I watched Peaceful Warrior the other night. I'd overheard people
(live, at Blockbuster) give this film strong recommendations.
Members of a list I read also gave it good reviews. So I went to the
movie site and checked out the trailers. What I saw there generated
sufficient interest for me to go out and rent the DVD, which wasn't
available until recently at my local Blockbuster, due to the high
This is the story of Dan Millman, played by an upcoming young and
very athletic actor, Scott Mechlowicz. If the movie tells the story
relatively accurately, young athlete Millman in training for the
Olympics clearly has a major teacher-student agreement with a gas
station owner (played by Nick Nolte). The agreement content has to
with raising Millman's mindfulness about - everything. Who he really
is, why he does what he does, and what IT's really all about.
At the point at which Millman meets his teacher, who he cynically
dubs "Socrates," Millman is on top of the world, and at the top of
his game. He's handsome, an A student, his parents are wealthy, all
the girls want to sleep with him, and he's a formidable gymnast. Who
needs mindfulness, or more of what life has to offer, when you
already have it all?
NO ONE. Until - Life intervenes, in seemingly irrevocable ways.
Then it's time to appreciate the inner world of inner riches, while
you sift through the infinite ruins of a life that promised limitless
fame and fortune.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The teaching agreement is actually
activated prior to Millman's life-changing event, catalyzed by
chronic insomnia. He finds himself at Socrates' gas station at 3AM
one morning, where he stops to get munchies after a long run down the
highway from his house.
I found the teachings of Socrates to be straight out of Metaphysics
The movie doesn't show you how Millman gets a lot of his insights.
However, we do see him quoting them back to Socrates as if they are
sentences being read from a book, the grasp of their content yet to
Socrates' methods and manner of instructing young Millman seem rather
antiquated, and the subsequent illuminations are more than a bit
hackneyed (probably because for me this was stuff straight out of
Suffice it to say that Millman is a rather more-than-less willing
student, despite having ample reason to descend into the deepest
dregs of utter, irretrievable bitterness. Speaking of bitterness, we
don't actually see much expression of that, overall. Sure, there's
one scene where he considers ending it all, but it doesn't come off
as bitterness, or even express much as anger. I'd say there's a
significant piece of character missing here, despite that particular
scene's revelation of struggle with aspects of self. I'll also add
here that it's not the actor's fault that the script wrote him in as
a 2-dimensional figure.
The movie primarily emphasizes the odd relationship between Socrates
and Millman, and Millman's breathtaking athletic prowess. (I would
have liked to see more of this.) I didn't think the apparent strength
of the connection between Socrates and Millman was overly believable,
being primarily supported by Millman's restless intellectual
curiosity. One would think that Millman's attachment to Socrates
might have some ostensible basis in a sense of emptiness, emotional
chaos, and deep spiritual yearning, but no, the intellectual takes
stage center. Socrates' character is appropriately aloof and detached
(no love lost here), and I got the impression that the agreement was
a tad boring for him, and that he'd rather be playing his mystic guru
to more substantial forums. Additionally, Millman's changing
perceptions seem to be more the result of his prophetic dream
nightmares than what Socrates actually teaches him.
I think, however, given the state of collective public mentality, the
information in this film will be helpful to a lot of people who
aren't used to thinking or perceiving in certain ways. As we know,
the commercial film is a great teaching medium, and subjects
involving action/ athleticism/ human drama have a major draw.
Millman has written a number of books. Here are some of them:
The Warrior Athlete
Quest for the Crystal Castle
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The Life You Were Born to Live