A legend is told of a talented screenwriter who wrote what was purported to be the greatest movie script of all time. Because he wanted to ensure his movie was faithful to his vision, he produced and directed the movie himself. The movie was lengthy and quite controversial, and it received mixed reviews. Over time, the movie became largely successful and it appeared as if it would make every other critically acclaimed epic pale in comparison. Not only did it have all the elements that make movies great—a captivating plot, compelling dialogue, phenomenal acting, surprise plot twists, and breathtaking cinematography—but it was rumored that this movie would reveal the secrets of the ages which all people seek to understand.
Interestingly, there was one particularly unique method that the screenwriter/director employed when releasing his movie. He encrypted the movie with unbreakable encryption, and programmed it to be released in five-minute increments—one increment every generation, and once that segment was played, it would never be shown again. Any person who cared to, could watch the five-minute segment that was aired in their lifetime, although they were not permitted to electronically record it.
Generations passed, and most people scoffed and refused to watch the movie. Some watched out of bored curiosity, but gave it no serious credence. Some people left the theater and wrote down as much of the brief segment as they could remember, endeavoring to the best of their ability, to preserve the essence of the movie for future generations.
A few believed wholeheartedly that the movie held the answer to every question they ever had. They gathered the notes others had written and read their descriptions of the movie segments that had been played generations before. They attempted to piece together all the recorded descriptions into one coherent picture. They formed fan clubs dedicated to reading and studying the written records of the movie segments that had been collected over the generations.
Yet some people noticed some anomalies in the records. Some of the records seemed to disagree with each other. Some portrayed the protagonist as a hero, while others portrayed him as nefarious. Many noticed that frequently, the plot seemed to be heading in one direction, and then a surprise twist occurred that either invalidated everything that had occurred in the preceding storyline or shed a whole new light on it, depending on your point of view; although many purists invented fanciful explanations to explain away the discrepancies.
Once, a long time ago, the director himself appeared at a showing of one of the movie segments. He stayed after the segment was shown and spoke to the theater goers. They asked him to explain the movie and tell them when it would end. He explained the plot to them but he told them that the past and future weren’t nearly as important as the present. What was truly important, he said, was that they love each other and work together to share the movie’s message of hope with others. Many of the fan club members who were listening didn’t believe that the man was really the director. They were incensed when he told them that the plot of the movie was completely antithetical to the way they understood it. They started a riot in which the director was killed.
After the death of the director, many of the fans endeavored to carry out the director’s wishes. But as the years went by, many of the fan clubs became somewhat cultish in their behavior, explaining the meaning of the movie as they understood it, then denigrating anyone who understood the movie in a different way. Then a curious thing happened. Many of the most fervent readers of the collected notes on the movie believed that, for all intents and purposes, the movie had all but ended. Foreshadowing throughout the movie pointed to a dramatic conclusion, and they felt they knew enough about the end that they could speak authoritatively about it. They even went so far as to refuse to watch the movie segment that was shown during their lifetime, feeling that all answers had already been revealed and that the movie would end exactly as they predicted. They spent all their time reading and re-reading the notes people had written on the movie over the years and trying to convince others that their interpretation of the movie was correct.
Many people over the years allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by scammers who exploited the premise that the movie would answer every important life question. These con artists became rich by selling books and leading fan clubs that sold a formulaic approach to life and promised physical health and prosperity that somehow, seldom materialized for anyone but the swindler.
Over time, the fan clubs became increasingly isolationist, and their spiteful behavior toward each other brought interest in the movie to an all-time low. The fan club members often quoted the movie, but never seemed to hold any of the answers that were rumored to be found in the movie.
The movie continues to play, generation after generation. Most people ignore it. There is more information available about the movie than ever, yet people continue to miss the point. The fan clubs, rather than being thriving groups that share wisdom and hope, have devolved into petty, squabbling institutions that are consumed with their own hierarchies, traditions, and rituals.
A fairly recent segment of the movie indicates that the director is still alive and is looking to turn his movie into a glorious reality. Apparently, he’s looking for folks who want to join him.