be reaching, but it's interesting that some of the key scenes of transformation for Hardy and Junuh involve lamps. The first chapter of this document is translated, "The Despondency of Arjuna." which pretty much describes Rannulph Junuh when Bagger Vance comes on the scene. I read a bit of the poem and a bit of commentary.
Bhagavan = "Bagger Vance" = Supreme Personality
Arjuna = "R. Junuh" = Follower
The names are uncannily similar and are an obvious reference.
At first, discovering this connection disappointed me as a Christian, having strongly sensed the person of Jesus Christ in the character Bagger Vance. This revelation may disappoint some of your Christian readers.
But I came to realize that just because the author may not have intended to depict Jesus specifically, God is certainly there, despite perhaps coming around to it from another direction. All truth is God's truth! Who do we claim "descended upon earth to aid and instruct humankind" who "is right there beside us and has always been there" who "feeds the lamp of our spiritual wisdom" who "desires for us to find our one true authentic swing", our God-destinies, and who is present when we are absent from our bodies? So, to me, it is still Bagger Vance reflecting the Holy Spirit and the way He reaches out to us: sometimes nagging, sometimes playful, sometimes gripping, sometimes nudging, sometimes direct, sometimes permissive, sometimes urgent, sometimes patient, always loving and wise.
The Culture Code
Subject: Legend of Bagger Vance
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001
From: Paul Sullivan
Hi, I read your review and I guess each of us can manipulate Bagger Vance into what we will. Most of the people I spoke to that had seen the movie could not quite put a handle on him. I, however, read the book first. I have a different picture of Bagger. While the book portrays him as an etheral, caring, and intelligent being; he is far from God. This book was deffinatley written by a secular Author with his own versions of heaven and hell. Good book, and good movie. Nonetheless I find no "Christian" connection.
Response: You say, he is "an ethereal, caring, and intelligent being" and yet you "find no Christian connection." Well, okay. Whatever. Thank you for contribution. Story speaks differently to each person And that is the power of story. Story even transcends the author and his/her intention. Story intersects each listener at different points. -David
From Silke Force: Many of the comments from readers have dwelt on the fact that the film is based on a story that is a deliberate re-telling of a two-thousand-year-old Hindu Epic poem and have criticized the Christian analysis offered here.
Although David's review focuses on a Christian interpretation, it is not an invalid reading, just one that is based on a different theology from that of the original writers'. I personally believe in a compassionate God, and that means that I believe that God cannot have revealed himself and the message of salvation in only one way to only one small group of people. In fact, we are all only capable of perceiving the divine based on our social and cultural upbringing.
God is greater than the boxes that we use to define Him/Her and we need to keep our minds open to receiving His message. As children, we understand the message through simple stories; when we grow up, we put away childish things and understand the message in another way. In this story, Rannulph Junnah was able to understand the message of salvation through the medium of golf. In the original story, Arjunah understood the message through the channel of the battlefield. How fortunate we are that the message still comes through ---- as long as we keep our eyes and ears open.
MORE THAN GOLF AND ROMANCE
Date: Sat, 5 May 2001
From: Trey Harris New Orleans, LA
I know I am way behind, but just saw Bagger Vance on video. Thought the movie could have done a lot more with either golf or romance didn't do enough with either. However there were many preachable moments. Your review left out one of the most powerful. When Junuh hits a shot into the woods and goes into a flash back and Bagger tells him to lay his burden down, in my opinion, is the most powerful scene in the movie.
This is what God invites us all to do: "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light." (Matthew 11:29-30 NLT)
Peace and Grace,
Trey Harris New Orleans, LA
VANCE AS GOD
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001
From: Dianne Astle
I wondered if I was out to lunch when I saw Bagger Vance as representing God. Your web site has been a useful one when a movie has spoken to me and I think it has sermon potential. This one will certainly spice up a sermon.
Thanks. Dianne Astle
EVALUATION OF BAGGER VANCE
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001
I liked this movie very, very much; however, I wasn't really sure why. I am a golfer and I actually got a few useful tips on playing that I employed (i.e. visualizing the panorama of a shot and "feeling the putter to the point of impact, etc.). However, once I read this review, I realized how many implications I had missed. I loved the movie for its cinematic elements; wonderful vistas, tight close-ups on the action; the relationships between Hagen, Jones and Randullph as sportsmen who supported each other's efforts were all very attractive. Looking at this thematically as the visitation of God into our lives as one who leads us back to find ourselves had simply not occured to me. Now, I need to see this movie again. Thanks for a great insight to enjoying this film again.
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Cindy Florence, MS
This has to be one of the best movies Robert Redford has ever produced! My husband and I took our teenage daughter (because of the hormone thing) and the three of us came out completely moved. If you dig deep into your soul, God finds a way to touch each one of us in completely different ways. He opened our eyes to the majesty that the "course of life" holds and that we should never take it for granted!
Cindy Florence, MS
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000
I found this film to be a disappointment. It did indeed have some good messages, but I do not believe they were artfully delivered and came across contrived rather than inspired.