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  • Writer's pictureKate Monroe

Don Juan Demarco

Director: Jeremey Leven

Starring: Marlon Brando, et al.

Length: 132 minutes 

Rated: PG-13 

Studio: New Line Studios

“What is sacred?”

   “Of what is the spirit made?”

      “What is worth living for?”

          “What is worth dying for?”

            “What do you know of great love?”

               “What happened to all the celestial

                 fires that used to light our way?”

These lines will give you a glimpse of the context of this powerful movie, Don Juan de Marco, which has been a favorite of mine since it came out. I love it because it is a light, funny, yet profound philosophic fable that allows us to suspend reality and learn about love. It seems to say that reality is a blinder to love and to life, and so, in changing our reality, we can find love and life again. And while some might say, “get real,” this movie gives us the gift of feeling transported by the power of love, the power of living in our own intention,

and the power of creating a life where the “celestial fires” we feel for the joy of living actually do light our way.

The fable is an inviting one – it is gentle and timeless in its message about living in love. Twenty-one years old, Don Juan de Marco (Johnny Depp) is taken into a mental hospital on a “ten-day ticket” for threatening suicide after being spurned by his love interest. The nearly-retired psychiatrist assigned to him, (Marlon Brando), assumes a Spanish identity, Don Octavio de Flores, to talk Don Juan down from his suicidal perch and to explore Don Juan’s “story” – and in so doing, psychiatrist becomes student (against all the advice of the

“expert” colleague psychiatrists). Don Octavio recognizes that Don Juan has plenty to teach him about love. Their relationship is reciprocally powerful:  there is tremendous discovery for both of them, and deep respect between them.

Brando’s character transforms. He begins to notice his wife differently, to be more playful and loving, and to become more engaged in life, after years of burnout. His out-loud observation to her, “we’ve surrendered to the momentum of mediocrity” is part of his own struggle to find what will keep his own light burning. Don Juan observes to him, “it is only in my world that you can breathe.” The two stories of Don Juan and Don Octavio, where they each help the other create a life that is more whole (and who can tell us whether reality is

the fantasy or vice versa?), intertwine to reveal a fundamental coaching question: what is the story you are living in, and how is it serving you?

This film/fable is an invitation to rekindle love in your life and to live wholeheartedly and substantially. For, it is love that is sacred, the spirit is made of love, and love is worth living and dying for.

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