What is the meaning of life? This, and the theme of death, has been the subject for discussion among a group of seniors that I meet on a regular basis. This movie, which I first watched in 2007, came up for mention more than a couple of times, so I decided to borrow the DVD to watch it again.
A billionaire (played by Jack Nicholson) and a mechanic (played by Morgan Freeman) are cancer-ward roommates. They decide that since they only live once, they want to go out in style. They compose a bucket list – things to do before kicking the bucket.
Freeman’s character remarks that a thousand people were asked in a survey if they wanted to know the exact day of their death and 96% said no, but he was one of the other 4% as he thought it would be liberating knowing how much time he had left to work with, but as it turns out (now that his cancer means he has only 6 months left) it’s not. Since he is now pretty much “out of options”, he starts scribbling his bucket list which he subsequently crumples into a ball and discards but is picked up by his roommate who wonders what it is, and then adds to it. They both leave the hospital to embark on this journey.
Some of the items in the list include *witnessing something majestic, *going out with guns blazing, *skydiving, *driving on a racetrack (where one of them says “We live and we die. And the wheels of the car goes round and round”), *getting a tattoo, *laugh till I cry and *kissing the most beautiful girl in the world (which turns out to be Nicholson’s estranged granddaughter). They visit places like France (and songs like Edith Piaf’s Milord and La Vie En Rose are heard), the open safari in Afica (where we hear the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight), the Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India (where they both decide that they would be cremated and their ashes stored in simple coffee cans in the mountains), the Great Wall of China on a motorbike (which I find puzzling : were motorbike allowed there then?), the mountains of Tibet and Hong Kong (where Freeman’s character suddenly decides he wants to go home to his wife and family).
Nicholson’s character is at a board meeting when he gets an urgent phone call informing him that his friend collapsed at home and is in hospital. In his eulogy, he tells the congregation that “we saw the world together, which is amazing because only three months ago we were complete strangers. The last months of his life were the best months of mine. He saved my life. I knew it even before he did. I’m deeply proud that this man found it worth his while to know me. In the end we brought some joy to each other’s lives.”
My conclusion? The best time of all is right now.